16 Years of Sandinista Government

Erving Vega, January 10, 2022 16 Años de Gobierno Sandinista

The truth is that we have gone from being the worst at everything to being the best, or being among the best, at everything. And if we take into account that we started to breathe not because the current was in our favor, then the merit is undeniable.

So recently that memory cannot fail us. Exactly 16 years ago the course of Nicaragua was a nosedive. It would suffice as evidence of such a statement to recall the blackouts of up to 12 hours a day and the national paralysis that this meant, as well as the discomfort and frustration of the entire country. The legacy of 17 years (1990-2006) of 3 neoliberal governments can be summed up in that data, although the breakdown of so much neglect, corruption and apathy would take much more than a 1,200 word article. But as for showing a button, in the end I hope to err on the side of things, because it is better to have more and not less, and above all so as not to leave room for hesitation.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015 is a good filter to assess progress, stagnation or setbacks in the development of a country at a given moment in its history. There are 17 goals. I prefer the first 8, for synthesis and because the progress of these conditions any progress of the 9 that follow.

So the question is, how was Nicaragua in 2006?, at the end of the third and last of the neoliberal governments that followed one another since 1990, in light of the sustainable development goals and their main indicators; and to have a perspective of the jump that the country has experienced during the 16 years that followed, now with a Sandinista government, the question is also how are we today?

I share with you a collection of data that I hope summarizes the answer to both questions.

1. End of povertyAccording to the Living Standard Measurement Surveys, between 2001-2005 general poverty increased from 45.8% to 48.3% and extreme poverty went from 15.1% to 17.2%.General poverty fell from 48.3% in 2005 to 24.9% in 2016 and extreme poverty fell from 17.2% to 6.9% in the same period.
2. Zero hungerFamine in rural areas that led to roadside sit-ins, mainly in the north of the country.Chronic malnutrition of 27%.Food security policy that includes credit, productive bonuses, food packages, school nutrition program, etc. Low chronic malnutrition from 27% to 11.6%.
3. Health and well-beingPrivatization through the dismantling of the public health system. Patients had to bring alcohol, gauze, suture thread and sheets if hospitalization was required.Restitution of free health care that includes laboratory and high-tech tests, medicines and care supplies.
4. Quality educationLag in coverage and quality determined by: privatization disguised as autotomy, collection of tariffs, abandoned schools and insufficient furniture. 27,000 classrooms destroyed. Thousands of children, mainly in rural areas, had to carry their desks or sit on the floor. The illiteracy rate, which had been reduced to 12.96% with the National Literacy Crusade in 1980, increased between 1990 and 2006 to 22.0%.Universal access policy determined by: Restitution of free public education. Prohibition of charging school fees. 35,393 school environments built, repaired and/or expanded. The government resumes the task to reduce illiteracy. Currently the rate is between 4% and 6%
5. Gender equalityPosition 90 globally in gender equality. Position 5 globally in gender equality and number 1 in Latin America.
6. Clean water and sanitationPotable water coverage in the urban area of ​​65% and in the rural area of ​​26.7%. Sanitation coverage in the urban area of ​​36% and in the rural area of ​​33%.Potable water coverage in the urban area of ​​91.5% and in the rural area of ​​55.4%. Sanitation coverage in the urban area of ​​54% and in the rural area of ​​50.9%.
7. Affordable and clean energyCoverage of 54% with blackouts between 12 and 14 hours daily. The generation matrix was 80% with sources derived from petroleum and 20% renewable. Coverage of 99.32%. The blackouts were overcome during the first months of 2007 after the Sandinista government took office. The generation matrix is ​​75% with renewable sources and 25% with oil derivatives.
8. Decent work and economic growth.Net occupancy rate 94.8%. Open unemployment rate 5.2% Permanent conflict workers vs employers. Government-business collusion to breach the Minimum Wage Law.National net occupancy rate 95.1%. Open unemployment rate 4.9% Agreements between unions and employers. Tripartite agreement and compliance with the Minimum Wage Law.

The numbers speak and quite clearly. The truth is that we have gone from being the worst at everything to being the best, or being among the best, at everything. For example, no one disputes that we have:
The safest country in Central America. The homicide rate went from 13.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2006 to 7 in 2020.

The best roads in Central America. In 2006 there were 2,439 kilometers of paved roads, with only 30% in regular condition. Currently the road network exceeds 5 thousand kilometers. According to the World Economic Forum, Nicaragua is among the top 5 countries with the best roads in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is number 1 in Central America.

Leadership in renewable energy. According to Sustainability Magazine, Nicaragua is ranked number 8 worldwide in promoting policy to generate renewable energy.

The best and largest hospital network in Central America. In 2006 there were 1,092 health units, most of them in a deplorable state. Currently the country has 1,596 health units.  

The reduction in maternal deaths is also notable. In 2006 the rate was 93 deaths per 100,000 live births, currently it is 31.4. Infant mortality dropped from 29 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 12.6 per 1,000 live births in 2021. And although I don’t know of a ranking, surely if there were, Nicaragua would be among a small group of countries where the most advanced technologies are available free of charge. of the population, such as radiotherapy with linear accelerators or performing extremely expensive fetal surgeries, but with free access for those who need it.

The leap is quantitative and qualitative and has occurred at the same time that the world hit us with an economic crisis in 2008, a coup attempt in 2018, a pandemic that still deserves attention, two hurricanes in a row in 2020 and foreign sanctions (aggressions that, far from facilitating, they torpedo national efforts). Taking into account that we started to breathe not because the current was in our favor, then the merit is undeniable. And then I will conclude with a biblical cliché, inevitable and opportune for the occasion: He who has eyes to see and he who has ears to hear.

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