I don’t know how we, as Nicaraguans, can qualify what is happening in our country. A year ago, Nicaragua was different. Thousands of citizens from León and Chinandega placed their hope in the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which is now history.
The European Union provided significant money to our country in budgetary aid. That, too, is history.
A year ago we had an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Today we are waiting to see if we come out okay and if Nicaragua has complied with everything that the IMF requires.
A year ago, Nicaraguans thought that the popular vote would be respected in the municipal elections of last November.
And we all know what happened. Or, more accurately, a few people truly know what happened, even though we all suspect what happened, because they never published the final results of the election. They didn’t want to show their feathers.
A year ago, Nicaraguan exports were growing and generating jobs (modest jobs but dignified work) in free-trade zones and in the tourism sector. Today, tourists are running away from the country after hearing the news abroad of pretentious discourses. Meanwhile, free-trade zones are closing their factories and leaving thousands of our citizens without the opportunity to earn a living with dignity.
A year ago, we were planning for a visit –which in the end never worked out – by the Secretary of Commerce of our main trade partner, the United States. But “someone” had the idea that it was more important for Nicaragua to establish diplomatic relations with Abjasia and South Ossetia than to receive Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and the 50 U.S. businessmen who accompanied him. Honestly, to this date, I don’t know of anyone from Abjasia or South Ossetia who have come to invest here, and I don’t think any Nicaraguan businesses – at least no member of AMCHAM – have exported a single plantain or liter of milk to Sujumi or Tsjinvali, which are the respective “capitals” of these “sister countries of ours,” as our Foreign Minister calls them.
A year ago, the President of the United States was the Republican George W. Bush, and now it’s the Democrat Barack Obama.
A year ago, with a Republican president, Nicaragua at least had an ambassador in Washington, D.C.
Today, with a Democratic president, Nicaragua doesn’t even have an ambassador to the most important country in the world. And we haven’t had an ambassador to Washington for the past eight months, and it appears that our government hasn’t been able (or hasn’t wanted to) find someone to represent it before the government of President Obama, who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which we celebrate. A year ago, in 2008, the projections for economic growth were 3 percent; this year, with luck, our recession will only be -2 or -3 percent.
A year ago, we had clear rules in terms of taxes, and today the government wants to stick its hand [deeper] in the pockets of those who pay taxes with its Tax Reform Law, which we in AMCHAM have never agreed on. Instead of expanding the tax base, they want those who pay to support those who live off of the blackmarket, those who continue to pillage public coffers to satisfy the eccentricities of first-world sultans, traveling in rented airplanes and seeking world peace while they aren’t able to promote, even by the smallest measure, national peace.
A year ago, some of us held out hope that the maximum tribunal of Nicaragua would represent justice. And today, we don’t even have that hope as they act against the law and in violation of our most sacred document: the Constitution of Nicaragua. And all just to satisfy the messianic dreams of he who thinks he was born predestined to guide the destiny of Nicaragua.
But to be honest, there some things that are the same as they were last year, such as the political divisions among the opposition. And there’s something else that hasn’t changed: the need for dialogue.
Róger Arteaga is the president of the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM).