/** reg.nicaragua: 44.0 **/
Chief of Nicaraguan army warns of social explosion
From Strategic Pastoral Action, 14 September 1997
The Chief of Army of Nicaragua, General Joaquin Cuadra Lacayo, in a speech on the 10th anniversary of the Army's founding, warned of the danger of a social explosion as a consequence of the imposition of "structural adjustment" here by international monetary organizations. Cuadra says these measures have generated unemployment and extreme poverty in all the countries called "Third World" where they've been imposed. His strongly critical remarks were understood to be a dart well aimed at the governments of Don~a Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and the current president, Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo, who was present for the event. But immediately after the ceremonies, General Cuadra declared that his speech was not aimed at anyone, but was about realities. "Economic adjustment has very high social costs, and what I wanted was to call attention, to turn on a red light, so that we will stop to look at this social cost, because peace with great poverty and marginalized sectors will carry us into social conflicts of unforeseen dimensions."
"The worst thing we could do is to rest on our laurels and think that we have consolidated democracy when we have only gone to the ballot boxes and voted every five years, for what use is this if the people continue in hunger? The situation could explode at any moment and generate a new conflict, no longer political in nature, as in the past decade, but of social character," Cuadra warned.
"The severe problems still persist here, unemployment, poverty and extreme poverty. It still hasn't been possible to contain the deterioration of basic public services, nor to put the brakes on the growing feeling of citizen insecurity. . . we run the risk of entering into the dangerous and shifting sands of one of the cruelest ironies in the world at the end of the century: democracy without prosperity." At this, President Aleman lifted his right hand to his chin and fixed his gaze at the podium where Cuadra was speaking. After a short pause, General Cuadra began again, "In this new situation, social violence is the substitute for political violence, but the results are the same or worse."
The presidents of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala were also present for the ceremonies, along with their ministers of defense.
[translated/digested from El Nuevo Diario, 3 Sept 1997] El Nuevo Diario is a center left "reformed Sandinista" newspaper, which has eschewed the armed struggle as an option for social change.]