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FSLN and government reach accord on property
Nicaragua Network Hotline, 8 September 1997
Last Thursday, the FSLN and the Nicaraguan government announced that they had finally reached an accord on the controversial issue of property that has long blocked any real movement forward in both political and economic terms. Work on the agreement began on January 13, only three days after Arnoldo Aleman was inaugurated as president. The draft legislation, reached by consensus between legal commissions of the two parties, is being called the "Law Reforming Urban, Rural and Agricultural Property," and will now be presented to the participants in the government-sponsored National Dialogue. According to La Prensa, the government has promised the FSLN that the draft legislation will "suffer no modifications" by the dialogue.
Daniel Ortega has reportedly said that the proposed law "resolves the conflict including the problem of the large properties," while President Aleman has said that he was "happy" with the agreement, and that he was confident that the draft law would easily be approved in the National Assembly.
According to Joaquin Cuadra Chamorro, who worked as an FSLN legal adviser on the property issue, the bill aims to create "mechanisms to correct abuses that have been committed." The bill sets up a two-tiered tribunal system to rule on the properties in dispute on a case-by-case basis. Barricada reports that the draft legislation would respect Law 209, an broad-based agreement reached in November 1995 after negotiations mediated by the Carter Center, which the Aleman government has virtually ignored.
Daniel Ortega confirmed that the accord ratifies both laws passed under the Sandinista administration as well as agreements made under the adminstration of Violeta Chamorro which "favored the poor, those demobilized from the army and the Resistance, and the marginalized urban population." He said the law would give a sense of security and calm to thousands of people in the countryside and the city, while at the same time taking into account those who were unjustly subjected to confiscation and have yet to receive compensation. However, some long-time political observers were wary about the chances the accord will really take effect. An army official, speaking off the record, said it is an "extremely positive" step for the country, but warned that it is too early to celebrate. An informal "on the street" survey revealed both ignorance about the proposed legislation and, in the cases where people had heard something, intense cynicism.
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