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Army chief criticizes economic policy
Nicaragua Network Hotline, 8 September 1997
In his speech to army officials, government representatives and a number of Central American presidents in Nicaragua for the Central American Presidential Summit, head of the Army General Joaquin Cuadra Lacayo delivered an explicitly political message when he warned that a social explosion could well take place in the country as a result of the ongoing application of severe structural adjustment measures.
Cuadra's speech on September 2, the 18th anniversary of the founding of the Sandinista Popular Army (now the Nicaraguan army), urged people not to fall into the trap of thinking that "everything is coming together, [to] suddenly see the horrifying dawn of a paper democracy, without real progress." "What good is democracy," he questioned, "if our children cannot go to school?"
Speaking directly to the economic measures, Cuadra said that "the effects of the structural adjustment plans weigh heavily on the population. The measures to control key macroeconomic variables have been successful, but they have also taken a great social toll." He referred to the "acute problems" of unemployment, poverty, deteriorating social services, and increasing levels of insecurity among the population. If these tendencies are not turned around, Cuadra warned, social violence will replace the country's long history of political violence.
Cuadra's speech came just weeks after the Aleman government announced that it would sign a second, even more stringent, structural adjustment plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), reportedly by the end of the year. Calling for even deeper cuts in social spending, the new structural adjustment plan leaves little room for hope that the government's economic policy will be modified.