From Thu Oct 16 11:25:04 2003
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 10:59:46 -0500 (CDT)
From: Nicaragua Network <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 165780
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

International Rights Jurist Attacks Bolaqos on CAFTA

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 29 September 2003

In a scathing attack on the Bolaqos administration in general and on Enrique Bolaqos in particular, a well-known expert on international law, Roberto Morales, challenged the government on its supposed record of transparency, particularly in relationship to the US/Central American Free Trade Agreement currently under negotiation. The CAFTA negotiators say they will take transparency into account. Where would we be if they did? Under the last (Aleman) government, Transparency International placed Nicaragua second worst in the world in terms of corruption. Who was director of the government Commission for Institutional Transparency during the Aleman administration? Who constantly denied seeing any sign of corruption? Even as Aleman and other government colleagues ransacked the public purse and made away with millions in international assistance? And, today, that same Enrique Bolaqos presides over a government with many of those same ministers still in his cabinet, government functionaries who have received the huge salaries of corruption, together with the overwhelming cornucopia of benefits that attended them, benefits that no similarly-placed person in any developed country can boast. Then as if it were of no significance, he has no less than seventy family members in important public positions. And, to top it off, he himself is in receipt of what is in effect a double salary, that of president plus his life pension as former vice-president.

Morales noted that, according to the United Nations, 45.8% of Nicaragua's 5.4 million people today live in poverty, with a further 15.1% in extreme poverty. Other studies confirm that impoverishment affects as much as 70% of the population. In the face of these depressing statistics, he underlined that recent surveys have shown that the average Nicaraguan has little or no knowledge of CAFTA and/or similar treaties. However, he continued, thanks to the mendacious propaganda of the Bolaqos administration, the same people that showed themselves almost entirely ignorant of the real content of the proposed treaty, said they were expecting it to raise them up out of their poverty. Two thirds of those interviewed said they had no idea of what a free trade agreement was, but, based on the government's depiction of a benevolent US, they were sure there would be more employment, more investment, more jobs, the strengthening of democracy. Without hard facts and figures, these are mere delusions and lies. Look at the experience of Mexico; there is no way Nicaragua is ready for CAFTA. You have to learn to walk before you can run. The US Congress has said it will take transparency into account when the final CAFTA document is presented. Maybe the present government's lack of credibility in this area is the last hope that it will not be approved.