From Thu Nov 7 07:30:07 2002
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 17:04:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Nicaragua Network <>
Subject: Nicaragua Nework Hotline
Article: 146847
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Bolaqos Accused of Campaign Finance Law Violations

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 4 November 2002

President Enrique Bolaqos, Vice-President Josi Rizo, and more than thirty current and former public officials were accused last week by prosecutor Julio Centeno of violating the country's campaign finance law during the 2001 electoral process. According to the Attorney General's office, the accused hid information regarding the funds used to finance the political campaign of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) in the elections for president, vice-president and National Assembly in 2001. The accusation asserts that the funds were illegally taken from government coffers. This is the first case of this nature to be brought in the history of Nicaragua and it is causing a media frenzy.

According to the accusation, during the electoral campaign, Bolaqos and Rizo (as presidential and vice-presidential candidates) participated in meetings of the National Executive Committee of the PLC and, thus, were well aware that the funds for the campaign were coming from the Nicaraguan Democratic Foundation, an institution that received government funds that were laundered by President Aleman. At the same time, Bolaqos had separate accounts in national and foreign banks, and used that money to cover the expenses of his electoral campaign, without notifying the Supreme Electoral Council.

The Liberal Party Alliance (composed of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, the National Resistance Party, and a wing of the Conservative Party and known by the initials PLC-CCN-PRN) only reported to the Supreme Electoral Council a campaign war chest of US$4.75 million, hiding US$2.5 million.

Special Electoral Prosecutor Blanca Salgado stated last week that the accusations could result in the removal of officials from their posts if they were elected in the past elections, the re-payment of the amount that was misdirected and up to two years in prison. According to Prosecutor Lourdes Bolaqos, the punishment is much more serious, up to 25 years, if it is related to money laundering and fraud against the government.

In response to these accusations, President Enrique Bolaqos publicly said he would give up his presidential immunity from prosecution in order to face the accusation. At the same time he challenged the former president Arnoldo Aleman and other liberal deputies in the National Assembly, who are accused of corruption, to do the same thing.

The President said, Enrique Bolaqos doesn't have anything to hide or fear. My life has always been an open book. I don't hide behind anything or anybody. Nor do I cowardly hide beneath the skirts of immunity or amnesty. Then he challenged his predecessor: Arnoldo Aleman, once and for all do as a man what you should have done in the beginning: give up immunity, face justice, without subterfuges, without deceits, and stop claiming that these are political accusations.

President Bolaqos also exhorted the Liberal deputies holding seats in the National Assembly and the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) to follow his example and to give up their immunity so that together they could face the attacks. He said that the electoral process of the PLC is being questioned, as well as the legitimacy of the country political institutions. At the same time he asked them to continue with the process of removing Aleman's immunity.

Bolaqos said that this bringing of charges by the Attorney General's office favors the truly corrupt. He said that the intention was to protect Aleman and his friends from facing charges on the misappropriation of funds.

It is designed to distract the attention of the National Assembly and keep it from carrying forward the process against Arnoldo Aleman, he said. He went on, It is dangerous because it mocks the sovereign will of more than 93 percent of the Nicaraguans who voted in the general elections and it puts at risk the municipal elections as well.