From Wed Jan 16 08:00:20 2002
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 17:17:35 -0600 (CST)
From: NicaNet <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 133268
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Bolaqos inaugurated President of Nicaragua

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 14 January 2002

Enrique Bolaqos was inaugurated Nicaragua's thirty-eighth president on January 10th while thousands looked on, including some seventy-five foreign dignitaries. Among the foreigners were diplomats from the United States, which had threatened Nicaraguan voters with an aid cut-off and military intervention throughout the campaign if they voted not for Bolaqos but for the Sandinista candidate, Daniel Ortega. Two former U.S. ambassadors to Nicaragua attended: John Maisto and Lino Gutierrez, the former now an advisor to the National Security Council and the latter acting (until January 11) assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. They sat among the red banners and caps sported by celebrating loyalists of the victorious Liberal Constitutionalist Party.

In his inaugural address, Bolaqos said that Nicaragua should follow the example of the United States, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. How did these countries transform themselves? he asked. How did they pass from being poor, burdened with war, instability and enormous inequalities to what they are today? They rolled up their sleeves and made up their minds to take the path of their desires, step by step, day by day, blow by blow; and so they reached their goal.

Bolaqos then called on all Nicaraguans to join him in the moral renewal of the country, and expressed his determination to create the necessary economic, social and political conditions to support small-, medium- and large-scale investment as the principal means to that end. We must not fool ourselves, he said. To build this dream we have to conquer those major vices which historically have plagued our society: corruption, the perverse use of power, the culture of the strongman. All these are equally reprehensible, all equally to be condemned. We must break with that history and those traditions. I promise you I will break with that past.

The new president promised to be truly the president of all Nicaraguans, never abandoning my liberal principles and my Christian faith, but setting aside party colors to take up the blue and white flag which covers us all. Bolaqos also, strangely, called outgoing president Arnoldo Aleman his dear Arnoldo. This surprised observers because, besides being considered by many to be Nicaragua's most corrupt president ever (a contest with serious contenders especially among the Somozas), Aleman had just bested Bolaqos in a political battle over who would hold the presidency of the National Assembly.

Sandinista deputies boycotted the inauguration festivities in protest of their virtual exclusion from the leadership of the National Assembly. The FSLN is appealing to the Supreme Court saying that, by the law of proportionality, they should have two or possibly three of the seven National Assembly officers. The Liberals, who have a 53 to 38 advantage in the Assembly, have awarded them only one.

On January 9th, the day before the presidential inauguration, the new National Assembly session was initiated. Out-going president Aleman had been maneuvering for weeks to become president of the Assembly using a stand-in for the first few days because, given the calendar, he would still be President when Assembly leadership was selected. There was opposition to his taking on the new post among Sandinistas and even among Liberal deputies. The outgoing president's former Minister of Defense Jaime Cuadra ran against him, professing his confidence that he would easily obtain the required majority of votes, given that the Sandinista bench had committed its 38 votes to him and that he was sure of another ten Liberals besides. But in-coming president Bolaqos made what turned out to be a mistake when he expressed his preference for Cuadra, saying that he would be delighted if my old friend Jaime Cuadra would be the one to invest me with the presidential sash [the job of the National Assembly president]. In the final vote, Cuadra pulled in just two Liberal votes and the lone Conservative plus the Sandinista deputies losing to Aleman's candidate 49 to 42. This victory for the ex-president gives him a continuing power base from which to manipulate the nation's politics, continue to increase his own personal wealth and, finally, run for the presidency again in 2006.