From Tue May 4 13:45:08 2004
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 11:56:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: Kathy <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 179202
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

‘Liberalism Equals Illiteracy’

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 3 May 2004

Members of the 25th Anniversary of the Literacy Campaign Movement (ALCM) are accusing the post-Sandinista Liberal governments of returning the general population to the levels of illiteracy comparable to the decades of the Somoza dictatorship. Speaking for the ALCM, Nery Orochena said, It is a deliberate policy of Liberal governments to keep people illiterate. It's yet another way to enable their members to get rich unjustly, since the people don't know enough to challenge them.

As a result, the Nicaraguan people are almost back in the dark days of the Somoza dynasty, he continued. None of the last Liberal governments has been seriously interested in education. At the start of every school year, roughly one million children of school age find they cannot attend classes; in consequence, they are excluded from the education which is their right. Add to these the high numbers of students who, having started the academic year, find they cannot continue, almost always from economic necessity, and are forced to drop out of school altogether. When the last Somoza was deposed, Nicaragua had an illiteracy rate of about 53%. That figure already stands at 40% again, and, the way things are going, we will soon have 60% or more of the population unable to read and write.

He stressed again that the coming 25th anniversary celebration, to be held in August of 2005, would be much more than a mere commemoration of an epic event in the life of the country. Starting from now, we intend to persuade all municipal governments to enter into a permanent literacy crusade and to call on the ministry of education to get involved too. Given these appalling figures, it is their absolute duty to do so.

The ALCM will begin the year leading up to the actual quarter century anniversary with a celebration held this 23 August. But it will not be a celebration of ‘discourses and remembered nostalgias.’ Orochena invited all those who had participated in the original crusade to accompany us in what was once the 19th July Plaza, the historic center of the crusade. Among plans for the coming year, the ALCM intends to reclaim and re-open the Literacy Museum, to encourage the municipality of Managua at least to declare August 23 a holiday, to establish a National Literacy Day, to research the actual levels of illiteracy in the various departments of the country, and, together with the ministry, the municipalities and the National Assembly, to develop a new literacy crusade.