Nicaragua: Ortega Begins to Make His Campaign Promises

He promises another megaproject: Irrigate the Pacific farmlands with water from the Lake of Nicaragua. Meanwhile, the canal, the refinery and the Tumarin hydroelectric plant languish.

By Danae Vilchez   (Confidencial)

Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega at the Sandinista Assembly held on Friday May 20th. Photo: Presidencia
Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega at the Sandinista Assembly held on Friday May 20th. Photo: Presidencia

HAVANA TIMES — The Sandinista Party Assembly announced on Friday that the Party will hold a Congress on June 4th. On that day the candidacy of Commander Daniel Ortega for a third consecutive term will be formalized, although his selection of a running mate remains unknown.

Friday’s meeting took place at a Managua hotel, amid an unprecedented police deployment. Hundreds of Special Operations agents together with Ortega’s personal security forces, known as blue shirts, guarded the area and blocked the entrance to the independent media.

Commander Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo presided over the meeting attended by the top party figures, including National Assembly president Rene Nunez, chief advisor for economic affairs Bayardo Arce, and Deputy Gustavo Porras. Among government officials who also presided over the party event were retired General Alvaro Baltodano, presidential commissioner for investments, and the Minister of Finance, Ivan Acosta.

The Assembly, which took place amid ostentatious display, was convoked merely for the purpose of having the party leaders sign a resolution stating that the Sandinista National Congress would be held on Saturday, June 4, in accordance with the FSLN Regulations and Statutes.

Ortega spoke exclusively about the environmental crisis affecting the country, blaming it on “savage capitalism”, but said nothing of the extractive development model promoted by his government, replacing forests and natural resources with agribusiness plantations and large areas dedicated to cattle ranching.

Commander Ortega promised to implement a major irrigation project for the Pacific region, piping water from the Lake of Nicaragua (Cocibolca) to the Lake of Managua (Xolotlan). This idea, dubbed as “Cota 100” and was originally proposed by the Somoza administration and later studied in the 1980s, during the first period of Sandinista rule.  However, until now it has never been properly formulated as a project for funding.

“We are working on the project and Comrade Manuel (Coronel Kautz) has been charged with the mission to get it moving. We will seek the resources with Ivan (Acosta), who represents us with international organizations, with the World Bank with the Inter-American Development Bank, and find those wishing to participate in a project like this internally. This project has to be reincarnated in the draft of the Sandinista Front’s plan of government for 2017, since the elections are on November 6, (2016). Thus, we bring this project before the Sandinista Assembly; we are going to convert this project into reality,” said Ortega in a brief speech.

This will be the fourth mega project promised by the Ortega administration, while the other three, the Venezuelan oil refinery, the canal and the Tumarin hydroelectric plant are far from materializing.