Supervising local power is a fundamental task in Nicaragua

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Por: Redacción Intertextual

This May 25, Open Ballot Boxes, as part of the oversight committee to political efforts in Nicaragua, prepared a conversation on Twitter, to reflect “on the socioeconomic impacts of municipal management,” with the participation of three experts.

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“Municipal governments are the ones that are closest to the population and must respond to the needs of the people. “However, this function has been limited both by the co-optation of mayors by the Sandinista Front as well as the difficulties that the opposition mayors have been putting,” says the organization.

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For the municipal elections in November, 153 deputy mayors and more than 6,000 council positions will be elected. Since 2008, when Ortega was in power, opposition mayors have been shrinking to such an extent that only 18 and 135 Sandinistas won in the last elections.

The role of citizens to control this local power

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The reform of nine recently approved articles of the Electoral Law reduces the time of party political activities in the municipalities. Currently, there is a transcendental delay in calling the elections; Before Daniel Ortega returned to power, it was convened a year earlier, but since his return, it has been decreasing, this year is when the Supreme Electoral Council has taken the longest to convene and publish the electoral calendar.

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“Since Daniel returned to power, never has there been so much instability in the municipalities, especially due to the dismissals that have been taking place,” asserts Ligia Gómez, a doctor in economics with experience in applied research on issues of territorial development, a member of Urnas Abierta.

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The economist refers that the territory where one is born is decisive, about all the opportunities that people have to develop. “It is necessary to understand where the country is going not only at the global level, it is important to understand what is happening in the municipalities to have a clearer vision that Nicaragua is not Managua, sometimes we forget that.” she points out.

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The municipal governments play a fundamental role, but inequality is being experienced, especially for those who are not related to the government, therefore, it is not possible to “advance inequalities”, and that is what “deepens, even more, the problem that the country has”, he highlights.

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For her part, Elvira Cuadra, sociologist, and director of the Center for Transdisciplinary Study of Central America argued that municipal governments are responsible for responding to the most urgent needs of the people. “Municipal management in Nicaragua has had a history of citizen participation and advocacy at the local level to bring municipal governments closer to people’s problems and for municipal governments to also respond to people’s needs. That has been a lawsuit for almost 30 years, it has been maintained over time even when the Ortega Murillo regime has tried to control all the mayor’s offices throughout the national territory, ”she describes.

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Municipal transfers in Nicaragua are used for electoral purposes. For example, the period between 2013 and 2017 was characterized by discretionary use and without technical criteria for budget allocations to mayors.

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Gómez states that transfers from the central government have not been focused on municipal spending to combat poverty. “It is not a public policy objective in the country, that means that, instead of helping to reduce poverty and bring to a level where the territories that are furthest behind can be removed to a level more similar to the national average, we know that the poorest municipalities are the ones that also have the greatest difficulties in executing their projects, they have less human resources, less income of their own.”

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62{e079e928c0ffac93fc2d0bcb855951dc424555b296fe89c532c6f4d7d2083413} of the municipalities have a low income of their own, which makes it difficult to be autonomous from the central government and this makes them dependent on municipal transfers, which has also decreased by 6{e079e928c0ffac93fc2d0bcb855951dc424555b296fe89c532c6f4d7d2083413} because Daniel is in power, experts mention.

Elvira Cuadra adds, “the municipalities have historically been very dependent on transfers from the central government, to be able to carry out activities and projects what they can collect through taxation is very little. Because tax payment is centralized in the national tax system and there is very little left for municipalities to collect and there is no culture of tax payment.”

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Within the limitations of development in the municipalities prevails that autonomy was eliminated, in them and Daniel Ortega under the administration of the presidency controls them, adds Cuadra.

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“Municipal governments became devices to transfer the decisions that were made from the presidency. In the last four years we have seen them converted into devices and spaces where they have been organized as barracks to repress the population”, Cuadra rescued.

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And the 18 mayoralties that do not belong to it have been punished with the issue of transfers “in some cases processes have been promoted to behead these mayoralties and subject them to the direct control of the Ortega Murillo regime. For this reason, the possibility of participation or influence of the people in municipal management is annulled”, points out the sociologist.

Development alternatives that could be given in the municipality

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Ligia Ivette Gómez, assures that the Nicaraguans is living in adverse conditions, since the sociopolitical crisis that began in April 2018, with more poverty and is also having a worse time in some regions than others, in the future the alternatives for the development of the country, ” it is to continue fighting to control and document what we can to continue demanding for our rights; our job is to promote not to lose the little institutionality that still exists at the level of the territories”, says Gómez.

Enrique Sáenz economist, political analyst, and director of the digital platform Vamos al Punto. He highlighted in his participation that there should be elections as a citizen’s right, justifying, “there is no democracy without parties, but not with the parties that we have that are not parties.” He concluded by saying that facing the future, in addition to critically revising what was valid in the past, “there are also challenges for the future of building and strengthening citizenship, local organization and strengthening of participation spaces and also the strengthening of popular or party subscription.”

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