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Nicaragua: fans of Dan

Thursday, May 31, 2012

WHAT Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega continues to produce healthy poll numbers, in terms of presidential popularity.

WHY The Ortega administration has satisfied not only its base of working people, but also the business community. Since last month, people in Managua, who depend on public transport, for the first time have been able to ride on new buses, for which they pay only 20 córdobas (around $0.10).

On the shores of Lake Managua, where the municipal dump used to pollute both air and water, the government is building affordable housing.

The price of fuel and basic food has likewise remained low.

Brownouts, which used to plague the country, are a thing of the past, as Nicaragua invests in new power-generation projects, including both hydro and geothermal.

Meanwhile, investment has increased, mainly in light manufacturing, as the administration has made it increasingly easy business to register and operate.

Tourism is also flourishing, in a country which always had had great natural beauty, but which now is also one of the safest in the region.

WHAT NEXT Ortega has been able to offer subsidized goods and services, mainly because Nicaragua gets around $500 million a year in direct cash transfers from Venezuela, along with petroleum products, at prices well below international rates. If Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez is not re elected next October, these benefits are likely to disappear. If poor Nicaraguans have to pay market prices for food, fuel, transportation and housing, their enthusiasm for the regime could wane quickly and considerably.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]