Page 6


SCOTT IJND “…[W]hen one does good, evil flees, defeated by the force of God.” million to fund the campaign of UNO, a 12party coalition that includes the Communist Party of Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan Socialist Party, Social Democrats, the National Conservative Party, the Conservative Popular Alliance, and others. Under Nicaraguan law, 50 percent of foreign money sent for opposition parties must be applied to the cost of conducting the election itself. Yet that left $3.8 million for UNO to spend on an election in a country of 3.6 million, where there is not sufficient media to conduct the capital-intensive elections that are common in the United States. UNO’s U.S.-financed triumph brought to power an unstable alliance with no organized constituency. By the end of the campaign, Chamorro and her vice president-elect, Virgilio Godoy, were openly estranged, the smaller parties were chafing at being ignored, and no policies for governing after the election had been put forward. The coalition, instead, seems to be relying heavily on promises of money from the United States. ORE THAN 4,000 foreigners 1,200 journalists and 3,000 observers and invited guests witnessed the final act of a drama that began one year earlier when President Ortega agreed to move elections up from their scheduled November 1990 date. These were the second elections held in Nicaragua in 10 years. The first, in November of 1984, received international recognition for their fairness. According to a report from the United Nations Technical Assistance Mission, established to assist with the 1990 elections: “The most credible technical and political reports on the 1984 elections show that voting acts were basically honest; that the immense majority of citizens registo vote. In other words, that election took place within normal ethical-technical standards.” The Sandinistas by then had held power for six years and had compiled a solid record of delivering benefits to the poor, conducting a nationwide literacy campaign, redistributing land, and increasing access to health care and education at all levels. They won 67 percent of the vote. So, this time, Nicaraguans went to the polls like old hands, in urban areas, lining up long before the sun rose. The elderly, and women carrying young babies, were given courtesy priority. At one site in Managua, a frail old man on crutches, both feet deformed, struggled between his grown children to enter the voting booth a three-sided cardboard partition placed atop a rickety table. At another, several male poll watchers juggled babies while mothers voted. Scores of votes were cast and counted by kerosene lantern because many poll i ngplaces had no electricity. Yet at each site we visited, Managua street scene there was a great effort to follow every procedure correctly. The voter received three easy-to-read ballots designed for a low-literacy nation, each to be marked with an “X,” folded in half to display a colored band, and dropped into a color-coded cardboard box designated for executive office, legislative assembly, or municipal representative ballots. International groups, including the United Nations Observers for the Verification of the Organization of American States Observers conditions and checks to assure the integrity of the process from campaign through ballot. On election Sunday, the observers spread across the nation in vehicles equipped with communication units, to observe the process. It was, said Lucias Walker, an official observer and president of the New York based Interreligious Foundation, “a technical model for the 21st century.” Walker complimented the government “for fulfilling its commitment to its second free and fair national election within 10 years.” “It is vitally important to note that a free and fair election according to accepted international law was held in Nicaragua in 1984,” he said. Moreover, he continued, “the February 25, 1990 election, which was a historical model not only for Central America but for North and South America as well, was conducted by a government that the U.S. claims is totalitarian … that the election was also .conducted under unfair conditions imposed on it by the U.S., conditions which included covert and overt funding to the UNO.” Walker also said that “the fact that so much fear can exist in the midst of such an open process in a country struggling for sovereignty leads us to analyze the world context THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9