Nicaragua seeks support in the Nordic countries

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Norman Caldera Cardenal had talks with Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Helsinki on Tuesday. Caldera came to Finland on a working visit to the Nordic countries seeking both economic and political support.

Nicaragua is facing severe economic challenges due to dropping coffee prices. “During the past few years coffee prices for consumers have gone up, while producer prices have gone down”, said Caldera. Despite government’s marketing measures the economic situation has worsened and turned catastrophical in northern parts of the country, where children have died in famine. The government has only recently become aware of the emergency situation as many families in distress had not moved to more visible areas where they could be assisted. Foreign minister stressed that help is now on its way.

Foreign Minister Caldera mentioned the fight against corruption in Nicaragua, which is said to have reached a critical stage. There is also a constitutional struggle going on, as the President of the Assembly is a former president of the country and now being accused for corruption. Nicaragua is also applying to a poverty reduction program HIPC (highly indebted poor countries) within the IMF, and Caldera hopes they can reach agreement with the fund in November. It could imply further cuts in government expenditure, but Nicaragua is committed to meeting the preconditions set by the IMF.

On globalisation Caldera commented that it should work both ways, referring to the US and EU farm subsidies making it difficult for Nicaraguan producers to compete on the market. Nicaragua will discuss trade terms with the United States within the Central American-US free trade negotiations and later with the EU as well. Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja pointed out that globalisation is generally a positive phenomenon, but the main problem is the unequal distribution of income and resources – both within and between countries. Tuomioja said also that the current government in Nicaragua is committed to fighting against corruption.