Sandinistas Call for Slash in Politicians’ Wages

July 2, 2004

GRANADA, Nicaragua – In an effortto curb the widening salary gulch betweenwell-to-do politicians and the mostly poorelectorate that votes them into power, theopposition Sandinista National LiberationFront (FSLN) last week introduced a bill thatwould reduce politicians’ wages by 50%.The proposed measure would halve thesalaries of the President, Vice-President andCabinet members, as well as all 90 lawmakers,253 mayors and their vice-mayors.The Sandinista leadership calculatesthe salary reductions would translate intoan annual savings of $25.3 million in governmentspending, which could be used forpublic education and the purchase ofmuch-needed medicines for state clinics.SANDINISTA secretary general DanielOrtega announced the initiative lastSaturday, during a party rally to commemoratethe 25th anniversary of the Sandinista’s“Repliegue Táctico” – the rebels’ fakeddefeat retreat in June 1979, before theylaunched the final offensive on Managua totopple the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship onJuly 19, 1979.The proposed law also appears to be aneffort to bring the Sandinista movementback to its socialist roots as the party preparesfor the upcoming municipal electionsin November.“Nicaragua demands a new revolution; amoral revolution, an ethical revolution and acivic revolution. A revolution of consciousnessto get rid of the corruption that has been[in government] since 1990 (when theSandinistas were voted out of power),” Ortegatold the large gathering of party supporters,many waving the red-and-black FSLN flag.Ortega went on to explain that all theSandinista candidates for mayor for themunicipal elections in November haveagreed to the 50% reduction in salaries.“FOR us to have the moral authorityto criticize the government, we have tostart by criticizing ourselves,” said Ortega,who has already announced his intentionto run again for President in 2006, followingthree consecutive failed bids. “TheSandinistas can’t fall into the same attitudethat has bled the country.”Ortega did not, however, mention howthe initiative would affect the wages ofcurrent Sandinista lawmakers and mayors,nor if it would affect his annual pensioncheck of $108,000 for being a formerPresident (1984-1990).ACCORDING to the 2004 budget,President Enrique Bolaños this year willreceive $108,669 for being President, plusan additional pension check of $87,301 forbeing the former Vice-President.Bolaños’ total monthly paycheck of$16,330 is nearly 140 times the monthlysalary of a teacher ($120) and 400 timesthe average monthly salary of a farm worker($39).Ministers earn monthly paychecks ofmore than $6,000, while lawmakers takehome $4,560, in addition to receivingallowances for travel expenses and food.The ruling Liberal Constitutional Partyhas not yet commented on whether or notit will support the bill.

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