President Daniel Ortega took his “El Pueblo Presidente” (The People are President) show on the road to Granada last week to unveil the new Granada-Nandaime highway and to announce new advances in his government’s nation-wide “offensive” against unpaved roads.
Through a series of loans, donations and other international cooperation measures, the Ortega administration is investing heavily in public works programs to pave and repair roads throughout the country.
The 9-kilometer Granada-Nandaime highway, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, is an important road linking Granada to the artisan town of Catarina, as well as to the turnoff to the southern Pacific beach destinations. The road was rebuilt in a record time of two months by a Nicaraguan company that employed 80 workers.
“This was built by a Nicaraguan company, which we say with pride because it has been a long time since Nicaraguan businesses have participated in constructing roads here,” said Fernando Martínez, minister of infrastructure and transport.
The government also announced new international financing from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration and the government of Mexico to begin work on the northern sector highways of Matagalpa-Jinotega, and the internal Matagalpa road from San Ramón to Muy Muy – two roadways that will play a major role in moving Nicaragua’s coffee harvest to market for export.
In addition, the government also announced a new project to grate 103 kilometers of internal roadway along the southern border with Costa Rica.
“We are concentrating on the execution of these roads, which are urgent for communities,” Ortega said
In total, the president said, the Sandinista government will pave a total of 1,502 kilometers of roadway in 100 municipalities throughout the country. At the center of Ortega’s public-works goals is a $26 million Venezuela-funded plan called “Streets for the People,” a program being conducted under the auspices of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
Nelson Artola, head of Nicaragua’s poverty relief social fund (FISE), said that “Streets for the People” will focus on paving dirt roads in the poorest of communities, rather than repairing dilapidated roadways in downtown urban areas that “already have streets.”
The program, Artola said, is for “the humble neighborhoods, the poor, who are going to have progress under this plan.”
He added, “Never before in the history of Nicaragua has there been a plan of this magnitude.
Half a million Nicaraguans who live in humble homes, in neighborhoods that barely exist or that didn’t exist for previous governments – these Nicaraguans are going to benefit with first-class streets, paved and bricked, to give dignity and progress to these neighborhoods.”
Artola said the public works program will employ 40,000 people in more than 100 municipalities in Nicaragua.
“ALBA produces miracles!”Artola gushed, adding that the program is already underway “thanks to God and the precision of Daniel.”