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4/4/2007

Nicaragua Sandinistas to fight former foes’ hunger

Filed under: global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 5:20 am

Nicaragua’s Sandinista government will hand out seeds and farm animals to fight hunger the Caribbean coast, including among Miskito Indians who fought the leftists’ first government in the 1980s.

Agriculture Minister Ariel Bucardo said the project would help 75,000 malnourished families, starting in the extremely poor Rio Coco region, close to the border with Honduras.

“It is incredible the level of poverty in this region,” Bucardo told reporters. He said an average of 17 people died of hunger-related diseases in the region each month.

Rio Coco, an often waterlogged zone recently blighted by crop-destroying plagues of rats, is largely populated by the Miskito and Mayagna ethnic groups.

The Miskitos, traditionally turtle fishermen, aligned with U.S.-financed “Contra” rebels to fight the revolutionary government of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in the 1980s.

Thousands of Miskitos were forcibly relocated by the first Sandinista government.

Under the new program, which Bucardo said would last five years and cost about $150 million, families will be given farm animals, seeds and tools.

Ortega was voted out of office in 1990 but made a comeback after winning elections last year. He has promised reconciliation with wartime enemies and says he will reduce poverty.

Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Americas, after Haiti.

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