Otaviano Canuto, Executive Director, IMF, co-authored by Manuel Coronel
Nicaragua is far more than just the newest and swankiest destination for world travelers. It is -and mark our words – on its way to becoming the latest success story in the western hemisphere. Let us just tell you why.
Nicaragua already is a post-conflict-state success story where peace has become deep-seated and long lasting. The last shots of the “contra” war (1982-1990) against the Sandinista government were heard 25 years ago when close to half of today’s Nicaraguans hadn’t even been born. The other half, the war generation, has – quite pragmatically – reconciled, taking their differences to the political landscape. Today’s Nicaraguans abhor violence and conflict and stand hopeful and happy about their future prospects. Many, exercising their freedoms, have even flipped sides making alliances with their former foes, or have simply detached themselves from politics to savor the longest time-span of peace they have ever lived in.
Nicaragua is the safest country in the CAPDR (Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic) region. Notwithstanding the fact that “northern triangle” neighbors Honduras – which has about 90 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants – Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala, rank among the top five countries with the highest homicide rates in the world, according to UNODC statistics, Nicaragua – with 10 per 100,000 inhabitants – sticks out as an oasis of peace and security in the region. With the lowest budget per cop and lowest per capita income in the region, Nicaragua disproves causation of the – once believed infallible – correlation between low income and high crime. Experts associate these low murder rates to the legacy of the Sandinista Revolution having totally renewed an old and corrupt dictator’s army by an army and police of young idealists in the 1980s, as well as to an inclusive community-based model farther deepened within the last 8 years. In 2011, according to the last available statistic from the UNDP report on crime, Nicaragua ranked third (only after Paraguay and Panama) in having the lowest robbery rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Latin America. While places like Argentina had 973, Mexico 688, Chile 468, and Costa Rica 400, Nicaragua had only 71 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the same report, about 65 percent of Nicaraguans have a lot or some confidence in the country’s criminal justice system (again, only second to Panama in Latin America).
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