Murillo’s keenness for cleanness grows

As the first lady’s neatness campaign sweeps Managua, the opposition is becoming suspicious of dirty motives

The government is talking trash more than usual these days.

Since first lady Rosario Murillo began to articulate her views on garbage a few weeks ago, the topic of trash has quickly become the new campaign du jour for the Sandinista administration.

Murillo’s cleanliness crusade, which is usually referred to by some variation of the pleonastic title “Live Clean, Live Healthy, Live Pretty, Live Well, Live Better”—or just “Live Pretty,” for conversational purposes—is focusing aggressively on clearing trash from street gutters, rainwater ditches, parks and public markets throughout Managua. City workers and members of the Sandinista Youth, dressed in their techni-colored t-shirt uniforms, have been deployed to pick-up garbage and instruct market vendors and whoever else will listen to them not to litter. National Police, meanwhile, have been cracking down on people who dump garbage on street corners and in abandoned lots.

Murillo’s keenness for cleanness seems to grow every day as she dedicates an increasing amount of her daily talk-time to the topic of trash.

“We are advancing on all fronts, with the will and support of you, Nicaraguan families, to achieve our goals of achieving a country that is pretty, free, clean, secure; a country we all want and love and one that we all feel proud of—a Nicaragua that we all dream about and need,” Murillo told Sandinista media yesterday.

The first lady said the government is preparing an instructive leaflet about her campaign. She said the “Pretty Life Brigades” will hand out the leaflets in schools and during house-to-house visits to talk about waste management. Then, presumably, municipal workers will clean the leaflets out of street gutters and rainwater ditches after they are tossed.

“We all need to set the goal of achieving clean cities, friendly environments and communities that are models of self-esteem, hygiene, cleanliness—communities that contribute to the a free and pretty country that we all want,” Murillo said.

The first lady said the city is identifying areas to locate new dumps where people can cart their garbage. She urged residents who live in neighborhoods with municipal trash-collection services to put their garbage out on the street right before the truck passes, so street dogs don’t tear the bags apart looking for food.

Murillo said the government is organizing meetings with horse-cart drivers to instruct them where the new authorized dumping areas will be.

The cleanliness campaign, Murillo stressed, is for the commonweal.

“This campaign will procure health, mental health, physical health, spiritual health and it will procure a pretty image, an image cleanliness and freedom for our Nicaragua,” she said.

It might also procure a profit.

Presidential kin Laureano Ortega, who holds some sort of advisory job with investment-promotion agency ProNicaragua, signed a $150 million agreement this week with a company called Biomass Investment Nicaragua (BINICSA) to build a series of biomass energy plants in Managua, Matagalpa, León, Rivas, Estelí, Tipitapa, Masaya, Ciudad Sandino, Jinotega and Chinandega.

Ortega announced the deal on Wednesday during a private press conference for Sandinista media outlets managed by his siblings. He said the biomass deal is “in line with the orientations” of his father, President Daniel Ortega, and in coordination with the “Live Pretty” campaign of his mother.

“There is a process whereby the company (BINICSA) will support the mayors’ offices ability to collect garbage,” Ortega said, according to El 19 digital. “There is a process of giving value to garbage to produce clean energy.”

Detritus distrust

Critics of the government are suspicious of dirty motives behind the cleanliness campaign.

Opposition congressman Eliseo Núñez says Murillo’s campaign is an attempt to whitewash poverty without really doing anything to address the causes of poverty. “The government is trying to create the sensation of wellbeing, to apply makeup to poverty, which is something fascist governments do,” Núñez charged.

The lawmaker warned that the administration could try to institutionalize Murillo’s cleanliness doctrine in the new Family Code. He says the government should focus more on educating people about garbage rather than ordering cleanliness campaigns by fiat.

La Prensa, however, warns that that the “Live Pretty” campaign’s true intention is to infiltrate the public education system to indoctrinate students on “the principles and training of Christian values, socialist ideas and solidarity,” according to an allegedly leaked government document published today in the opposition daily.


  • Andy William

    Not everything the government does needs to be criticized. The trash in these waterways causes excessive rodents and insects. Cleaning it up is not merely masking over poverty.

    I never understood why many people prefer to throw trash or burn it (including plastics) than simply put it out for the city to pick up — even in areas where trash is picked up three times a week.

    We found that some of our employees are embarrassed to pick up trash on the street outside of our offices. We reinforce that keeping the city clean is something to be proud of. After all, it´s our country.

  • Robert Smith

    Whatever the motivation, this has to be a good thing for the country. The environment is precious and delicate. Once lost, gone forever. We are only visitors to this planet and temporary stewards. Let’s do our part to preserve it for the next generation!

  • Gringo O

    How about asking the first lady to redo all the billboards promoting President Ortega’s image to the “cleanup Nicaragua” campaign. Then the campaign can be taken seriously throughout the country.

  • Richard Abrams, M.D.

    Excessive unsightly trash is undeniably an impediment to tourism–removing it should contribute to reducing poverty.

  • nicafred

    Forget underlying motives (if there are any.) Cleaning up this wonderful country can only be a good thing and shame on the nay-sayers.

  • http://no Damian

    A greener and cleaner Nicaragua is crucial for all Nicaraguan stakeholders. Political will, building awareness and educating people and businesses to take responsibility is great! A shame that some are trying to build underlying motives and discredit this noble message. There are economical opportunities every where including with waste and garbage. Good to see more entrepreneurs with a vision of sustainability. They will make profit and all of us will benefit.

  • SAD

    Great, cleaning up Nicaragua needs to happen and maybe its the time.
    On another note how about using resources to educate the people or maybe they don’t want an educated population.

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  • Mela Pellas

    As part of Living Pretty, Murillo should shave her hairy armpits and wash her greasy face more often. Agreed?

    • john tansey

      Your comment is rude and cruel. What good is served by such silliness? I apologize to the first lady for your disrespectful comment.

  • Karen in Los Angeles, Ometepe

    I would say that any campaign to improve the abysmal garbage situation is welcome.

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