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U.S. says embassy worker in Nicaragua free of Ebola

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The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua is downplaying concerns raised by Sandinista health officials in Managua that one of its embassy staff workers was infected with Ebola during a recent mission to Liberia, West Africa. “In no moment was he in contact with Ebola patients,” the U.S. embassy said in statement, following a live broadcast by government health workers claiming the exact opposite. The embassy said the staffer, whose identity has not been released, was fully examined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta after coming back from Africa and prior to his return to Nicaragua. “The CDC was in direct contact with Nicaraguan authorities and told them of the staff worker’s imminent return to Nicaragua, and confirmed that he did not have any symptoms of the disease,” the embassy’s statement reads. “The staffer continues to not have any systems related to the disease.”

The embassy added that it had informed Nicaraguan health authorities about the trip two weeks ago, and they had approved his return to Managua afterwards. Continue Reading →

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Plaza Inter cancels kiddie swimsuit competition

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A popular shopping mall in downtown Managua has agreed to cancel its annual kiddie swimsuit competition this weekend following an uproar on Facebook and in traditional media outlets. Plaza Inter, Nicaragua’s oldest modern shopping mall, said it decided to cancel Saturday’s show to quell controversy following this week’s pushback on Facebook. Mall administrators insist the annual event, which pit bikini-clad 6-10 year old girls against one another on the catwalk, was never intended to be exploitative or sexually suggestive. “This is not prostitution, it’s just family entertainment,” said Plaza Inter’s Miriam Garcia. Garcia said the mall has held the same competition every year for “many years,” but this is the first time there’s been any controversy — something she attributes to recent sexual-abuse scandals and Nicaraguans’ growing level of online activism. Continue Reading →

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Campesinos threaten school boycott in protest over canal

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Nicaraguan farmers are threatening to pull their kids from school if the government doesn’t halt plans to build a $50 billion Chinese canal through their communities. Anti-canal activists in several dozen farming communities along the canal route are circulating petitions asking parents to boycott the 2015 school year, which starts next Monday. Community leaders in San Miguelito claim soldiers have been using rural schoolhouses during students’ summer recess as makeshift barracks to militarize the countryside and quell anti-canal protests. Though the army has recently withdrawn from the area, residents fear the soldiers could return at any moment and occupy the schools again. And parents don’t want their kids around when that happens. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua’s opposition, church decry fatal backpack bomb in Pantasma

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(posted Jan 26, 11:15 pm) —Nicaragua’s opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) today called on President Daniel Ortega to work towards finding a peaceful solution to growing political violence in the northern mountains of Jinotega after a weekend attack with a mysterious backpack bomb killed three alleged rearmed contras in the municipality of Pantasma. A communiqué from an alleged rearmed contra group known as the FDC-380 claims that six “guerrillas and an unknown number of civilians” were killed when a cellphone packed with C-4 was detonated remotely in a plot to kill rearmed contra leaders known as Comandates Aguila and Sereno. The communiqué blames the the Nicaraguan Army for planting the bomb. Nicaraguan media puts the death toll at three. The Army denies any involvement in the case and said the investigation is being handled by the police, according to La Prensa. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua police release all 6 anti-canal leaders

Protest leader Octavio Ortega after being released today

(updated Dec 30, 1 pm)— Nicaraguan police has released all  six leaders of the campesino Land Defense Council after more than 150 hours of illegal detention, according to local media reports. The campesino leaders, local organizers of a group that has vowed to defend landowners from forced expropriations for the Chinese canal project, all showed signs of being beaten, according to witnesses. The anti-canal protesters were among the 47 campesinos who were beaten and grabbed during a violent Christmas Eve clash with riot police. Read more on this story here. Continue Reading →

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Feliz Navidad, from Rosario and Google Translate

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The following is a special Christmas message from Nicaragua’s first lady, Rosario Murillo. Since it’s Christmas Eve and I can’t be bothered to translate her yuletide cheer, I let Google Translate do the job for me, like a dutiful elf. From Rosario:

“Today reborn Jesus Christ in our hearts, now reborn commitment to get better Christians, now reborn commitment to lead with humility. “We will ask God that good heart that we Nicaraguans have become increasingly large, because of good heart and good deeds arise arises the commitment of the Common Good. “Good Heart is love big, and we want to live, love big, peace big, big country, big dreams, big prosperity for all.” Continue Reading →

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Residents, tourists fail to save beached whale

Beached whale on Popoyo

(Posted Nov 15, 12:00) — Residents and tourists working together were unable to save a beached blue whale on Popoyo Beach, which was discovered on Friday morning. Video by Xiomara Diaz. The female whale was an estimated 18 meters long. Dozens of Nicaraguans and foreigners worked throughout the day, evening and into this morning trying to save the whale, but they were unable to push it back to deeper water. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua on alert as tsunami danger passes

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(posted Oct 14, 6:15 am)— Nicaraguan emergency-response workers have activated contingency plans to evaluate damage and assess continued risk to lives and properties along the Pacific coast following a strong 7.3-magnitude earthquake and 17 aftershocks over the past 12 hours. Public school classes have been suspended for the day and authorities are calling for calm after a shaky evening. So far there are no serious injuries or deaths reported. There are reports are minor damages to a dozen homes in the affected area. The first quake occurred 67 Km off the coast of Chinandega, at a depth of 22 KM. Continue Reading →

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BREAKING: Normal seas reported following 7.3-quake

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(updated 11:50 a.m.) —Nicaragua has been placed on “yellow alert” for a tsunami on the Pacific coast following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake at 9:50 p.m. off the coast of Chinandega. First Lady Rosario Murillo said that the government has activated its system of disaster prevention, but so far there are no reports of “abnormal waves” or high seas on the Pacific coast. As a preventive measure, school has been canceled all along the Pacific coast for Tuesday. Murillo said the government is investigating reports of damaged homes in León. There are still no reports of injuries or deaths in Nicaragua. Continue Reading →

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