.- Newly elected Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, must honor his promise to bring social justice to the country, Bishop David Zywiec, Auxiliary Bishop of Bluefields, on the country’s northern Atlantic coast, has told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
During a recent visit to the charity, the prelate called on the president, a former Marxist revolutionary, to repay voters’ trust by tackling poverty head on. “The people are saying that they want change,” the bishop stated. “We believe the government should be participative, and the people have to be a part of that. The country is rich in resources and the people need a share of this wealth.”
“It is the Church’s duty to press the government’s promise to focus on the poor,” he added.
Bishop Zywiec went on to outline Church projects addressing wide-spread poverty in Nicaragua, where civil war, dictatorship, and natural disasters have ravaged the economy, leaving it one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere.
Zywiec told how the Church in Bluefields has established an education program for school children in rural areas where there were no state-run schools. 20,000 children, who otherwise would not learn to read and write, have benefited thus far, said the bishop. “The people can pay for the schooling by doing work for the teachers and the teachers also have the opportunity to study.”
The Church is also backing a plan to provide a leader to run health programs in each parish, he added. According to the bishop, preserving peace between the country’s ethnic groups would also be a key concern for the government. Bluefields is home to a large number of Miskito Indians and tensions over their territory have continued to mount, he explained.
Although Miskito territory is protected by law, small landowners who had lost their land to large corporations are seeking new land in those territories, explained Bishop Zywiec. “The government needs to ensure the law is carried out and the Miskito lands are clearly marked off to prevent tensions from developing,” he said.
In 2005, ACN gave more than 440,000 Euro for pastoral projects, such as construction of church buildings or the formation of priests, religious and laity, in Nicaragua.