Speech to the Nation by President Enrique Bolaños
Following presentation of proof of corruption against former President, Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo
Managua, August 7, 2002. In the name of God and of Nicaragua.
The presentation made by Dr. Francisco Fiallos, Acting Attorney General of Justice, in regards to the accusations against Dr. Arnoldo Alemán is painful.
To present this accusation before the Courts of Justice is not a source of happiness but rather one of pain and sadness. If it were not so painful and sad, this accusation would necessarily lose its most important strength: its moral and ethical force.
You and I know that throughout the course of our history one of the most important factors that has caused and sustained our poverty has been corruption: the improper use of State funds for personal gain.
The people of Nicaragua voted overwhelmingly, just 10 months ago, in favor of the promises that, on behalf of my Liberal Consitutional Party, I made to the Nation.
With that vote, you and I decided to put an end to that degrading tradition of improper use of State resources for personal gain. You and I want to create in our country a new era of moral renewal, transparency, honesty, and accountability in order to embark on a new course toward development that would lead to a rebirth of confidence and more investment for the creation of new jobs that would enable us to, slowly but surely, achieve a life with dignity.
Arnoldo, if you are watching, I must tell you I am saddened, pained and disappointed after seeing irrefutable and conclusive proof that point to the former President of the Republic as the author and accomplice of such a crime with the little money of the people of Nicaragua.
Arnoldo, I never would have imagined that you would betray your people like that. You took part of the savings of retirees, medicine from the poor, salaries from our teachers. You cheated our people of their trust! For this reason, our Country demands that I speak frankly today and say honestly and clearly that it can not continue working towards progress if we remain the hostages of corruption and dishonesty.
All of us have much work ahead to find better solutions, and the transparent, honest and sincere cooperation from all the branches of Government. We must fulfill the promises we made during the campaign and deliver on what we were elected to do.
But we all know, unfortunately, that there is one branch of government that is being held hostage by one person that does not allow the rest of us to do their duty. With his attitude, this person clearly sends us a message that he could cooperate with the actions of the Executive Branch if the staunch fight against corruption were to be halted. But the fight against corruption will not stop.
We cannot halt this fight against corruption because to do so would turn us into accomplices and because it would betray the vote the people gave us. It is a commitment of honor between the people, the Liberal Constitutional Party, Enrique Bolaños, José Rizo, as well as my party delegates.
This afternoon, the Office of the Attorney General submitted before one of the Crime Courts of Managua the first indictment for the first “guaca” or stash of money extracted from the State coffers. This accusation is made against the delegate of the National Assembly, Dr. Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo, for the crimes of money laundering and/or assets gained through illegal activity, embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, fraud, intent to break the law and for the purposes of committing crimes.
Other accusations will be brought forth later on, many more for different “guacas” and other crimes that remain under investigation.
The process is slow. In one “guaca” there are more than 10,000 checks under scrutiny.
Accusations for these same crimes are being leveled against Byron Jerez Solís, Ethel del Socorro González de Jeréz, Valeria Jerez González, Esteban Duque Estrada, Jorge Solís Farias, Amelia Alemán Lacayo, Alvaro Alemán Lacayo, Mayra Estrada Alemán, Arnoldo Antonio Alemán Estrada, María Dolores Alemán Cardenal, Ligia Segovia and Auxiliadora López.
After months of work, the Attorney General’s Office has today announced with certainty that it has overwhelming proof, credit notes, checks, deeds, transactions, transfers. Everything is well documented in original documents that clearly and unequivocally demonstrate the great fraud committed against the State coffers through the laundering of substantial sums of money and by misappropriating public funds for the benefit of the accused and other persons.
As I said, everything that is happening is painful to me, mostly because delegate Alemán went against the interests of the people of Nicaragua and because it involves someone who calls himself a Liberal. It also hurts me because, it involves his family.
This cannot make anybody in Nicaragua feel proud. Rather, it is a fact that, besides being painful, also causes us shame and indignation and makes us reflect on our values as individuals and as a society.
I have seen through the latest polls that 81 percent of Nicaraguans believe I should take my fight against corruption to the end. 51 percent of the population believes the creation of jobs must be a priority for the Government and both of these tasks are intimately linked.
The creation of jobs requires a true, transparent Rule of Law with no room for corruption. Therefore, the message of Nicaraguans is that we must do away with the scourge of corruption once and for all so that we may dedicate ourselves to the creation of permanent job sources and create wealth so we may take this nation out of poverty.
I hear the people of Nicaragua do not want the National Assembly to be used as a trench for impunity. The opinion polls confirm and demand it. I hear the messages sent to me from various representative groups of the most prominent social forces in the country. I add my voice to that clamor and those demands of society and I side, as first citizen, with their demands.
I, therefore, accept the petition being made by civil society and headed by my own signature backing a request to our honorable delegates in the National Assembly that they honor the requests of our Court of Justice to strip Dr. Arnolso Aleman of his immunity so that he may be investigated and prosecuted within the framework of our laws and in keeping with the strict and absolute respect of his Constitutional rights.
I invite all of you to sign these petitions so that he knows that there is a people here that overwhelmingly supports the fight against corruption. These signatures are the endorsement of honesty, decency, morality and ethics. They are not a sign of support to me personally. God willing, I will spend five years in the Presidency and not one day more. I would like to leave behind a better country and a strengthened Liberal party.
Today I call upon my people, those people who gave me their vote as well as those who did not, to forge together a new Nicaragua, dignified, proud, held in high regard. I call upon them to undertake a broad civic movement in rejection of corruption as well as the use of the National Assembly as a place of refuge for those who, having been accused of corruption, pretend to evade justice.
Today we need everyone’s support but with the following conditions, which I know are asked for and demanded by the people: Absolute respect to the institutional order and the laws of the Republic. No disturbances, no mobs, no violence, no popular uprisings. Those of us who support this crusade against corruption do not want to see disorder, insults, acts of vandalism. The crusade of civil expression on the part of those who understand the truth should be made voluntarily, in a civic and patriotic manner.
It is time to demonstrate a national conscience. Together we are forging a moral revolution. A peaceful revolution without bullets, mortars, popular disturbances, mobs nor threats of violence. This is the type of moral renewal that we want for all Nicaraguans. This is the New Era of the new Nicaragua we are building together.
I would like address the honorable delegates: do not fear. Listen to the clamor of Nicaragua. Examine and analyze the evidence that has been presented. Notice how the money of State institutions is illegally channeled to the Nicaraguan Democratic Foundation (NDF) and then to the pocketbooks of the Aleman family.
I ask the delegates, and especially the liberal delegates, to examine the signatures of delegate Arnoldo Aleman on the accounts of the FDN, which he argues belongs to our party but in fact is not recognized by the party treasurer himself. That account belongs to Arnoldo Alemán, María Dolores Alemán, Byron Jeréz, Alfredo Fernández and does not belong to our party.
It is even more shameful to try to allege and do everything possible to show that this FDN account belongs to our party since it has been illegally funded with State money. In that case it would be shameful for the party to accept it. My party wants to act in accordance with the law, transparency and honesty to which we are committed.
Honorable delegates, Nicaragua and the world is watching us. Nicaragua and the world expects us to be faithful to our personal dignity, that of our spouses, children, grandchildren, our very names. May God enlighten each and every one of us especially the delgates.
May their conscience as citizens and their patriotic obligation with the people that overwhelmingly clamor for justice to punish the corrupt inspire them and lead them to vote with the interest of their country at heart. As the saying goes, if you do so your country will reward you or demand it of you. I would also like to ask the Judicial Branch that these cases of corruption being aired today in the Courts do not become partisan so that the law may be applied as it should, without distinction of political ideology or economic power.
Nicaragua would ask that you respect the Constitutional principles and guarantees of due process for the accused and the accusers. Nicaragua would ask that the methods of proof be weighed according to the law in an impartial, independent and correct manner. Nicaragua would ask that at the conclusion of the process, justice be served and in such a way that no one can later say that political vengeance or a payback transpired or even a pact to cover up corruption.
May God enlighten us so that we Nicaraguans can also say that change is also being wrought in the judicial system that will enable us to usher in the New Era of the new Nicaragua. We will continue being poor but we will have recovered hope and we will be able to proudly say: Nicaragua has buried corruption.
May God Bless Nicaragua. May God’s grace precede us constantly.