With the removal of 179,000 antipersonnel mines scattered throughout its territory, Nicaragua has closed one of the most painful chapters of its postwar period, which killed and mutilated dozens of victims over the last twenty-one years, military spokespersons announced.
With the removal of 179,000 antipersonnel mines scattered throughout its territory, Nicaragua has closed one of the most painful chapters of its postwar period, which killed and mutilated dozens of victims over the last twenty-one years, military spokespersons announced. The mines laid in 74 of Nicaragua’s 153 municipalities have been removed, AFP was told by military spokesman Col. Juan Morales, for whom this puts an end to “a vestige of the war” that caused pain to 1,278 affected individuals, counting both those wounded and those killed, the majority of them civilians. Nicaragua, a signatory to international agreements to eliminate landmines, has also destroyed another 133,435 that it had in storage, according to official figures. With the demining of Nicaragua, Central America is now “free of antipersonnel mines,” according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in Geneva, an unofficial body that works to eradicate weapons of this kind around the world. Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, in a ceremony with Nicaraguan and foreign guests, declared the fulfillment of the demining plan, but warned that “there is a risk” that some landmines still remain. If people find strange objects, “they should not touch them” and should notify the army, he indicated. The Humanitarian Demining Program, which cost about 82.19 million dollars, was implemented without interruption from 1994 to 1 May this year, with international assistance. Although the war between ‘Contras’ and Sandinistas officially ended on 27 June 1990, peasants continued to be imprisoned in their own communities by landmines on their outskirts. The Nicaraguan Army estimates that demining will benefit nearly two million people in these areas. These explosives were laid for the most part along sectors of Nicaragua’s borders with Honduras and Costa Rica and in the interior of the country to protect electrical transmission towers, bridges, and landing strips.