Country Listing

Nicaragua Table of Contents


Public Administration

Nicaragua's public employees are not perceived as civil servants; new appointments are usually made on the basis of political patronage rather than through a selection system based on merit. Nevertheless, both the Sandinista government and the Chamorro government have respected the positions of those whom they found occupying public administration posts when each successive government took power. The primary motive of the Sandinista government, which took power after a revolution, may have been expediency, as it needed at least a core of persons who had occupied posts under the previous Somoza administration to instruct it in the workings of the government. In the case of the Chamorro government, the position of public employees was guaranteed by the transition pacts and was protected by law.

Public employee ranks include not only office workers but also medical and other professional personnel hired by the Sandinista government to work in public programs and state-owned businesses. Soon after the Chamorro government took power, the number of public employees was estimated in newspaper accounts at 150,000, most of whom were Sandinistas. Efforts to restructure the laws to eliminate some public employees led to a strike in May 1990 (see Interest Groups , ch. 4). When the Chamorro government sought in early 1991 to cut the number of public employees, it had to offer incentives for workers who volunteered to leave, as well as additional incentives for businesses to hire former government workers or for the workers themselves to set up private enterprises. By the time the severance program expired in April 1992, some 23,000 workers had resigned to take advantage of the plan, and some 20,000 soldiers and police officers has been dismissed.

Data as of December 1993