As he left a workshop in the Nicaraguan capital about gender equality, Alejandro Silva was forced to confront a show of machismo, ironically, with his fists. He was attacked by classmates who taunted him that he was gay.
Although their human rights are increasingly recognised, blacks in Mexico and Central America are the poorest and most marginalised people in Latin America, according to experts.
An independent study has confirmed that extreme poverty in Nicaragua fell by 7.5 percentage points between 2005 and 2009, an achievement clouded by criticism of the environmental costs, a supposed lack of transparency and the paternalism of the country's social programmes.
For 46 years, Nicanor García didn't know that his first name was seven letters long and that the first letter was also the start of the names of his country, Nicaragua, and his father, Norberto. He found out just eight months ago, when he finally learned how to read and write.
Josefina Rodríguez very nearly lost her life trying to protect the small plot of farmland in rural Nicaragua that allows her to support her family. Twelve years ago her husband wanted to sell the land, and when she stood up to him, he attacked her with a machete, almost killing her.
More than 1.8 million Nicaraguans are at high risk due to the various natural disasters that strike this Central American country, according to Civil Defence authorities.
Non-governmental organisations in Nicaragua are questioning data on the maternal mortality rate released by the government, which is claiming a historic decline in the indicator, and they warn that the reduction target that the country has committed itself to by 2015 is still out of reach.
Nicaragua slammed the door on any possible debate on the restitution of therapeutic abortion - performed to save the life of the pregnant woman - despite demands that it do so voiced during a United Nations review of human rights in the country.
The Nicaraguan state has embarked on an iron-fisted policy, including the use of military force, to clamp down on those responsible for environmental depredation, after repeated denunciations by organisations and government officials that the country's two largest biosphere reserves are being plundered.
At last, homosexuals in Nicaragua have someone to uphold their rights: an ombudswoman for sexual diversity has been appointed to defend the rights of the gay community, estimated to number half a million people.
More than one million poor children in Nicaragua will enjoy a massive Christmas celebration this month, complete with recreational activities and presents, organised by the government of President Daniel Ortega. But the opposition is criticising the project as populist and eccentric.
Two national surveys and the latest report on perceptions of corruption by Transparency International support the view that a culture of graft continues to undermine the foundations of Nicaraguan society, in spite of efforts to fight the problem in the last few years.
Gender-based violence and sexual abuse are serious public security problems in Central America, and Nicaragua is no exception, according to reports by United Nations agencies and women’s organisations.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has been accused before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights of responsibility for a series of violent incidents, which in the view of some analysts and civil society organisations have harmed democracy in the country.
Although the UNDP's Report on Human Development in Central America 2009-2010 says the region has the highest rates of non-political crime in the world, there are nevertheless plenty of opportunities to improve public security, analysts and experts say.
If they could, about 60 percent of Nicaraguans under 30 would go to live abroad, according to studies on migration, which find that the country's chronic poverty is the main reason for wanting to migrate.
The Nicaraguan Red Cross is conducting an awareness-raising campaign to increase voluntary blood donations and meet hospital demand, in order to compensate for changes in blood collection practices and address a severe health crisis caused by outbreaks of dengue fever, pneumonia and H1N1 influenza.
After an intense two-year literacy campaign, Nicaragua has managed to reduce the number of people who cannot read and write to below four percent of the adult population, from nearly 21 percent.
The huge number of supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya who have flocked to a small farming town in the north of Nicaragua have caused a social emergency that could spiral into a full-fledged humanitarian crisis, said United Nations officials visiting the area.
"Don’t worry, your job will be here when you come back," Lorena Castillo’s supervisor reassured her when she asked to take a day off for a gynaecologist appointment. She had been working at the textile factory for the past six months and it was the first time she asked for a day off. It turned out to be her last.
The global recession, internal economic contraction and loss of vital international aid are further distancing Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).