Nicaragua is a country of stark contrasts. It’s a country of soaring beauty and devastating poverty. It’s a country with enormous lakes and beautiful coastline, but the people have no water. It’s a tropical country, but there is very little fruit. There is promise of change, but very delivery of an improved life.
Nicaragua is one of the poorest Latin American country, really only surpassed by Haiti. It is a country run by the revolutionary party the FSLN (Frente Sandista Liberacion Nacional) led by Daniel Ortega. While demonized outside of Nicaragua Daniel, as everyone calls him in Nicaragua, is loved by the voting majority, the poor. Daniel Ortega has led the FSLN off and on since the 1979 revolution when the last vestige of the Somoza Dynasty relinquished power under extreme pressures from the rebel army. Yet the clandestine fighting before 1979 paled in comparison to war that came after the FSLN took power. Between 1979 and 1987 the United States fought a covert war in the country against the FSLN called the Contra War. Two decades of warfare ravaged the country leaving deep scars. Yet people in their mid-30s barely remember or know about the fighting; A great forgetting. Two enormous volcanoes greet visitors coming from the south – the volcanoes Concepcíon and Madera loom over Lake Nicaragua like two impressive centurions guarding a broad entrance, harbingers of this country’s story. Nicaragua is accustomed to its fiery history, a history of tragic events, hard yet beautiful.
Daniel’s (pronounced ‘Danielle’) Nicaragua is a socialist country since the over throw of the long US backed Somoza Dynasty (1934-1979). The present slogan of the FSLN is “¡Cristiana, Socialista, Solitaria!” and “Con Todos y Por El Bien de Todos”. This Catholic, Socialist country is a little known jewel to the traveler. It’s spectacular beauty, incredible surfing beaches, and low exchange price for the Cordoba draws the more adventurous tourist… and brave investor. Beachfront property in Nicaragua runs about $10,000 dollars on which you could put your quarter-of-a-million dollar home, if you don’t mind that your neighbors live in small wood lean-tos with no running water. This is a country of intense contradictions.
Daniel’s slogan All Nicaraguans for Nicaragua is a farce. Daniel Ortega has gone against the roots of rebellion. He is a born-again Christian and while he travels to all of the villages garnering a great deal of love and support by the people, he is amassing great amounts of wealth for himself and has altered the Nicaraguan constitution so that he (or his wife) can continue in office — a dictator for life. I see the shelves empty of medicines. I hear about broken pipes and no water. I see the homes with dirt floors, the oxen and horse drawn carts. I also see the million dollar homes where Nicaraguans clean toilets and cook the food. Socialism isn’t working, nor the neoliberal intrusions of wealth. There is no economic or social equality here.