If you haven’t heard about what’s going on right now in Nicaragua, you’re not alone. With the media dominated by Trump and his antics, precious little coverage has been given to the relatively new uprising in this Central American country. In a nutshell, civil unrest broke out in April when the Daniel Ortega government threatened some pension reforms that would have taken a big bite out of rank-and-file Nicaraguans’ paychecks. Apparently it was the straw that broke the camel’s back after years of escalating tension with the increasingly repressive Ortega regime.
There’s a lot more to it than that, but the conflict has escalated into a full-blown revolution in which upwards of 150 peaceful demonstrators – mostly students and young people – have been murdered by Ortega’s thugs. Beautiful colonial cities have been torched, tourism is in ruins, and the economy is devastated. It’s having repercussions throughout Central America, since the roadblocks have brought all commerce into and out of surrounding countries to a standstill. It will take many, many years for this wonderful country to recover, and that’s IF the conflict is resolved soon.
The latest Nicaraguan revolution is slowly getting more attention from the international press. Here are a few stories:
The Guardian, “Barricades draw battle lines over Nicaragua’s revolutionary heritage”
The Daily Beast, “Facing Down the Death Squads in Nicaragua”
The Washington Post, “Nicaragua is nearing national catastrophe”
And, ominously, this:
Time, “Nicaragua is Heading Down the Same Dark Path as Venezuela”
When we visited Nicaragua in 2004 aboard our sailboat, we were completely charmed by its scenic beauty, its incredible potential, and – most of all – its people. The country had put the bloody years of the Sandanista-Contra revolution far behind it, and things seemed peaceful. There was a feeling of optimism and a can-do spirit among the young Nicaraguans we met.
One young man, who I’ll call José, worked as a server at the marina where we berthed our boat for several weeks. Only 18, he had ambitions to become a hotel food and beverage manager. He and his family were very poor, and he lived with his parents and many brothers and sisters in a tin shack with a dirt floor. We marveled at how neat and tidy these young people were, even living in such poverty, as they showed up for work at the marina every day.
We, along with the other boaters, took up a collection to send José to school for a degree in hotel and restaurant management. This outstanding young man did us all proud, graduating with honors and going on to run several different resorts in Nicaragua. He only recently married a beautiful young woman, and the future was looking bright indeed for both of them.
I am still in contact with José on social media and yesterday he told me that the situation there is very grim. He said conditions are getting worse every day, and the lack of dialogue is escalating things. He also said that the only hope is involvement from other countries. Fat chance the US will do anything to help (but given its so-called “help” during the Contra era of the 80s, that might be a good thing).
We have another friend there, a fellow expat blogger who lives with her husband on Ometepe Island. Although the island has stayed relatively peaceful so far, they are making plans to leave as soon as possible. This blogger, who takes beautiful photos and writes lyrical stories of life on the island, is heartsick to be leaving behind the home they’ve built along with the library that she helped to establish. While their safety is the immediate concern, my hope is that they will be able to return home soon.
We dedicate this blog post to the people of Nicaragua. Please know that our hearts are aching for you today. Our hope is that you will come through this crisis stronger than ever – and with the representative government you deserve.