“Getting money is like digging with a needle, spending it is like water soaking into sand.” ~Japanese Proverb.
The Proposed Route of the Nicaraguan Canal
I may be naïve, but I subscribe to the idea that nobody is making strategic decisions about the Nicaraguan Canal Project. I’ve followed the Nicaraguan Canal Project for two years, now. The talk is grand, but the transparency surrounding the canal is nonexistent.
“US fugitive Edward Snowden has abandoned his request for political asylum in Russia after learning he would have to stop leaking intelligence reports, the Kremlin said Tuesday, as the American awaited asylum decisions from 20 other countries.” (Dmitry Zaks, AFP, July 2, 2013).
According to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, other countries in which Snowden may seek asylum include China, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, India, Nicaragua and Spain. Nicaragua??? My expat home? I’m torn with conflicting emotions if Nicaragua were to accept Snowden.
On the one hand, I believe that Snowden is a whistleblower, not a traitor. A traitor is someone who gives information to the enemy. Are ‘We the People’ the enemy? Don’t we have a right to know about our government’s secret surveillance program, especially if it is ‘We the People’ who are being watched?
Certainly, it is no secret because George W. Bush authorized warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the September 11, 2001 attacks as part of the war on terrorism. In 2005, public disclosure ignited the outrage of the potential misuse of data mining of e-mail messages and telephone call records in the NSA call database. We’ve known about this for years.
I’m siding with Snowden on this issue. He is not a traitor, only a concerned citizen who risked his life and his professional career to inform us of the potential dangers of warrantless wiretapping and government surveillance of its own citizens. Let’s face it, we all know that we are being watched, not only by our government, but by the marketing media who records every click, every ‘like’, and every internet move we make in the digital age.
The other day, I was researching metal detectors and protest music. Weird combination, I know, but sometimes in my mind works in mysterious ways. In looking for protest music on YouTube, a little ad at the bottom of the video tried to direct me to metal detectors. What??? How could they possibly know that I was researching metal detectors? Honestly, browser snooping scares me. It unnerves me to think that my every move on the internet is recorded for marketing purposes.
Yet, what frightens me more are the potential problems for Nicaragua. If Snowden were to receive asylum in my expat country would I offer him my guest house as a reprieve from the mad warlock hunt? Impulsively, I would say, “Yes”. I admire his bravery and his tenacity. On the other hand, I imagine this scenario or nightmare…your choice:
Snowden snuggles peacefully under the mosquito net in our guest house, while unidentified flying objects circle the periphery of our property. Strangers disguised as lone fishermen, paddle around the lake wearing night goggles and Google glasses. Economic sanctions by the U.S. prohibit the export of Nicaraguan coffee, gold, and beef. The United States, Nicaragua’s main trading partner who bought 29% of Nicaragua’s exports in 2012, stops trading with Nicaragua. All U.S. expats and tourists are stopped at every border crossing, strip searched and aggressively interrogated. Legal expats can no longer leave or enter Nicaragua without special permission from the U.S. Tourism comes to an abrupt halt. Fear overwhelms the local people struggling to make a living because all trading has stopped. NGOs are prohibited from sending donations and supplies to Nicaragua. Nicaragua, my beloved adopted country, quickly loses all economic gains it has made in recent years.
If Edward Snowden knocks on my door in my little oasis of peace, I’m afraid I would have to say, “Sorry, Edward. I admire your bravery, but I am a coward with too much at risk. Please find another country for political asylum.” For you see, I love Nicaragua more than I admire Snowden’s courageous whistle blowing. Life is all about making informed decisions. Every choice has a consequence whether good or bad, right or wrong, bitter or sweet. Laurie Buchanon says, “The life we live is an expression of the choices we make.” I chose Nicaragua before, and I will choose Nicaragua again. Surely, Snowden understands that individual choices can have global consequences. I wish you the best, Edward Snowden. Safe travels in your search for peace and political asylum.
Today are the Nicaraguan municipal elections throughout the country. Sober voters will march to the polls after church because the government suspended all liquor sales on Saturday at noon. It is impossible to buy liquor until Monday at noon. Too bad because with all of the election day madness in the states…I need a stiff drink!
Last week, I received an invitation to the U.S. Presidential election celebration held at the U.S. Embassy in Managua. The reason I received the invitation is because I am the U.S. Embassy Warden representative for Ometepe Island. Basically, it is a fancy title for a messenger. When the U.S. Embassy has a message for U.S. citizens, they email me the message and I relay it through our expat Google group on the island. It’s just a matter of copy…save…paste.
Yet, I was really excited to attend this celebration and honored to be invited. I started making plans for Ron and I to attend. We needed fancy clothes, new shoes, and a safe hotel in Managua. My friend, Theresa, was going to let me rummage through all of her fancy party clothes since we are about the same size. My baby needed a new pair of shoes. We knew this was going to be a challenge finding appropriate shoes on the island, but we were ready to tackle any and all obstacles that got in our way of attending the gala. Excitement flowed through the air at our house like static electricity.
I emailed my RSVP to the embassy. “Yes, my husband and I will be attending. Thank you so much for the invitation. We are excited to attend.” However, the emailed response I received shattered my plans like a glass machete. “Your husband is not invited.”
But, why? Is there increased security at all U.S. Embassies throughout the world because of acts of terror? When I called the embassy, they told me that there simply wasn’t enough room in the small embassy for my husband. It reminded me of the time we took our small dog camping with us. When we registered, the receptionist asked us if we had any pets because they were prohibited in the campground. “Yes, but he is only a little dog,” I replied.
I’m disappointed. I don’t feel comfortable going to Managua alone and certainly not traveling by taxi at night to and from the embassy. I politely expressed my disappointment and declined the invitation for the U.S. Embassy U.S. Presidential election night celebration. It looks like we will celebrate our own Presidential election day madness here on the island…but, on the upside…we’ll be able to buy beer and rum …wear flip-flops…and shout at the TV…as long as we have electricity. :-)
Mitt Romney’s faux pas during the second Presidential debate would NEVER be understood in Nicaragua. When he claimed to have been presented with “binders full of women”, my only thought was of the plight of Nicaraguan women. There are many dusty binders of Nicaraguan women stacked on police officers’ shelves, only they are full of reports of domestic violence, abuse, exploitation, and sex trafficking…certainly not women’s resumes.
How do I explain equal rights to my impoverished neighbor with three children under the age of three, who washes dirty diapers by hand in the lake, cooks every meal over a fire, while sweeping the trash from her dirt floor into the street, and tending to the needs of her invalid father-in-law? Adioska doesn’t have a clue about resumes or equal pay in a country where the average take-home pay for men is $100 a month. She lives in survival mode daily… from one crisis to another.
What can I tell her? It’s your duty to fight for women’s rights? Last October, a 12-year-old girl, who was raped and impregnated by her step-father, gave birth to a five-pound baby boy. “According to the Strategic Group of the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion, 1,453 of the young girls (ages 10-14) who were raped in Nicaragua last year were forced to give birth due to Nicaragua’s total ban on therapeutic abortion.” See article here. Under Nicaraguan law, the 12-year-old mother was denied access to a therapeutic abortion, becoming a poster child for the Sandinista government’s ban on abortion in all circumstances.
Gender-based violence is a serious problem in Nicaragua. Poverty, close family ties, and a lack of basic education contribute to thousands of victims’ inability to escape abuse and exploitation. Although the majority of Nicaraguans oppose gender-based violence (including men), the challenge is what to do once the abuse has occurred. But, not all remains dire in the binders of Nicaraguan women.
On January 26, 2012, the Nicaraguan Parliament unanimously approved a Comprehensive Violence Against Women’s Act. This law recognizes femicide ( killing of women) and other violence against women as criminal acts and punishable under Nicaraguan law. The government established a commission, strengthening government agencies that provide services for women and children, as well as providing training and information for all government officials and the general public. Female police officers specializing in domestic violence are available in every department of Nicaragua. We even have a trained specialist in our little port town of Moyogalpa! Of course, funding for human service programs is a universal problem.
Domestic violence safe houses are popping up in local communities. The Solidarity House, a shelter for women and girls, is located in San Juan Del Sur. It is one of five shelters in Nicaragua that provides assistance to women and young girls. The other shelters are in Managua, Waslala, Ocotal, and Puerto Cabezas.
It is a fledgling beginning. Meanwhile, the little 12 year-old who gave birth to her stepfather’s child, is living at home. Her mother lives with the rapist of her daughter, as if nothing happened. She has been robbed of her childhood…her self-esteem…her life. Adioska continues to nurture and care for her family. She’s too busy to attend the rallies advocating for women’s rights, but she is aware and encouraged by the attention and focus given to women in Nicaragua.
There is still a long way to go before women’s rights are fully recognized in Nicaragua. Yet, the binders are slowly filling up with new laws protecting women and children. Maybe someday, we can hope for binders full of women’s resumes, instead of reports of violence. That’s my wish for Nicaraguan women and children. Poco y poco.
The arrival of the Nahuatl began around 1200 AD. Related to the Aztecs, they migrated to the south when their Nahua empire was destroyed by another tribe, the Chichimecas. Nicaragua takes its name from the indigenous tribal Chief Nicarao, who lived around Lake Nicaragua in the late 1400s.
In 1524, Hernandez de Cordoba, Spanish conquistador, founded the first Spanish permanent settlements in the region, including two of Nicaragua’s principal towns: Granada on Lake Nicaragua, and Leon, located west of Lake Managua.
The Spanish conquistadors tried to impose their religion, customs, and culture on the indigenous ethnic groups. For the most part, they were successful. Today, Nicaragua is predominately Hispanic. Spanish became the language of the people, and Catholicism became the almost universal religion.
Walker’s troops and Nicaraguan troops fought a historic battle at San Jacinto hacienda on September 14, 1856, which is now celebrated as a national holiday. In 1857, the Liberals and Conservatives united to drive Walker out of office. He returned to the USA, and after several attempts to return to Central America, he sailed from Mobile in August 1860 and landed in Honduras. Here he was taken prisoner by Captain Salmon, of the British navy, and was surrendered to the Honduran authorities, by whom he was tried and condemned to be shot. He was executed on the 12th of September 1860.
The shadow is that of Augusto C. Sandino, a Nicaraguan general small in statue, but gigantic when it came to patriotic conscience. On January 6, 1927, North American troops entered Nicaragua, arguing that lives and property of U.S. citizens had to be protected. With the support of an army of peasants Sandino showed the world that he was not permitting the exploitation of his free, sovereign country. He was declared hero of the dignity of Latin America, battling against North American imperialists.
A truce was declared in 1933, but unfortunately in 1932, the National Guard was headed for the first time in history by a Nicaraguan military: Anastasio Somoza García. When the U.S. military departed, their parting gift was to set up the National Guard. Somoza was a long-time friend of the U.S. and became heavily involved in assisting the U.S. in developing the National Guard.
The next year, General Somoza, started an evident persecution of old Sandinista soldiers, illegally arresting, hurting, and even killing these men. Sandino complained to the puppet President Sarcasa. Sandino was invited to a gala by the president and the same Somoza. After arranging a compromise of ceasefire, Sandino accepted the offer. On the road, in Managua, the car of Sandino was intercepted by soldiers of the National Guard. The soldiers then escorted Sandino and two of his generals to a place where the hero and his men were brutally shot to death. And sadly, all Sandino wanted was a free country!
Rigoberto López Pérez was known for the assassination of Anastasio Somoza García, the long-time dictator in Nicaragua, who controlled several puppet presidents. Born in Leon, he was a poet and composer. On September 21, 1956, he infiltrated a party in which Somoza attended, and shot him in the chest. Lopéz was killed instantly in a hail of bullets, and Somoza died a few days later in Panama.
Anastasio Somoza’s son, Luis Somoza Debayle, assumed the presidency after his father was assassinated. He was educated in the U.S. and ruled from 1957 to 1967. Luis and his younger brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, shared NO brotherly love. Luis made Anastasio head of the National Guard because of a family obligation, however; Luis wanted no part of his younger brother becoming president. Unfortunately, Luis died of a heart attack a few months before a rigged “election” in which Anastasio Somoza Debayle assumed the presidency.
Anastasio ruled with the power of his beloved National Guard crushing any and all rebellions. By 1970, the general population of Nicaraguans had no love for their leader. After the devastating earthquake of 1972, Anastasio ripped off all the international funds Nicaragua received to rebuild…and all hell broke loose with the Sandinista Nicaraguan rebels, led by Carlos Fonseca.
Carlos was a Nicaraguan teacher and librarian, who founded the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1963. Known for his poor eyesight, notice the dark framed glasses in the mural. In his earlier years, he became enamored with politics and idolized Sandino. Between 1959 and 1963, Fonseca and his motley crew of revolutionaries experimented with a variety of organizational forms. He had hoped to model the revolution in Nicaragua after the Cuban revolution. Fonseca fought hard, but died in an ambush in the Nicaraguan mountains in 1976, three years before the FSLN took power.
In 1977, when Jimmy Carter was President of the U.S., he began to press Somoza to change his image, clean up the National Guard, and stop terrorizing the people of his country or face losing U.S. support. On January 10, 1978, Pedro Chamorro, editor of La Prenza and a very vocal opponent of Somoza, was assassinated on his way to work. Resistance and violence to the Somoza regime continued. In May, 1979 the U.S. feared that if Somoza came down, a Communist regime would take its place, and they were prepared to do almost anything to prevent that from happening. So, the U.S. approved an IFM loan of $66 million to the Somoza regime. However, even that wasn’t enough to stop the uprising. By June, 1979, after a televised execution of Bill Stewart, an ABC newsman, by Somoza’s National Guard, the sympathies of the U.S. people had turned to the Sandinista rebels. The U.S. government tried to compromise with the Sandinista rebels, but the FSLN wanted only complete and total surrender.
July 17,1979, Somoza flew to Miami, and the FSLN took control of Nicaragua. Somoza eventually moved to Paraguay, where he was assassinated in 1980 by a Nicaraguan rebel.
From the beginning, Nicaragua has been under attack. Its autonomy and sovereignty are repeatedly impeded. When the Sandinista forces entered Managua on July 20, 1979 hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans celebrated a short-lived ideological freedom. Since the 1850’s, the U.S. government has intervened in Nicaragua…and once again, in the 1980’s the U.S. reared its bullied head.
As the Nicaraguans worked toward self-sufficiency, President Ronald Reagan, fearing a socialist take-over in Nicaragua, secretly and without approval of Congress, funded the Contra War to undermine the Sandinista government. This disastrous ten-year war cost 60,000 lives, and destroyed the country’s economy and infrastructure with estimated losses of $178 billion dollars.
Still, the Nicaraguans continued to fight for their freedom and their right to self-rule. In 1984, the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Nicaragua against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua. The ICJ ruled that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the Contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaraguan harbors. But, the U.S. blocked enforcement of the judgment, and prevented Nicaragua from actually receiving any monetary compensation.
Old statues of Somoza were destroyed. Today, the Nicaraguan people are organizing to help one another survive. The U.S. continues to intervene, but the Nicaraguans continue to push forward with their passion and devotion for sovereignty and autonomy.
It looks as if my simple account of the history of Nicaragua, as interpreted through this famous mural in Leon, has bored the poor Nicaraguan to death. So, with that, I close my turbulent account and end with a poem:
The voice that would reach you, Hunter, must speak
in Biblical tones, or in the poetry of Walt Whitman.
You are primitive and modern, simple and complex;
you are one part George Washington and one part Nimrod.
You are the United States,
future invader of our naïve America
with its Indian blood, an America
that still prays to Christ and still speaks Spanish.
You are strong, proud model of your race;
you are cultured and able; you oppose Tolstoy.
You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,
breaking horses and murdering tigers.
(You are a Professor of Energy,
as current lunatics say).
You think that life is a fire,
that progress is an irruption,
that the future is wherever
your bullet strikes.
The United States is grand and powerful.
Whenever it trembles, a profound shudder
runs down the enormous backbone of the Andes.
If it shouts, the sound is like the roar of a lion.
And Hugo said to Grant: ‘The stars are yours.’
(The dawning sun of the Argentine barely shines;
the star of Chile is rising..) A wealthy country,
joining the cult of Mammon to the cult of Hercules;
while Liberty, lighting the path
to easy conquest, raises her torch in New York.
But our own America, which has had poets
since the ancient times of Netzahualcoyotl;
which preserved the footprint of great Bacchus,
and learned the Panic alphabet once,
and consulted the stars; which also knew Atlantic
(whose name comes ringing down to us in Plato)
and has lived, since the earliest moments of its life,
in light, in fire, in fragrance, and in love–
the America of Moctezuma and Atahualpa,
the aromatic America of Columbus,
Catholic America, Spanish America,
the America where noble Cuauhtémoc said:
‘I am not in a bed of roses’–our America,
trembling with hurricanes, trembling with Love:
O men with Saxon eyes and barbarous souls,
our America lives. And dreams. And loves.
And it is the daughter of the Sun. Be careful.
Long live Spanish America!
A thousand cubs of the Spanish lion are roaming free.
Roosevelt, you must become, by God’s own will,
the deadly Rifleman and the dreadful Hunter
before you can clutch us in your iron claws.
And though you have everything, you are lacking one thing:
Someone asked me yesterday why I live in a third world country. She spat out the question like she had overdosed on bitter medicine and looked at me with disgust and fear. Puzzled by her reaction I asked, “What is your definition of a third world country?” “Oh, yuck!” she spat. “It’s a country filled with disease and poor people. Who in their right mind would live in a third world country?”
Since I am in the states visiting my mother, these comments occur more often. Either people fear for my life because of all the ‘diseases I could get’ or like my mother, question my sanity. My mother tells people I am a missionary in a third world country. “Mom, you have to stop telling people I’m a missionary,” I reprimand. “I’m not a missionary. I’m not even religious.” “But, you do so many good things for all those poor people,” she said. “You are a missionary in my eyes.” I sigh and nod my head. She introduces me to a friend of hers. “This is my daughter. She is…the word ‘like’ is barely audible… a missionary in Nicaragua.” I sigh again and nod my head.
I’m beginning to understand my mom’s logic. If she tells people I am a missionary, then they won’t look at me with fear and disgust because I live in a third world country. My mother solidifies her good reputation with God and her church friends because she raised a missionary daughter instead of an insane one. I can live comfortably in a third world country because I am ‘doing good things’ for all those pitiful poor people.
This conversation got me thinking about the definition of a third world country. Despite ever evolving definitions, most people envision a third world filled with suffering, dying, big bellied, crying, dirty, malnourished babies living with uneducated, extremely poor, emaciated, suffering, crying, dirty, and unemployed family members, who live in fear of a harsh, unbending dictator in a socialist or communist country with AK 47’s pointed in their faces. Often these visions are accompanied by lots of sobbing and pitiful cries with bony fingers extended, and a malformed or underdeveloped baby clinging to a mother’s dried up breast, begging for milk money.
Now, my definition of a third world country can be summed up in one phrase…a lack of a middle class. In Nicaragua, there are impoverished millions in a vast lower economic class and a very small élite or upper class who control the country’s wealth and resources. What makes the United States a first world country and Nicaragua a third world country? If we use my definition, there are striking similarities. Maybe it’s time to reconsider our definitions and differences among a first, second, and third world country. Maybe it’s time to cast away our stereotypical perceptions and visions of people living in a third world country. Maybe it’s time to dissolve our differences and concentrate on our similarities.
When I ask people to explain their definition of a third world country, often it is expressed in a ranking scheme of economic development with the first world on top ( a capitalist society), the second world, and the third world ( socialist or communist) on the bottom rung. This comparative economic and political ranking is utter nonsense, and in my opinion, the real source of misguided evil that has poisoned our world.
All forms of societies ( first, second, or third worlds) give us food, clothing, a home, language, and the tools of a trade. As members of a society, we all seek comfort in sharing our joys, sorrows, and pleasures with friends and family. We satisfy our personal desires, dreams, and accomplishments through gaining attention and recognition from our fellow human beings. We all want to improve the conditions of our lives. We should be ONE world because we all share the same basic needs and wants.
The definitions of the three types of worlds only increase the gap and divide us as human beings. Attempts to pigeon-hole us into narrowly defined economic and political categories create a war of worlds. Personally, I’m tired of people asking me if I’m a missionary because I live in their warped perception of a third world country. I’m tired of trying to convince people that I’m safe, secure, and happy in my decision to live in Nicaragua.
I’ll continue to sigh and nod my head when my mother introduces me as a missionary in Nicaragua. Her perceptions of the world were set a long time ago and there is nothing I can do to change her mind or change her viewpoints. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t plant seeds…little seeds of discontent with the crisis we are facing in the world today. One little seed, tenderly planted in the minds of the young…maybe we can become one world without war…compassionate world citizens. It’s a start.
Many people have asked me about the politics and government of Nicaragua. This article, written by Dan Kovalik, a human rights and labor lawyer from Pittsburgh, PA , explains it all. In my opinion, he speaks the truth.
Today is election day in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega is the projected winner. Of course, anyone living in Nicaragua for the past six months could have predicted this long ago. Instead of a political discourse ( I am certainly not a political analyst), and since my contest is over and we have a winner (see post below), I thought you might be interested in a few facts about the dung beetle, and a comparison of dung beetles to politicians. You may choose to read between the lines…or not.
Fact # 1: A dung beetle refers to all the species of beetles which are dependent on the feces of animals for their food and shelter. Not surprisingly, the species of politicians feed off the crap of their constituents, as well. They have a peculiar ability to eat the poo of their followers and regurgitate it into meaningless promises …and more poo. For their survival as a species depends on the crap received and redistributed within their habitats.
Fact # 2: There exist more than 7,000 species of dung beetles on the planet, which are found on all continents except for Antarctica. Politicians are found all over the world, too…except for Antarctica. Antarctica has no president or government. Apparently, this frozen continent is governed by seals and penguins. So, it would be very difficult to tell a dung beetle or a politician to eat sh** on Antarctica. Very little poo is found there.
Fact # 3: Dung beetles have an important role in mythology. The Egyptian scarab beetle was considered sacred. The ancient Egyptians believed that it was a giant dung beetle that kept the world revolving, as these beetles revolve dung balls today. Some tribes in South America believe that the first human was carved from a dung ball. As with politicians, the sh** hits the fan as it continuously rolls from one government office to another…gaining momentum…growing larger and more powerful…until it is so enormous and so powerful…it is unstoppable. It becomes a bureaucratic nightmare filled with a stench that spreads its greedy, rolling poo throughout the world. It makes me wonder if the first human carved from a dung ball was a politician.
Fact # 4: Even though it may sound repelling to eat feces, dung beetles are very helpful little insects. They disperse seeds, clean up animal poo, and recycle nutrients back into the soil. Politicians can be very helpful, too. So, the next time you see your local politicians, tell them to “eat sh**.” It may be the best compliment they have ever received. :-)
Thank you, dear readers, for participating in my contest. We actually have two winners: Sandy and Tamara. They both guessed a dung beetle ball, only 3 minutes apart. Your seed dolphin prize should be in the mail, soon.
I have never been one to jump off the edge recklessly. Heights scare me. Fear was a soldier I never wanted to defeat. But, there came a time in my life when I had to make friends with my fears, suck-it-up, and jump! For I learned that life began when I broke out of my comfort zone. Nicaragua has a magnetic quality that forced me out of my mundane life, attracted me to the vivacious people, and seduced me with its quirkiness. That’s why we returned to Nicaragua. I may be soaring with a broken wing, but, isn’t that what life is all about?
~ Come to the Edge ~
Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
He pushed them and they flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire (French Poet)
This Is Nicaragua
January 12, 2005 * Important, note the date!
Since Bill’s death, Ron and I have been questioning our purpose here. We sold a house, quit secure jobs, gave away winter clothes, and donated 20 years of school supplies in order to find ourselves. Bill said, “Leave Gringolandia before it’s too late” and “Once you get used to the litter, you’re going to love Nicaragua.” “It’s the land of opportunity.” We tried to fit into his world. We nodded politely at all of his wild conspiracy theories , we catered to spoiled backpackers, we chatted with all of the gringo baby boomers immigrating to Nicaragua on a pension, and we listened, watched, and waited. I guess we were as much as an enigma to Bill as he was to us. He could not understand that we didn’t leave Gringolandia for political reasons, that we didn’t want to become residents of a country we knew little about, and that we couldn’t conceive litter as something beautiful.
Bill loved the country. We love the people. There is a huge difference between the two. I wish I could separate the government from the people, for if I could do it successfully, I would live here permanently. However, Nicaragua is a politically corrupt, abusive, repressive, and impoverished country. I can’t tolerate the greed and uncompassionate power of those in control and it’s only getting worse. While the Sandinistas are plotting to restructure the constitution and increase the executive power of their President, Amente, my neighbor, was plotting, too. She came to our house today with pretenses of picking up the hedge clippers she lent us, but she really came because she was alone and frightened. She was shaking, pale, and vomiting. I told her I would walk with her to her mother’s house, but she was too weak to walk. Her mother doesn’t have a telephone, or a car, just like the majority of people in Nicaragua. She was afraid to go to the hospital because she didn’t have any money.. like all Nicaraguans. So, Ron took Julio on our bicycle to find Amente’s mother. Her mother arrived on a horse and I assumed that Amente went to the hospital, but, then again, she might have just taken her home. I’m worried about her because she was so sick. I hope she went to the hospital, but…. this is Nicaragua. Keep reading…