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The other day in class I had a real hankering for macaroni and cheese. Sergio had no idea what macaroni and cheese was so my heart almost stopped. At that moment, we both decided it was necessary to walk to el super mercado to go see if it even existed in Nicaragua (thank goodness it does)

On our way down the streets, posters, signs and billboards with friendly photos of President Daniel Ortega caught my eye and I decided to break the ice and ask about the Nicaraguan political history. I was ASTONISHED by the corruption laced throughout:

Dates

1926-1933



1934-1979

1972


1973


1979-1989



1979-1984



1985-1989



1990-1997




1997-2003




2003-2007

2007









2010

info

Current President Sandino Riviera tells off U.S. Marines who tried to build a canal through the country. Due to mountainous terrain, mission would have been impossible anyways. Remember the name Sandino.

Samoza family ruled

Giant earthquake puts Nicaragua in shambles. Major monuments destroyed, thousands of victims and major international aid needed.

Carlos Fonseca founded the FSLN (Frente Sandinista Liberation national) (Remember the name Sandino? ..Sandinista) 

Nicaraguan revolution occurred and Sandinistas took power
-During the time of the revolution Sergio has memories as a five year old wanting to join the army, which was legal at 13 years old

No president in power this time, but 12 young Sandinistas from the revolution
-Sergio remembers people running up and down the streets shouting the names of the rulers

Daniel Ortega becomes president and rules in corruption. 
-He abolished "La Presna" which was and still is the leading newspaper in the country because he was afraid of bad press that would make him lose the 1990 elections. 

Violeta Barrior de Chammoro wins the election
-Brought peace
-Told contras (counter Sandinistas) to put down their weapons
-Changed the constitution to limit terms to two consecutive terms.

Arnoldo Alemán becomes president
-After devastating hurricane, America sent down aid to rebuild 15,000 houses. Arnold stole the money for himself and built his own personal homes. The Vice President Enrique Bolános told him he would become president and put him in jail... he did.

Enrique Bolános becomes president

Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista party is re-elected as president after running in every election for 17 years when he lost power in 1990. He did this by apologizing to the Nicaraguans and saying sorry for what he had done in the past. This was the start to the age of the "Ortegista" era.

-During the Sandinista era, their flag was black and red and stood for: "Fight till the death." After winning this election, he changed changed his colors so that he would be recognized by pink, light blue, yellow and green- just like the posters I see hanging everywhere around the country.

Changed the constitution so that he is allowed more continuous terms than the two that were stated in the constitution. In 2010, he won his second term in office but rigged the counting process by forcing government officials to vote for him, paying off the election ballot counters and claimed 73% of the vote. 

Most Nicaraguans do not fear today but worry for the future because they know that the ONLY way to stop power hungry Ortega is by way of another revolution. He personally owns major grocery store chains, two major television stations, all gas stations and giant businesses throughout the country. 

If an individual supports Ortega, they will pay less taxes and be given less trouble by cops. I have seen multiple cars sporting brightly colored pink and blue Ortega bumper stickers, probably for the sole purpose of avoiding the cops. Businesses that support Ortega receive a dramatic
tax cut and other benefits. A hostel I was in last weekend in Playa Gigante went as far as pinning a red and black Sandinista flag on their wall.

Sergio went on to tell me about how the public school system works. Teachers are paid a normal wage but receive giant bonuses that amount to more money than he makes in a month. The teachers are basically on strike because they think they deserve more although the reality of public school is that students spend two hours of recess in the building until they go home. Even though it is free to go, families prefer to send their kids to private school education if they can afford it. 

My host mother Gloria, my teacher Sergio as well as the majority of other Nicaraguans all know that Ortega is "playing dumb." They know he is trying to follow in the steps of Fidel Castro. They know that he is blatantly hoarding money to himself when 50% of the country suffers from poverty. 

Poverty might not be as prevalent and visible in the cities of Nicaragua but on bus rides through the country, it is obviously a problem. It is impossible for Ortega to drive down these roads and not notice the barefoot children caring their infant siblings down the busy roads, or the one room, full family metal shacks that find what little shade their might be underneath the hanging palm. 

A common phrase I've heard used among Americans who spend time here is, "It's Nicaragua, anything could happen." Laws and rules are hard to come by, and when they do, it's purpose is probably to benefit Ortega before it helps anyone else. 

 


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    Kelsey

    Novice spanish translator, adventurer, student, passionate life lover

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