Nicaragua's elections today
After all my coverage of America's election, writing something on Nicaragua's election today would be appropriate...
I'd write something about it, if I understood it, but I don't. Where I spend most of my time - San Juan Del Sur - is very much a tourist town, half its bars and restaurants run by Canadians, Italians, and Swedes... and a very few Americans, the other half locals, and the pulperias, mechanical, and plumbing shops run by locals almost exclusively. I don't think it is representative of the rest of Nicaragua, or perhaps it is: despite - or because of - the foreign business class - the town has voted Sandinista (FSLN) for 27 years, straight.
Understanding this place may take a lifetime, or more. I desperately need to speak spanish better, and get out more. Sorting out just the current political parties would take more paragraphs than I care to expend today.
I have snippets and impressions... like...
The election is held on a Sunday. Selling or serving alcohol is banned the day prior and the day of - last night was the most sober and empty I've ever seen San Juan Del Sur... yet I saw a storekeeper slip a favored customer a beer, with a mutually conspiratorial grin... and outside my window this morning, a good hundred+ gathered to vote before dawn...
A happy, drunken crowd had gathered near the beach. I was walking my guitar home, and they welcomed me into their group. One poured me a drink of 7 year Flor de Cana from their cooler, and another asked if I knew anything about Sandino. I waved off the question, saying in my bad spanish "tengo no entiendo de politicos", and he didn't persist. They applauded politely for my song, then I passed my guitar off to a local musician who leaned up against a car and started to play. One of the members of the group kept pushing his cell phone with a recording of someone screaming "Sandino" against his ear, until he shrugged it away so he could concentrate on his singing... a few more musicians showed up, and we sat, perched between two cars and the beach, for hours, and passed the bottle and guitars around.
Despite having read dozens of books on this place, I'm no better off than I was when I started. On my bookshelf are "Why Nicaragua Vanished", "Coffee and Power", "Where is Nicaragua", "Nicaragua - Revolution in the Family", "At War in Nicaragua", and "The Sandinista Revolution", and I've misplaced or loaned out Chamorro's biography as well as Somosa's, as well as a book of translated speeches from 1983...
There is very little written about Nicaragua since the end of the war, aside from real estate blurbs. This is a shame, because I find peace far more interesting than war. It's partially why I'm here... Somehow, Nicaragua achieved peace after that bitter war, and is groping towards prosperity now. What lessons were learnt in that time would be good to apply to places like Iraq and the Balkans.
I struggle, still, in trying to figure out how to explain what I do not understand. The FSLN is running a former member of the National Guard (and Contra), a famous boxer named Alexis Arguello
, as their candidate for Mayor of Managua. The ALN/PLC is running Eduardo Montealegre
, a Brown and Harvard educated economist. How either of these choices makes sense is beyond me
, the closest analogy I could make would be as if Arnold Schwarzenegger was running against Joe Lieberman in the US.
One Nicaraguan wrote me:
No se tengo familia liberal, y tengo familia Sandinista. pero no se todavia por quien votar. Montealegre en un tiempo atras robo mucho dinero, dinero que era para los pobres el los robo y sobre el boxeador no se porque es primera vez que se esta tirando para alcalde. No se mucho de eso, pero montealegre desde ase 4 anos quiere ganar y no ha podido ganar, primero para presidente de Nicaragua y no gano ahora para alcalde de managua y no se si ira a ganar. La verdad es que esos politicos mierda, solamente quieren dinero para ellos ellos quieren ganar no para ayudar a los pobres si no para aserse ellos mas ricos y mas poderosos.
I'll write more later.
Labels: election 2008, nicaragua