Nicaragua's election aftermath
Listening to rumors and hearsay, I hear all sorts of things... but Time, however, posted the most inflammatory piece
, lacking almost entirely in substantive detail, but containing gems like:
"This week, the streets of Managua were once again aflame amid the boom of mortar rounds, as the Sandinistas and their rivals battled for control..."
Um, I haven't heard that
from any local I know. I think the journalist is mistaking the common practice of lighting off large firecrackers ("bombas") for mortar rounds. You hear bombas all the time, day or night, anywhere you go in Nicaragua, on even the most trivial occasion. After a week or two you stop jumping under your desk for safety. Yes
, there are problems. Other news organizations, such as the Latin American Herald Tribune, have posted that At least two people were killed and several other injured in clashes Monday
. Accusations of vote-buying and a miscount are rampant, and the losing party (PLC) is demanding a recount with international observers. Since the entire election process lacked international observers, and had two parties banned from taking part, somehow I doubt this will happen...Update
: The comment section of this economist article
has a pointer to Citizen's Crusade Watch's accounts of the vote totals in Managua
, which show some rather major discrepancies.
For my part, as an accidental international observer, the voting process in San Juan Del Sur seemed orderly and peaceful. It was a foregone conclusion that SJDS would go FSLN - it has for 27 years, after all. One image from the day sticks with me: As a victory parade stalled out in front of my house, one truck containing at least thirty men, women and children stopped, and one of those walking reached up to hand the driver a beer.
My amigos and amigas in Managua have told me that it IS tense there, that the police are doing nothing, and gangs of supporters of all factions are messing up the place.
One conversation (with a native Managuan) went like this:
S: Are you happy with your new president?
Dave: Um, er, not really. I hate the existing president with a passion I can barely express.
Dave: Problem is, all the power that Bush gathered to himself is going to Obama next and I'd prefer that all that power... dissipate... vanish... so that no president ever again, has that much power. Obama is going to try to use his power for "good" and absolute power corrupts absolutely. U happy with your new Boxer mayor?
S: Not at all. To be honest, i didnt like McCain nor Obama. I think they are 2 extreme persons. One is too liberal. The other is too conservative when it comes to helping people from another race. But I do share McCain's values - I'm pro-life - and I can be a little conservative when it comes to values. I'm totally against war, though.
Dave: Yea, someone having a consistent pro-life position would be nice - no abortion, no war.
S: Yep. So those 2 guys are the extreme position.
Dave: Hmm. I regarded McCain as middle of the road... for the current crop of Republicans. I was going to vote for him until he selected Palin.
S: That too.
Dave: Ah, well, she was good for a laugh.
S: haha. managua is crazy today. Sandinistas are fighting against liberales.
Dave: I heard there was violence, is it still going on?
S: Horrible. Yes.
Dave: Well, I heard there was a lot of allegations of fraud - property for a vote, money for a vote, food for a vote - but I took that as "normal" for Nicaragua... not enough to account for a 51% vs 45% vote difference.
S: Yes i think it was like that. I think authorities are acting in a very irresponsible way
Dave: How so? In America, there are now "free speech zones" - one of the many reasons why I left, for here. Here strikes me as saner than America... or did, until a few days ago. You don't need a permit for a parade.
Dave: How are the authorities acting irresponsibly? rubber bullets? gas?
S: They should stop people from acting the way they are acting. The police are not doing anything and the president doesn't care. I don't care what party is causing what... that's not the proper way to protest.
Dave: How can they manage better? Persuasion? Passing out good dope?
S: Increasing violence, killing people... each party should talk with its people and tell them to calm down. they haven't done that.
Dave: Police are killing people?
S: No, Sandinistas and Liberales are killing each other. Police are not doing anything. It is just sad.
Dave: Well, mass insurrection does not seem to be be happening (yet). People kill one another all the time - over relationships, over politics, over money or stuff... it's a fact of life.
S: I know, but Nicaragua is not ready for more wars. We have gone through a lot.
Dave: I'm essentially conservative (in the old fashioned, 1950s, American sense) that in case of doubt, the government should do nothing. I came here because I wanted to understand peace. No lessons to be had in Iraq, or the Balkans, or many other places in the world. Somehow, post-Chammorro, Nicaragua has retained a strong semblance of peace. It's amazing. I'd hate to see it go to hell.
S: I know. We need people who love Nicaragua with passion, people with good values and morality and people ready to make a change in this country without violence, using values,and discipline and morality as the weapon. That's what I think.
Dave: So get out there and BE peaceful!
S: We need a new face. People are getting tired of Ortega and Arnoldo.
Dave: Not enough tired, this time.
S: We'll see.
Outside my window, children play. Four came up, this morning, to ask for water. We talked - or rather, they talked while I tried to translate what they said - the most voluble among them was growing in a new set of front teeth, which made that doubly difficult - about baseball, television, and games.
Kid stuff, nothing important.
I wish politics wasn't important.
Labels: election 2008, nicaragua
How many congresscritters got re-elected?
I'd really like to know how many congresscritters got re-elected this time around. Last I'd heard Congress's approval rating was in the 20% range, which in a just world, would have led to some significant turnover.
Despite extensive googling, I haven't found anyone that totaled up the results of this past election... I did find thirty-thousand.org, which has an interesting perspective
, but isn't keeping up to date.
America really seemed to make a sea-change around 1910-13 - not only enacting a central bank, and the income tax, and screwing up copyright, but freezing representation at 435 representatives at the national level....
Still, some news agency, somewhere, must have totaled up the number re-elected??
Labels: congresscritters, election 2008
China makes a withdrawal
China is injecting 1/6th of it's total GDP into its own economy, some 600B dollars
: Other sources indicated later that the amount was closer to 10% of annual GDP, over 2 years - or a 5% stimulus.
Where's that money going to come from? I doubt they will print it.... About 3 years ago, China held reserves in the US of some 800+ Billion dollars... and the Federal reserve said that that wasn't a problem
... oh? Today, China's holdings have ballooned to 1.9 trillion dollars in US reserves
... No, China doesn't need to print any money, just make a few very large withdrawals... It must be great to be a creditor nation!
In other news, DHL is closing up shop in the US
. As they are my sole source of packages where I live, I worry that I will soon be entirely disconnected from my mail... which is not entirely a bad thing. Might make it kind of hard to pay taxes.Circuit City goes belly up
- also a shame, as their merely horrible customer service was a step up from Walmart's abysmal. I sure wish more people would focus on quality rather than price... and Circuit City and Walmart actually sold more products that were made in the US...
On the plus side, I just got internet installed in 2 days, with a rock steady 1Mbit connection that can pull in Canadian hockey... not much of a plus, I'll admit. I did catch an Eagles game, last night, same method - they lost.
And Nicaragua is now ranked the second safest country in the Western Hemisphere
, after Canada.
The size of the national bailouts, the nationalizations of the banks and insurance companies, the pending "investments" into the big car makers - all mask the biggest increases in government power in my lifetime. Corporate power will be in (relevant) decline - and the power of ordinary people... well, who knows what power they will hold
in the future?
pulls together Sequoia Capital's viewpoint on the near future. It isn't pretty.
I've never really had a word for what happens when the buttons and knobs behind Keynesian spending policies finally stop working, now I do: Debt overhang
, a condition where adding new debt does nothing, or worse....Shipping is at a standstill
. At current rates, anybody (anyone?) out there with sufficient capital could make a killing sending ships full of stuff people need where they usually don't go...
The American National Debt has increased by 639 billion dollars in 42 days. It's now at:
Sure wish someone would get around to answering my top 10 questions
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