Managua, Nicaragua – The End – But Never The End

Staff and volunteers at El Porvenir office
Staff and volunteers at El Porvenir office

We spent our last days back in Managua getting a tour of the main office of El Porvenir, meeting the dedicated staff, getting a taxi tour of the central market, and the highly guarded, decorated and chain-linked waterfront. We climbed the semi-active Volcan Masaya, and ended the experience being taken to dinner by Rob Bell, the director of the El Porvenir office.

Central Market Managua
Central Market Managua
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront

Taking our last evening walk, we were urged to be in before dark, not to wear jewelry, cameras or purses, and to watch our backs. Graffiti covered every space, but only Sandanista graffiti. The major area of employment could be security guards from the numbers of men we saw in uniforms with big guns, behind chain-link fences. In front of the baseball stadium stood a huge statue of the Sandanista hero Gen. Augusto Sandino. Across the street was a retrospective of the Sandanista Party behind the ubiquitous chain-link fence. Since we were protected by the gun-carrying guard, I took out my camera to record this history and Bob. While he was flashing a few of me with poet Ruben Dario and Gen Augusto Sandino, a guard came up to him from behind, sticking two fingers into his neck. Bob, startled, turned, ready to fight. “What’re you doing?”

“You wanna keep your camera? And your life? Then put that away before you leave this exhibit.” (In Spanish)

“Por Supuesto!” Bob agreed quickly. “Muchisimas gracias!” we thanked him for the warning and safely returned to the hotel, watching our backs.

The Sandanista retrospective was an impressive mix of history, poetry, sculpture and graffiti recording a fight for freedom through the years. But what has happened? Crime is rampant. So many people in the country live without water and toilets. The socialist ideal of a “system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness” has deteriorated to the point of the second-time president  Daniel Ortega, owning one of the largest hotels (The Seminole Hotel) and casinos in town. A socialist turned capitalist? That money certainly isn’t going to the people that need it most.

Graffiti in Managua
Graffiti in Managua

Well, life is never fair, but let’s keep fighting to make it so. To end on a positive note, thanks to Water for People; and the non-profit, El Porvenir, on it’s 20th anniversary, should be tremendously honored for having completed 600 projects and helped over 70,000 people in Nicaragua. Both non-profits have pages on Facebook. Become a fan and get involved.

Dario, Jill, Sandino
Dario, Jill, Sandino

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Jill Green

I’m a lazy writer trying to get tech savvy. I’ve blurted into blogging to get some of my thoughts, cravings, interests, writings out into the web world. I live in Costa Rica and Florida. Most of my somewhat autobiographical writings are about those places. If you’re interested check in.

One thought on “Managua, Nicaragua – The End – But Never The End”

  1. Your “El Porvenir, Water for People” blog tells the tale. I agree with everything you said. But we werent always together so I want to add to your comments about the Sandinista government . At the orientation meeting in Dario were two representatives of the government. One was a minister from Managua and one was a young man from the local, El Sauce, municipalidad. The minister was a good guy, open to answering questions but what I remember most about him was that in a day of longwinded orations he was brief keeping his speech to informing us about goverment standards for quantity of water that each person or community needs for minimum daily use. Also he said that the goverment was one of our partners and they were funding 10% of our project. The young man, Miguel, was a planning director in El Sauce, a Sandinista town. As you said, we were often divided into teams, the guys getting the plum jobs of hiking up the mountain to see the water systems while the gals made the house, school and clinic interviews. So I got to know Miguel in the field. He was an idealistic man and I could see that he enjoyed helping the people we visited. I dont remember that he commented on the run down state of the clinics and schools you surveyed. But once while we were riding in the back of the truck near El Sauce I saw a truckload of building materials being unloaded at a school. Roofing, pvc pipes, lumber. I asked him if the schools were being remodeled and he said yes, it was one of his projects. The last time I saw him, having dinner at Dona Mercedes kitchen, I wished him success in his career and hoped he would someday become mayor of El Sauce. One last comment, in the blog you said that Daniel Ortega had interests in Hotel Seminole and in casinos. I remember about the hotel and maybe it had a casino but I didnt hear he was a casino owner. But I do remember hearing that Pres Ortega had a substantial personal interest in the national electricity grid. I love your blog and thanks for including me. Bob

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