Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 340 | Noviembre 2009




Envío team

On November 4, Hurricane Ida hit the tourist centers of Corn Island and Little Corn Island with 75 mph winds, destroying homes, schools and churches, damaging power lines and the drinking water supply, smashing boats and toppling trees. The category 1 hurricane then made landfall at the fishing village of Sandy Bay Sirpe, roughly in the middle of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coastline, about 75 miles north of Bluefields, destroying 80% of its houses. The intense rains, said to be more abundant than those dumped by Hurricane Felix in September 2007, also caused serious damage in the other communities at the mouth of the Río Grande de Matagalpa, and as far south as Pearl Lagoon and Kukra Hill.

Before leaving Nicaragua two days later, the slow-moving hurricane, reduced to a tropical storm, had affected the whole length of the country’s Caribbean coast to a greater or lesser degree. Dropping some 20 inches of rain before crossing into Honduras on November 6, Ida didn’t spare Bilwi, the mining town of Rosita or Waspam, capital of the Río Coco communities, which were all still feeling the effects of Felix. Official Nicaraguan figures estimated 13,000 left at least temporarily homeless in the south Caribbean region and 29,000 in the north. There were no reported deaths in Nicaragua, in stark contrast to El Salvador, where a “disturbed weather area” off the Pacific coast said not to be connected to Ida caused an estimated 130 deaths as of November 9 due to flooding and landslides.

In his speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in late October, US Ambassador Robert Callahan didn’t just talk about the Supreme Court bench’s ruling in favor of Ortega. He also offered other reflections, such as this one on the relationship between culture and development:

“…Experts in development, drawing on anthropological studies, divide societies into ‘Cultures of Progress’ and ‘Cultures of Survival.’ According to them, people who live in cultures of survival often see society as static. They dwell on the past, blame others for their failures, refuse to compromise, and believe that another’s gain is their loss. They have little social conscience and little regard for the general welfare. This thinking tends to produce unresponsive governments and suspicious and pessimistic people.

To the contrary, people in cultures of progress look optimistically to the future. They see society as dynamic, ever changing. They are self-confident and self-critical, admitting their errors and then trying to correct them. They will compromise for the common good and believe that by sharing fairly in the country’s bounty, they too will profit. They put a great emphasis on education and community and respect the views and opinions of others, even if they disagree with them.

Every society of course has elements of both these cultures. But in successful countries, the culture of progress predominates. In countries that consistently fail to provide their citizens with their material requirements and political freedoms, those who cling to the idea of a static society, to a culture of survival, have more influence. This explanation may be too facile. It may reflect the biases of authors from wealthy countries. It may just be plain wrong. But I do think it posits some interesting hypotheses and gives us something to contemplate.”

On November 9, a year after the electoral fraud gave the governing party at least 40 of the 105 mayoral seats it currently occupies, a number of activities were held in different parts of the country to recall and repudiate it. People were invited to wear black as a sign of mourning, which was barely noted, although Archbishop of Managua Leopoldo Brenes did refer to it as a day of national mourning.

Eduardo Montealegre, who was robbed of being the mayor of Managua in the most overt example of the fraud (the count of some 30% of the voting tables was never even published), took over a traffic circle in Managua with a group of sympathizers. When he was attacked with rocks and mortars by government supporters he responded in kind. At another point in the capital city, FSLN activists rained rocks on a group of youths wearing black. The group took refuge in the National Police installations, but the rocks kept flying, destroying the main door. As is customary in such skirmishes between the FSLN and unarmed protestors, the police made no arrests. The headquarters of the Civil Coordinator was besieged all day long and the La Prensa building was stoned, not just for being the rightwing opposition newspaper but also because that day it published the “Black Book,” documenting in detail how the fraud was organized. There was also violence in León and Masaya.

Print text   

Send text

<< Previous   Next >>


Riding the Wind with the Sails Full


An SOS for Climate Change: What Will We Young People Do?

The Caribbean Coast: Independence or Desperation?

El Salvador
“We’re Against Impunity, Against Forgetting”

El Salvador
“Our Party Won the Elections, But It’s Not the Government”

América Latina
A Passenger’s Version of Latin America’s Future

América Latina
The Codes of Latin American Culture

Agreements, Traps and Resistance beyond Zelaya
Envío a monthly magazine of analysis on Central America
GüeGüe: Web Hosting and Development