We’re almost at our project now!
We’ve left St. Vincent Tuesday evening, taking the last plane to Barbados. There, we’ve slept in the – very well-maintained – airport, which offers, among others, free water fountains with a meter displaying how many plastic bottles were avoided thanks to it (at that point it was over 18,000!). One (climate compliance) point for Barbados! Early in the morning we took our flight, via Miami, to Managua, Nicaragua. Arriving at this huge city (with etimated population over 2 million) made for quite a shock after living for six months in 100,000 people – St. Vincent! Since we got there late, we’ve decided to stay 2 nights.
Managua is an interesting city, with a huge area. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere by foot – if it’s not too far then for sure it’s too dangerous. Thankfully, the transport is not terribly expensive.
Managua has been Nicaragua’s capital city since 1857. It has seen some bad disasters, including floodings, earthquakes and fires. The infamous earthquake of 1972, has destroyed 90% of the city and killed almost 20,000 people. That catastrophe has changed the landscape of the city which was never truly rebuilt. The Somoza regime’s corruption caused most of the international aid relief to get into private hands. The disaster and corruption of the politicians who were supposed to take care of the people, have led to the increasing popularity of the leftist Sandinista movement, led by Carlos Fonseca. Founded in 1961, the Sandinista National Liberation Front has started to become more and more populat in the 70’s. In 1979 the Sandinista’s finally overthrew the last in the Somoza dynasty and started to govern the country. The US government has at first supported the new powers, but soon, due to other political games in the region, president Reagan’s administration switched sides and started to support various rebel groups, known under the common name of contras. The rebels, trained and armed by CIA, were known for their brutality and numerous violations of civil rights. The elections of 1984 were won by Sandinistas again, but in 1990 the Sandinistas lost against an anti-Sandinista coalition. The international comentators attribute it to the fact that Nicaraguans were tired of constant wars, which the US has threatened to continue to support had the Sandinistas won. The new president came to power only to find the economy destryed by the continuos contra wars.
In 1991 the international Court of Justice ruled that “the United States of America was under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by certain breaches of obligations under customary international law and treaty-law committed by the United States of America”. It’s estimated that over 30,000 people died due to the contras actions.
Since 2006, the Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega is the president and recently the constitution has been changed to allow him for second re-election. Since the 90’s the subsequent governments have been trying to rebuild the capital city (possibly with the exception of anti-Sandinista president Arnoldo Alemán, sentenced for money embezzlement). While there is no clearly touristic area, some parts are more traveller-friendly than others. The Revolution Square (Sp. Plaza de la Revolución) hosts many historical buildings, with the Old Cathedral (Catedral de Santiago) bearing the proofs of Nicaragua’s turbulent history: shipped from Belgium in 1920, it was damaged by the earthquakes of 1931 and 1972, while the tower clock was destroyed during the contras wars in the 80’s. Today, it stands, fenced off from the curious eyes, silent memoir of the 20th century. The Central Park with many historical monuments, National Palace of Culture, Rubén Dario National Theater and Statue of Sandino are all located nearby, making it the ideal tourist venue. Numerous socialist monuments, murals and national flags can be found all over the colorful city, while old American school buses, painted in all possible colours, drive through the streets.
All in all, we’ve had a nice time there, before going to sleep in order to catch our 5:30 a.m. bus to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Anna and Alessia.
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