The Eskimo ice cream vendors, car-watchers, windshield-washers, and the underemployed people who work informally on the streets of Managua, are they all part of the administration’s Christian, socialist and solidarity government project?
I ask myself this because it is something I see every day. It has been five years since the FSLN won the national elections, and I continue to observe many people precariously eking out a life for themselves on the streets of the capital city.
Is this what they call “21st century socialism?” If so, what’s the difference between this and the so-called sixteen years of neoliberal administrations that this revolutionary government criticizes so much? Can you spot six differences? I can’t find one.
In my view, this urban landscape (where misery prevails) does not seem to be Christian, socialist, or in solidarity. It is a landscape that contrasts more and more with the number of billboards alluding to the victories obtained by a government that lifts up the poor from the floor of poverty only to let them fall back on the asphalt of the very same poverty. The government pats the poor on their heads, offers them Band-Aids for their wounds, yet it does not cure them of their ailments because it is more convenient to keep them sick.
This urban landscape (where, I insist, misery prevails) does not seem to be the one that most Nicaraguans voted for either; but it’s a bewildered Nicaragua due to the fraud which cornered the opposition’s vote by more than 60%. I continue to wonder: What need was there for the official party to steal the elections if they, supposedly, had most of the population’s vote guaranteed? I believe they were afraid. Deep inside, that’s the only explanation.
All of this gets even worse if we add some data that corroborate the institutional mediocrity of the state powers managed by the FSLN. According to a report recently published by the German organization Transparency International (TI), Nicaragua is perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the region. It got a rating of 2.5 on scale of 10, where 0 is the most corrupt and 10 is the least.
The only countries that finished below us on the corruption perception index, according to this study, are Paraguay (2,2) and Venezuela (1,9). Yes, Venezuela, the one country that injects the largest amount of money into Nicaragua and the one that most influences the country’s public policies. In other words, apart from the fact that the Venezuelan money is used in a dirty manner to do personal business for well-known members of the Sandinista leadership, this money comes infested with corruption from the country lost in “the dreams of Bolivar.” But there’s more.
This data, published soon after the rigged elections of Nov. 6, 2011, is even more alarming if we also add other figures provided by the 2011 Human Development Report, published by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The document establishes that one-third of Nicaraguan teenagers are lagging more than three grades behind in comparison to the expected schooling level for youth their age, while two-thirds of young people between 25 and 29 (I am in this range) have not yet completed high school (p. 79). Simply put, this is the end result of the same corruption.
The report found that the proportion of teenagers and young people who work in the informal sector of the economy is as high as 66%, while underemployment rates among youth are 25%. These are not just cold statistics; they are realities. And more than realities, they are pending subject matters for a government that promises Heaven and Earth to their young people, without showing much real improvement in their education and without offering transparency in public funding.
After analyzing these figures and their corresponding gloomy statistical conclusions, the only thing we can do is continue to use peaceful forms of resistance so that the corrupt people of Nicaragua stop obscuring the future of the new generations who watch, with eyes open in astonishment, how the Museum of Sandino crumbles in the abandonment of his legacy.
William Grigsby Vergara was Born in Managua in 1985. In 2005, he won Honorable Mention in the Ernesto Cardenal International Contest for Young Poets, and in 2010 he was selected by the Nicaraguan Center for Writers to have his poetry collection, Canciones para Stephanie, published by a Norwegian fund. Grigsby is a painter, graphic designer and collaborator for the magazine Envío, published by the University of Central America (UCA).