In the upcoming municipal elections, and in any future elections, it is important to point out that the average Nicaraguan is not interested in voting; it’s the last thing on his or her mind. The right to exercise the vote is not an everyday concern of most Nicaraguans. Most people are only concerned with daily survival.
The majority of our people, according to the statistical studies by the UNPD, are unemployed or underemployed. The poorest citizens, according to these statistics, are surviving on less than $1 per day. The great majority of Nicaraguans who live on such a meager and inhumane budget are also trying to maintain a family of four or more people. Naturally, with that amount of money, it’s not possible to have a dignified household, a decent wardrobe, or food three times a day, not to mention elementary needs such as access to education and good health care.
If we analyze the power strategy of the government, we’ll realize that this situation of hunger and unemployment is created in an evil and intentional manner to avoid at all costs the rise of new leadership that would create a counterweight to the government. This strategy has as an objective: The continuance of power for the administration, based on the poverty of others. Evidence of this can been seen in the mediocrity of our primary and secondary schools, as well as in the quality of our higher education throughout the country.
This type of unhealthy and perverted government makes a lot of sense for the administration, because people who have free time and relative economic stability are more likely to analyze the country’s political situation and work to change it.
We must understand that the main secret of a totalitarian government, whether on the left or right, consists in weakening the public spirit to the point where people lose complete interest in the ideas and principles that have made, and can make, revolutions. This results in the weakening and stultification of society, it curbs people’s interest in education and culture, and distracts citizens with spectacles, vices, and mass media.
In Nicaragua, no one needs to burn entire libraries to deter education, as they did in Argentina. Here the lack of interest in reading and knowledge makes such actions unnecessary. This strengthens the vicious circle of the entry of one dictator, and the exit of another.
The lack of interest in the accumulation and diffusion of knowledge makes us, as a people, easy to manipulate, because we don’t know anything other than what they give us or what we’re told. Therefore, the people’s consciences and wills become easily manageable with handouts, because we’re not used to questioning the “why” of things.
As Nicaraguans, we’re a people who demand democracy but don’t worry about what it consists of, let alone what it’s for. We demand our rights but don’t even bother knowing what they are. We must understand that this indifference towards knowledge weakens our character as a people and subtracts independence of thought.
Since we’re not interested in knowing our rights, or understanding why we have them or what they’re for, we’re also not much interested in voting. In the end, what the great majority of Nicaraguans think is, “Since the government doesn’t feed me, then, why should I vote?”
With this mentality, we think that if the president builds a school for us, or paves a street near our house, we should be thankful (because Nicaraguans are thankful). We never consider that this is the duty of the government, and the reason why we pay taxes.
It’s because of this reality that I dare to state that Nicaragua, at this pace, will never prosper. The youth are not the future and the salvation of this country will slip further away all the time. We are part of an indifferent generation that becomes more stupefied every day. The youth prefers to give in to the triviality of empty entertainment, rather than read a book.
We’re sinking deeper every day into a hole that we’ll never be able to get out of unless we wake up and end this vicious circle that gets passed from generation to generation.
Cristiana Guevara-Mena is a lawyer and young blogger living in Managua. A version of this article ran on the author’s blog, Ensayos Politicos, a bilingual blog on national politics and youth issues.