Nicaragua is the most beautiful country in the world. Yes, I’m Nicaraguan, so I am biased. That being said, Nicaragua is not a poor country; it’s an impoverished country. This is one of the first things tourists notice when they visit here. They notice all the opportunities around and can’t understand why Nicaragua is so poor.
Recently, Nicaragua has been popping up in news articles and magazines as one of the best countries for senior citizens to retire. This is a very lucrative market and I naturally agree that Nicaragua is a great place to move. However, some Nicaraguans institution have recently made it a living hell for many senior citizens trying to move here.
Here we go…
One of the many traits and benefits that Retired Foreign Senior Citizens (RFSC) bring to our country is not only entrepreneurship (starting a small business that employs locals) but also fresh dollars that will be spent in the local market.
If these foreign senior citizens have one thing in common, it’s that when they move to Nicaragua they will need to bring packages from home. Whether it’s a laptop that they don’t sell in the local market or medicine they need to survive. Recently, the government has made imports very difficult for everyone.
In the past week I’ve seen more than five cases where Customs (Aduanas) and the Ministry of Health (MINSA) have made it more difficult for elderly foreigners to receive their medication. Approximately two weeks ago, the ministry of health started requiring that all medications exempt from taxes have a prescription from a local doctor, even if the medicine already comes with a prescription from a foreign health-care provider. In addition, the medication must now be accompanied with a description of what the product is and the a letter for MINSA explaining why the patient needs the medicine.
To get all the necessary paperwork to clear customs, foreigners have to spend a day at MINSA waiting in line. Then they wait another day or two to get the permit they need to present to customs to bring their medicine into the country. When that’s done, they have to then go to customs to pick up their medicine. Have fun in customs.
For someone who lives outside Managua, this isn’t an easy process. For someone whose life depends on taking medicine, this is terrifying.
This was the case of Peter, who is 85. Peter’s daughter, who lives in the U.S., sent her dad some medicine. Peter’s doctor told me that if Peter doesn’t take his heart medication in 10 days, he could die.
The medicine Peter’s daughter sent him was in Nicaragua within 36 hours after she sent it. But then it took him four business days to clear it with Nicaraguan authorities. What was this 85-year-old doing during those four days in Nicaragua? He was looking for a doctor he’s never met to explain his case and convince him to write a prescription for him to get medicine that he had already bought—all because of silly bureaucracy.
After that, Peter had to go online to find the chemical composition of the medicine. After that, he had to write a letter explaining why the medicine was important to his health. When he got to MINSA, they didn’t even listen to his case. They were more interested in him paying the 35 cordobas that is required. They took his papers and sent him home for the weekend. When Monday came around, Peter went back to MINSA to pick up a small piece of paper that said he is permitted to have his medicine, which is not sold in Nicaragua! This is medicine that his U.S. doctor had already prescribed him! Medicine that the FDA approved! Medicine that was never even touched by a MINSA official!
What is the worst part of all this? Peter will have to do this all over again in a few weeks when he refills his bottle. This is only one case. There are diabetics who have been taking the same medicine for 56 years, and he now need to find a local doctor and go through all the bureaucracy every time they want to bring their insulin into the country.
So to all the folks looking to move to paradise, this is a serious issue to consider before you move down here. And to the government officials who are looking to lure foreign retirees to Nicaragua by making it attractive and comfortable to live here, WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!?!?!? FIX THIS PROBLEM!