The problem of unemployment in Nicaragua has reached the point where the instinct for survival is much more important to people than their human dignity.
We live in an era when it is better to earn something and survive than it is to have nothing and suffer from poverty. In these times, choosing a job to have is a luxury, since jobs are so scarce. People must work in whatever job they can find, and do the best they can, without consideration to what the job pays, whether or not it puts their mental or physical health at risk, or what the sacrifice is to their family. It’s just about earning a miserable salary, because that’s better than earning nothing at all.
What has become of us? Where is the value of human life? Does this crisis have a solution? Or are its roots so deep that we are destined to live this way for a long time?
The youth of Nicaragua, despite being the majority of the population, don’t have enough work experience by virtue of the fact that we’re young; as a consequence, many young people are not being hired for decent jobs. And if they do find work, it is usually in exchange for favors.
Employees in Nicaragua—in both the public and private sectors—are usually hired on the basis of friendship or personal relations, and not so much based on professional merit or competition. That’s why many institutions don’t work properly or simply fall under the weight of their own incompetence. When enterprises fail, it further delays the nation’s economic progress and produces rising unemployment.
Companies do not have enough incentives to hire young people, even those with university degrees. The vast majority of the youth between the ages of 16 and 35 are unemployed. Many of those who are lucky enough to be employed have a job that doesn’t pay well, or doesn’t give them the opportunity to grow within the institution or company. Many other young people are working in jobs unrelated to what they studied because there are no jobs available in their areas of expertise. There seem to be very few people who work in jobs that they like and earn a decent wage doing so.
The alternative to working in a dead-end job is equally grim. Dignified young people who choose not to pay that price have to endure unemployed for a long time, which produces an increasing amount of economic and psychological anguish.
Unfortunately, there are many who give in and accept the stingy alms they are offered in order to prevent starvation, or to avoid a life of crime. The country is filled with involuntarily delinquent youth who threaten the security of all the Nicaraguans; it’s a danger that increases every day.
But there is a solution to those with means. It consists of creating their own business, with imagination and solidarity and even with few resources. Entrepreneurship is not only an alternative to survive in a micro-enterprise, but will also improve the quality of life of youth.
By triggering individual initiative and entrepreneurial character, we will inevitably create new employment. By creating their own businesses, young people will become productive citizens and free themselves of the humiliation of working for humiliating alms doled out by those who continue to feast, fatten their bank accounts, and spend wastefully. By working for ourselves, the youth of Nicaragua will become the social and economic solution that, little by little, will pull our dear country back from the edge of the black hole.
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.