San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Best, Worst & Weirdest of 2008

Nicaragua was anything but uninteresting this year. Even in difficult moments, this place never lost its brilliant sense of humor and irony – intangible elements that help make Nicaragua such a wonderful and unique place, where hope springs eternal. Below is a sampling of reporter’s notebook highlights gathered from throughout the year, quotes from newsmakers that help to explain a country that sometimes seems beyond all description.

By Tim Rogers


Worst Slip in a Political Speech:

“…2007, a year of a sellout government of corrupt thieves…”

–President Daniel Ortega, who was head of the

government in 2007.

Best Description of ALBA:

“ALBA is a mystery enveloped in a cloud of fog wrapped in an enormous enigma.”

–PLC lawmaker Francisco Aguirre, president

of the National Assembly’s Economic and Budget

Commission, on the Bolivarian Alternative for the

Americas (ALBA).

Worst Campaign Stunt:

“Watch out for thieves on the bus!”

–Enrique Quiñonez, the PLC’s former vicemayoral

candidate for Managua, yelling a

word of warning to his running mate, Eduardo

Montealegre, as he got off the bus in Managua.

Montealegre tried to counter his elitist image

and connect with voters by riding on a city bus

Oct. 24. The stunt backfired when Montealegre

admitted it was his first time on a bus and that

he didn’t know how much the fare was or how to

pay. The campaign ploy turned disastrous when

Quiñonez yelled his words of advice, making the

two candidates seem more elitist and out of touch

than ever.

Most Ironic T-Shirt:

“Safety is My Priority”

–Worn by a Sandinista supporter as he attacked

riot police with a club during political riots in León

last September.

Best Anti-Burglary System:

“Next time we are going to switch the tiger cage and the bird cage at night.”

–National Zoo Director Marina Argüello after five

men broke into the zoo early morning Jan. 19 and

stole 17 rare and endangered birds.

Best Explanation of Why the Opposition Party is Divided:

“The problem is that when a lawmaker gets his name in the paper, he thinks he is a leader and wants to become the next president. And now that Ortega is president, everyone says ‘If he can do it, I can do it. You don’t even need to graduate from college to be president of Nicaragua’.”

–PLC vice president and lawmaker Wilfredo

Navarro, who himself has run unsuccessfully for

president and mayor of Managua.

Best Typo That Almost Made it into Print in The Nica Times:

“President Daniel Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo hand out gifts to children to honor the immaculate conception of the Virgin Marty.”

–Pray for us, Virgin Marty.

Most Difficult Job Description:

“In my caricatures, I try to express irony, sarcasm, implausibility and ridiculousness – which is no small task in a country where the national reality and its political protagonists are in clear competition with me every day.”

–Pedro X. Molina, cartoonist for the daily El

Nuevo Diario, on his challenge to make his cartoons

loonier than the news he’s lampooning.

Best Comment on the Media:

“In Nicaragua, we are specialists in producing bad news.”

–Comandante Bayardo Arce, economic adviser

to President Ortega.

Best Job Evaluation:

“If we weren’t in government,I don’t know where Nicaragua would be right now. Thank God we came to power on Jan. 10, 2007. On the contrary, the country would be in a situation of total chaos.”

–President Daniel Ortega in a speech May 15.

Worst Job Evaluation:

“The only positive thing about Ortega’s first year in office is that now there’s one less year left on his presidential term.”

–Opposition leader Eduardo Montealegre, when

asked in January if he can name any positive from

Ortega’s first year in office.

Best Anatomical Reference:

“I am the bellybutton of this great party.”

–Alexis Argüello, Managua’s mayor-elect,

when asked about his relationship to the FSLN.

Best E-Mail Hoax:

–This photo, with a caption stating that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has a son who works in Managua’s On the Run Metrocentro, was circulated among email groups in December. The photo, however, was apparently taken in the Dominican Republic.


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