San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua is Beautiful, Warts and All

A recent “Perspective” article published in The Nica Times about corruption in Nicaragua (“A Revolution of Capitalism & Corruption” by Howard Cox, NT, Feb.26) gives a poor impression of Nicaragua and shows only the negatives of the current administration.

Points of history are always debatable and written by the victors. His article stated the Sandinista revolution was followed by a “decade of death, destruction and deprivation.”

But the author forgets that a primary reason for the revolution was that the people of Nicaragua had to fight the constant intervention and eventual financing of a civil war by another country with vast resources.Without the people’s consent, the president of the United States used every means to turn brother against brother and country against country to ensure the Nicaraguan revolutionaries did not stay in power.

It was a sad chapter in the history of both countries.

But the Sandinistas did give up their power in the democratic election of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in 1990. Daniel Ortega did not regain the presidency again until he was democratically elected in 2006.

Is Ortega trying to change things so he can remain president? Yes. Like most politicians, he does not want to give up his power. It’s the same in the United States, but in that country there are strong laws to prevent the abuse of power.

But does anyone really believe that people here are that different from people in power in any other country? Will Ortega succeed in being reelected? The majority seems to hope he won’t, but time will tell.

As guests in this country, we are for anything that will improve the lives of the Nicaraguans.

I wish there were a candidate running for president of Nicaragua who exemplified intelligence, stature, humility and honor. But there is no one like that on the horizon.

Then again, I wished the same thing for many years while living in the United States during the administration of George W. Bush.

We will never all agree on what constitutes a good president. I love the United States and I love my chosen home of Nicaragua. But politicians seem to be a necessary evil we must endure in both countries.

To be fair, President Ortega has accomplished many things for this country, which he loves in his own way. The new Coastal Law and the new expat retirees’ benefits were greatly anticipated and well received.

One of the foundations of which I am a member works with the neighborhood schools, which are receiving many more materials and books during Ortega’s administration, not to mention food for the students and the elimination of school fees. The state of education here is still dismal, but it has improved.

There are a lot of complaints about Nicaragua and many of them are rightly blamed on the present administration. Corruption is common here, as it is in any poor country and – to varying degrees – in all countries.

People complain about the electricity sometimes going off. But then look at the resources, the pay of the electrical workers, and the amount stolen by the users of electricity. It is a wonder the electrical system here works at all.

People complain that the police do nothing. But put yourself in their shoes – they have few resources, limited gas for just a few vehicles, little training, and get paid low wages.

Again, do you truly believe the people here are that much different than in any other country, given the environment and circumstances?

As expats, we are guests here and we do not have rights, but we do have privileges that were given to us.

Are some things really frustrating? Yup, there are days I could just scream. I have hundreds of stories of illogical and just plain stupid things that have happened to me that I only vaguely understand. There are cultural differences I do not pretend to comprehend.

But much of my frustration is often directed at the expat community and the sometimes silly or strange actions they take. Nicaragua is our chosen country and we choose to live here, warts and all. If it ever becomes too much to handle then we shall move to another country.

If you want to help Nicaragua there are many foundations doing wonderful things for the people, especially children in need. These organizations would love to have your experience and assistance. There are also many community groups that are making a difference. In Granada we have the Amigos de la Policia, Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, CARE Granada, and the American Legion.

Not your cup of tea? Then start your own group and tackle an issue. Nicaragua is a beautiful country filled with people who are essentially gentle and friendly, considering their oppressive and war-torn past. The resources are here for it to be a great country and a breadbasket for other countries.

Good leaders could do wonders for this country. But the same could be said for most countries in the world.

Darrell and Amy Bushnell moved to Nicaragua from North Carolina in 2006 after visiting several times. They have a home in Granada and are active in several projects helping Nicaragua and Granada. A website featuring their diaries is at

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