Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Conversations and Headlines

This is a list of a few interesting tidbits I have come across in recent conversations and newspaper headlines in Nicaragua

1. Gov'ts Christmas Lights cause a Stir

This link tells of the political christmas trees that dot the capital. The interesting part is the government is paying (US$12 a day) and feeding people (three meals) to camp out, show support, and wave the flag. An article in one of the two national newspapers blasted the government's spending on the christmas lights and "the prayer-ers" calling it a waste of spending and a political ploy that only benefits Sandinistas. Articles highlighting wasted or political spending and the recent fraud in local elections is creating a rift in the country. From taxi drivers, to social workers, and Nicaraguan friends President Ortega is increasing seen as no longer exuding the principles of the Sandinistas and some have begun to call his supporters Danielistas instead.

2. President Ortega the next Putin or Chavez?

Al Jazeera's David Frost (from the famous Frost/Nixon interviews) recently interviewed President Daniel Ortega. Frost is the first person to get Ortega to speak on his personal political future. The answer is disheartening considering the democratic values the Sandinista founders professed and depicts Ortega's goal of holding on to power as long as he possibly can. There are two possible paths that have already been paved as examples - Russian's Putin who hand picked a successor and rules as the prime minister and Venezuela's Chavez who on his second attempt with in a year's time was able to remove term limits by amending the constitution through referendum vote. (According to wikipedia - the resolution passed with 54% voting in favor after 94% of the votes have been counted)

3. Walmart International

There are two supermarkets in Leon. The bigger and more popular one is called El Union. It was brought to my attention that it is owned and run by Walmart International. Some foreign items are produced in country and have a low cost compared to the average US 7-11 store - for instance Powerade is 50 cents and a large Gatorade is a dollar. Fruits are seasonal and many signs, particularly for fruit and the various coffees, promote the item as "export quality" or the name of the exporter (such as Avocados "exported by Hess").

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