Monday, March 2, 2009

Field Notes from Nicaragua

(I have not had time to properly put together an entry but these are some of my field notes. I will have a blog on a microfinance initiative up tomorrow with photos)

1. Gas has not lowered like in the United Sates - the price is around $3 a gallon. (considering 75% of the country makes less than $2 a day - it is quite high)

2. Many people are scared that the recession in the United States is going to greatly affect the flow of remittances (family members sending money home) flowing into the country (a figure that is estimated as 12% of the GDP)

3. The group of college students doing research had a presentation from a former Maryknoll priest who highlighted the current political climate in the country and the current events. It appears that the latest rounds of municipal elections were widely fraudulent and caused quite the stir in the population. The votes (which are done through tabling under the watch of an elected official from each party are supposed to be posted in public via the internet and voting cites) were called after reporting from the major Sandinista regions were in. However, other parties have amassed the carbon copies (signed by each of party observer) and with 97% reporting they show different results for certain seats.

4. Crime, already a problem, has sharply risen in the capital. I spoke with taxi drivers who do not drive into the poorer districts of the city for fear of robbery. Others will pay to take a taxi for short rides as to not be walking after the sun goes down in Managua.

5. Every Nicaraguan mentioned how over the last year things have gotten slowly worse – less work and high prices are leading to even more difficult living conditions.

6. People have a very positive view of President Obama – the most common responses are - intelligent, honest, and ¨not Bush¨. It seems many people in my circle (friends and social workers) know about the difficult situation occurring in the United States. The news and newspapers (widely read) have been running stories of the recessions and banking troubles.

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