Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The President gets fruity

Last week was Revolution Day (19th July) here in Nicaragua.

The day celebrates the day the people overthrew the dictator Samoza Garcìa in 1979. The dictator was overthrown principally by the revolutionary army, the Sandinista, who had a brief spell in power before the United States funded a guerrilla army to overthrow them.

Anyway, that was 18 years ago and the people are finally moving on as the first generation probably in Nicaragua's history are growing up without having lived through war.

However, the former Sandinista leader and now president - he was re elected last November - doesn't seem to want to forget that revolution.

Watching the huge rally on television taking place in the capital Managua, I felt I could have been in North Korea or one of those despotic former Soviet states. The stage was adorned with pineapple and melons - a symbol of prosperity I presume - and giant billboards of the president, in his trademark jeans, collarless shirt and a cap, looking down on the people with a clenched fist in the air.

After the President was hero worshipped for half an hour - by his wife - we were then treated to one of many long speeches about winning the revolution interspersed with chants of 'Arriba the World's Poor'.

Sadly one of President Daniel Ortega's friends of the struggle couldn't make it, Libya's Colonel Ghadaffi, but his other big buddy could, Hugo Chavez.

What followed was more promises to help the world's poor and finally what many had been waiting for, and Daniel didn't disappoint, a big rant about the USA and the fact that most of Nicaragua's problems are really down to the imperialists.

I'm no fan of US policy in Central America but surely it doesn't help to provoke a superpower that is also doing quite of bit for the people in the very countryside I'm working in.

Throughout the event a Spanish version of Give Peace of Chance was played and another popular ditty called Power to the People boomed over the speakers every time Mr or Mrs Ortega said something poignant.

If you were a new comer to the country you'd think the revolution happened a week last Tuesday.

The papers said pretty much same, 'Why his Ortega talking about war when all the Nicaraguans want to do is work' was the tone of it. Even ardent supporters like the ones based here in the north were a bit mythed - they´d never seen so much pomp and ceremony.

Let's hope pomp and ceremony was all it was because, as someone who's beginning to get an understanding of this country, I'd say the main enemy is within in the name of corruption and chronic mismanagement.

And finally, on a positive note, we've had power for the last 3 nights running. Let's hope that's one problem fixed.

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