the journal


Day 14 – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Filed Under international travel

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – December 10th, 2008

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I thought I was going to have some peace and solitude here in San Juan del Sur, known for their lazy beaches and nesting sea turtles. However, I happen to arrive on a day when President Daniel Ortega has come into town. Hundreds of Sandinistas were bussed into this small community on the Pacific to wave their black and red Sandinista flags and praise the recent outcome of the November mayoral elections. Although not covered in the US news, I´ve been monitoring this political unrest for over a month, where the opposing party is accusing the Sandanistas of election fraud. The US agrees and recently cut off a major annual allowance to this poor country. Small protests were attempted in Managua as recently as the first week of December by the opposing party looking for democracy in the election but were outnumbered by Sandanistas wearing masks and wielding guns. Many expats I´ve talked to said it was nothing more than drunk young men being hooligans. I´m sure that is why the international media didn´t cover it.

Tonight marks the celebration of the questionable elections. The Sandinista party has declared victory and Daniel Ortega and his wife presented the winners in front of a somewhat calm crowd of at least 800 men, women, and children. Even as I write this, a few more buses of teenage Sandanistas have arrived just outside the door of the cybercafe, holding their flags, excited to be here.

I was in the heart of the party a moment ago, where security is so tight they tested my camera to make sure it wasn´t a weapon in disguise before I could enter the area. Dozens of police are here and special forces have lookouts on every building surrounding the plaza. With my big camera, I was able to get onto the media island, elevated above the crowd and only a stone´s throw from the Prez himself. After 30 minutes, I got the photos I wanted and left. Listening to politicians speak is one thing, but when you can´t understand the language they´re speaking in, it´s a whole new level of boredom.

I don´t know what will happen after the speeches are over. I assume people will linger around town and have fun. San Juan del Sur has been a vacation spot for the locals for centuries, so I´m sure those bussed in will take the time to enjoy it, just like the tourists.

If I don´t like the scene tonight, I´ll head up to Leon tomorrow.