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En Español: Nicaragua in turmoil, or how I learned to love Miami

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A woman stands near a burning barricade holding the national flag of Nicaragua in 2018. — Your Voice/public domain

Nicaragua convulsionada o de cómo aprendí a amar Miami

De Nicaragua a Florida en avión son dos horas en el aire, unos trecientos dólares en boleto y paciencia, mucha paciencia en la aduana. Luego de eso es el mismo español, pero con acento más caribe, el mismo calor, aunque a veces más húmedo y las mismas opciones de comida nica, aunque siempre más caras.

Después de escuchar a un vehículo con policías o para policías rafaguear hacia estudiantes y ciudadanos apostados tras una barricada en protesta contra el gobierno, a sólo unas calles de la casa de una amiga, compré el boleto más barato saliendo de Managua a Miami. Siempre he detestado Miami, pero después de estar a como estamos ahora en Nicaragua, debo admitir, fue la gloria.

Entramos al aeropuerto internacional Augusto C. Sandino a las diez de la noche. La policía nos revisó el carro, nos preguntó si cargábamos armas, me sentí como en la película Kamchatka o cualquier otra de esas pelis argentinas sobre la dictadura. Me despedí. Tomé el vuelo sobre vendido, despegó y dormí. Despierto en la Florida, ese limbo de Latinoamérica. Veo galerones, fábricas, grafitis, night-clubs, patios de casas pobres y viejas en medio de la nada, una nada que es mar caribe, que es también ese todo de generaciones de migrantes. Me siento como siempre, con demasiados hogares.

Fui ingenua, jamás pensé cuando estalló la crisis actual que se vive en mi país, que iba a durar tanto o ser tan turbia. Sabía al igual que otros, que este gobierno que insistía en permanecer en el poder iba a terminar mal, pero nunca supe cómo o cuándo todo se iba a derrapar, ni me atrevo a afirmar cuándo he tenido certeza de que en Nicaragua estemos medianamente bien.

Porque cuando cumplí cuatro años estalló la guerra civil, una cola de la guerra fría que duró hasta 1990. Pero luego no vino la paz, vinieron los rearmados, las políticas refritas neoliberales y más pobreza. Después lo que hubo fue corrupción y la caja de pandora del actual partido de gobierno (FSLN), finalmente se abrió; gracias a la acusación de abuso sexual que le hizo Zoila América Narváez (su hijastra) a Daniel Ortega, el ahora presidente de Nicaragua. Después de más corrupción y un pacto político entre los entonces dos partidos fuertes del país, triunfo de nuevo el FSLN.

Entonces vino esa paz que el presidente Ortega clama le están arrebatando desde el 18 de abril del 2018, la paz que según él precedió esta tormenta de protestas y represión fue en realidad un acuerdo tácito entre todos los nicaragüenses; en el que olvidamos las acusaciones de violación al mandatario y estaba bien negociar con la vida de las mujeres, ilegalizando el aborto terapéutico a cambio de votos. Se debía mirar a otro lado cuando reelegían eternamente a funcionarios públicos, al igual que si estos se volvían millonarios con jet privados y palacetes en Madrid.

Tampoco se oían las protestas de los campesinos en contra de la minería, o en contra de concesiones gubernamentales a empresas chinas para construir un canal interoceánico. Jamás sentimos el olor a los petrodólares venezolanos y menos cuestionamos por qué ahora la familia Ortega-Murillo tiene el doble o el triple de empresas que antes de volver al poder. Esa paz privilegiada es la que extraña Ortega, y tal vez también muchos otros nicaragüenses, y esa búsqueda por preservarla salpica sangre, violencia, abuso, una dictadura, otra dictadura, la misma dictadura, un bucle a desatar.

Nicaragua in Turmoil, or How I Learned to Love Miami

Translated by Dallin Law

Nicaragua to Florida by plane is two hours in the air, a few hundred dollars in tickets and patience — a lot of patience — in the customs line. After that, it’s the same Spanish, but with a thicker Caribbean accent; the same heat, though more humid some days; and the same options for Nicaraguan cuisine, though always more expensive.

When a group of students and citizens protesting the government were gunned down behind their barricade, either by police or parapolice (masked militia groups acting as law enforcement), several blocks from my friend’s home, I bought the cheapest available ticket from Managua to Miami. I’ve always hated Miami, but after experiencing our current situation in Nicaragua, I have to admit, it was glorious.

We entered the Augusto C. Sandino international airport at 10 p.m. The police searched our car and asked if we were carrying guns. I felt like I was in Kamchatka or any other of those Argentine movies about the dictatorship. I said my goodbyes and boarded the overbooked flight. I fell asleep after takeoff, and upon waking, found myself in Florida, the Latin American limbo. I saw warehouses, factories, graffiti, night clubs, patios of old, poor houses in the middle of nowhere, a nowhere that is the Caribbean sea, which is also the everywhere of generations of migrants. I felt the same as always, like I have too many homes.

I was naive. When my country’s current crisis broke out, I never imagined it would last so long or be so messy. I was certain, as others were, that this government insisting on staying in power would end badly, but I never knew how or when it all was going to skid out of control, nor could I venture a guess with any amount of certainty on when we were doing halfway-alright in Nicaragua.

When I turned 4 years old, the civil war broke out, a leftover of the cold war that lasted until 1990. But after the war ended, it wasn’t peace that filled its place, only the “rearmed” rearmados army, the same neoliberal policies and more poverty. Peace didn’t follow this either, just more corruption, and the Pandora’s Box of the ruling FSLN party (also known as the sandinista National LIberation Front), was thrown open thanks to Zoila América Naváez accusing Daniel Ortega, her stepfather and the current president of Nicaragua, of sexual abuse. After more corruption and a political pact between the two dominant parties at the time, there was yet another political win for FSLN.

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Then peace was restored, the same peace that President Ortega claimed had been denied to him since April 18, 2018. Those times of peace, as Ortega calls them, before the protests and government repression, in reality represented a tacit agreement among Nicaraguans. We agreed to overlook the accusations of rape against the president. We agreed to allow women’s lives to be used as bargaining chips, outlawing medically necessary abortions in exchange for votes. We agreed to turn a blind eye as government officials were reelected again and again or became millionaires, flying their private jets to mansions in Madrid.

We agreed to ignore the Nicaraguans from rural communities protesting against the mining industry and the governmental concessions to Chinese corporations building a transoceanic canal through their land. We agreed to ignore the smell of oil-soaked Venezuelan dollars and above all, we agreed not to question why the number of businesses controlled by the Ortega-Murillo family has doubled, perhaps tripled since their return to power. That’s the privileged peace that Ortega and many other Nicaraguans miss, and their quest to preserve this peace yields bloodshed, violence, sexual abuse, one dictatorship, another dictatorship, the same dictatorship — a loop impossible to untangle.

Natalia Hernandez Somarriba was born in Nicaragua in 1982. She is a writer and film producer and is currently studying for a master’s degree in creative writing in Spanish at the University of Iowa. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and literary journals. Dallin Law studies literary translation at the University of Iowa. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 251.


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