Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America

On Saturday we went to Mercado Huembes to do some Christmas shopping. Huembes is a massive monstrosity of booths and stalls with people selling just about everything you can think of. Gringos tend to get "special" prices here but showing interest in something and then walking away when they tell you the price usually magically results in a substantial discount being offered. A prime example is I bought 4 soccer jerseys for $15. My original "special" gringo price was $40 but when I started walking to the next booth I suddenly got a better price.

Here's a video of I took driving around Heumbes from the outside.

Pretty Flowers

Juniett Finds A Purse

The Soccer Shirt Store

Mercado Huembes

Mercado Huembes

Juniett Haggling

Watch Out For These Kids...

Piggy Banks

Trying On Shoes


"Latina" Mannequin

The Hammock Shop

Mercado Huembes

Handmade Chairs, $20

Please STOP!

Juniett Has A Snack

More Graffiti

Great Carne Asada

This next section is confusing but it's important so bear with me.

While I was in Nicaragua Daniel Ortega instituted what are called the Consejos del Poder Ciudadano or Councils of Citizens Power (CPC) by executive order and named his wife as the head of the new organization. Ortega says that the CPC's will establish "direct democracy" and will give the people a greater voice in government. Opponents say they're a thinly veiled attempt to reestablish the Comités de Defensa Sandinista or Sandinista Defense Commitees of the 1980's whose main function was to spy on people and harass those that were opposed to them. The legislature responded by passing Act 630 which outlawed the CPC's. Ortega responded by vetoing the act. The legislature then overrode the veto. Ortega then called together the Sandinista controlled supreme court of Nicaragua for a midnight meeting where they declared the CPC's legal so they were back in business. In response, the legislature has refused to fund them and declared that anyone using government money for CPC activities will be prosecuted for fraud.

What Ortega says the CPC's are for is really immaterial. The sheer chaos they have caused in Nicaragua speaks volumes about what the people think they're about. Within days, hundreds of telephone polls around Managua had "NO CPC" painted on them. Because the court said they were legal the legislature has refused to pass a budget for 2008. This has lead to the EU stating that they have "serious concerns" about continuing funding to Nicaragua. (This year alone the EU has given Nicaragua US $241 million.) In fact, over 60% of Nicaragua's budget comes from foreign aid. I don't know about you but I'm in serious trouble if I lose 60% of my budget. Clearly, Nicaragua is rapidly spiralling into crisis and frankly I see Ortega as a desperate sea captain about to go down with his ship. Unfortunately, there's a couple of million innocent people on his ship and he's going to take them all with him.

Here's a note that was left on my front porch the day the CPC's went into effect:

The same day I got this email from the US Embassy in Managua:

Warden Message 

CPC Rally in Managua - November 30, 2007 

November 29, 2007

A rally of the Councils of Citizens Power (CPC) is planned for Friday,
 November 30 at 3:00 PM at the Plaza de la La Revolución, which is the
 area between the old cathedral and the Presidential palace.  CPC
 supporters from outside of Managua may be bussed in as early as 10:00 AM the
 day of the rally. The event may last as late as 8:00 PM. Expected crowd
 estimates range from 10,000 to 100,000.

The Nicaraguan Police intend to deploy resources to maintain public
 order.  The Regional Security Officer at the Embassy has notified all
 Embassy personnel to avoid travel in the affected areas; not to drive
 through any barricades encountered on the street; and to keep windows up,
 doors locked, and a cell phone in their vehicles. Traffic along North
 Highway will likely be heavy all day. 

We wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended
 to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into
 violence.  American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of
 demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of
 any demonstrations.

The "100,000" people estimate must have been made by the same person that came up with the million man march. The actual "crowd" looked like it was barely 1000 people. To me, it was one more indication of how little support Ortega has among the people. I took this video while driving through Managua. Every telephone pole in the video has "NO CPC" painted on it.

No "CPC"

It's Christmas Time

Feliz Navidad

I honestly hope that I'm wrong and everything is resolved peacefully. The rapid changes in the month that I was away from Nicaragua, however, really disturbed me. I really love Nicaragua and it's a shame that they have such a rotten bunch of politicians. The people deserve better.

Feliz Navidad

Juniett Getting Ready

Our Bedroom

I Don't Want To Go

Adios, Managua

Managua Daredevil

Viva Cuba

Viva Cuba

Lunch At The Airport

Mmmm, Queso


Airport Restaurant

Foodcourt In Airport

Augusto Sandino Airport

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