Update from Nicaragua: Don't judge a book by its cover.
More about Nicaragua and my relationship with this country.
June 2018: In Memorarium, Peder Kolind (in Danish)
March 2018: Letter to Kevin
February 2018: Back to Nicaragua - back to happy faces
Around a month ago, I posted a dramatic account from my friend Peter in Nicaragua. I later heard that a few tourists had been spotted in the streets of Granada and I got the impression that things were looking up.
But a very recent phone call with Peter paints a much different (and clearer) picture of the situation.
ILLEGAL TO PROTEST
Fights in the streets have stopped. Partly because the barricades have all been torn down by the government and paramilitary groups - and partly because a new anti-terrorism law has entered into force - making any kind of protesting illegal. In the government's own words, the law
"will provide the government with the “necessary and sufficient tools” needed to “effectively combat” money laundering, organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking". But the UN has no doubts. President Daniel Ortega will use the law to criminalize protesters and place them in prison. And protestors face up to 20 years in prison. The same goes for priests and members of the church who have been supporting the opposition. This reportage by France 24, mentions one of the many people who have been arrested, likely tortured and imprisoned for openly talking about the crisis. In this case, the woman encouraged her fellow citizens to join her civil disobedience movement.
It is true that a few tourists have been seen in the streets of Granada. They were most likely attracted by the seemingly calm situation. However, only a handful of hotel rooms are currently occupied - as this reportage from Voz de America explains.
There are currently 4-5 restaurants/bars open in the once jam-packed street "La Calzada" - now known as "La desolada". Most shops are still closed and barred with large metal plates in order to avoid looting.
THE COST SO FAR
Roughly 350 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the crisis in April this year and thousands have been left injured.
Since April, the crisis has caused Nicaragua (already one of the poorest countries of the Americas) a loss of 637 million dollars.
At least 215.000 people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the crisis.
Sources: First hand accounts from friends in Granada, France 24, VoAnews, Aljazeera.com