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Church caught in the middle as Nicaragua wrestles with past, present

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Arriving by air in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, with the plane coming down over a green lagoon in the crater of the volcano of Apoyeque, one can’t shake the feeling that the country is trapped between what it is and what it should have been.

Through the years, Managua has struggled against itself: Eighty percent of the city’s buildings turned to dust in a great earthquake of 1972, and in many cases, what was built to replace them does not look sturdy enough to sustain much more than a strong wind, despite warnings from experts that take for granted another such tragedy will occur sooner or later.

There are no skyscrapers, no great buildings made entirely of glass nor lavish resorts along the shores of Lake Managua, one of the few in the world with freshwater sharks. Pollution – due to the dumping of chemicals and waste water since the 1930s – has made the lake a dangerous place for a swim, and only recently, thanks to a purification plant paid for by the German government in 2009, was the lake reopened for water sports.

During the rainy season from May to November, Managua becomes a lush city due to its many palms, bushes, and other plants and trees which dominate its appearance, mixed with enormous, colorful structures known as the “tree of life,” put up by Rosario Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, and currently also his Vice President.

Sotto voce, many locals are quick to clarify that it’s she who really leads the country and that she’s the one responsible for the quick downfall of the country’s economy, which was projected to grow five percent this year in this Central American nation with a population estimated at six million.

“She’s crazy,” a driver told Crux Nov. 16. “She’s hungry for power, and as cliché as it might sound, she has a stone for a heart.”

To make the point, he tells the story that in 1998, Murillo stood by her husband after her daughter – his step-daughter, Zoilemerica Murillo – denounced him for sexual abuse. Since then, the daughter has been exiled to Costa Rica, and in 2016 published a post on Facebook calling the current political alliance in Nicaragua part of the price the two paid for Murillo’s silence.

“If a mother is willing to betray her own daughter, what won’t she do against the people?” the driver asked, rhetorically.


Read more at Crux. 

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