Saturday, April 11, 2015

Corinto Unmined

During he first reporting trip I made to Nicaragua, in 1983, the United States had mined this harbor, on the small, beautiful bay of Corinto. The revolutionary Sandinista government went on a war footing.  In the capital, Managua, I saw neighbors  digging trenches and practicing drills, armed with sticks, to fight back the Yankee invader who was expected to appear.  Heroes like Carlos Fonseca, founder of the Sandinista Front, and German Pomares, nicknamed Danto, the tapir, were invoked to bring spirit to a justifiably frightened population. In the end, the Yankees did not invade but Pres. Ronald Reagan ordered the CIA to arm the contras forces. They wreaked havoc on the country, with the loss of many lives.  
Today entering Corinto a soft breeze blows as the ship passes a white lighthouse and a statue of Ruben Dario, the renowned Nicaraguan poet who wrote one of his beloved poems on a visit here, Al Margarita del Valle.

In town, signs advertise help with U.S. visas.

Maria Elena Sanchez, municipal delegate for the Ministry of Education, praises Rosario Murillo, head of government communications and wife of Pres. Daniel Ortega, as a "model for women," who has pushed up the percentage of women in government positions to the highest they have ever been.

Teachers at the local school recounted their memories of those awful days in the 1980s, when the small boats they call piranhas came in at night with their mines.  They recall walking the 20 kilometers to find shelter and military trucks arriving to take out those who could not walk, as aircraft bombed the gasoline storage tanks at the harbor.  They recall going to the countryside to teach literacy.

Today Nicaragua enjoys a democratically elected government headed by the Sandinista party, and with Costa Rica, can boast the lowest crime rates in Central America. Health care is available for those who need it, and youngsters can read and write.

It's a tragedy so many lives were lost at one time, but a visit to Corinto today makes the visitor feel the country lives in hope for the future .