This interview was with a Nicaraguan high school professor who has been teaching French for the last 12 years. She grew up in Nicaragua and has spent the majority of her life here but has traveled abroad as well--giving her a unique perspective on Nicaragua and it's future. All interviews with her are in Spanish.
What is your opinion on the harvesting of natural resources in Nicaragua?
There have been abuses in the cutting of trees and too many grants have been given for harvesting. However, while listening to the radio this morning, I heard that the government has passed legislation which prohibits lumber harvesting in Nicaragua for the next five years.
And what do you think of that solution?
Well, I think it's a good solution because, at least on the Atlantic Coast, much of the forests have been destroyed by the Juana Hurricane. Supposedly, the permissions to harvest timber were given to companies on the condition that they would take only the trees which had been killed by the hurricane. Nevertheless, after they had taken all the fallen lumber they continued harvesting by cutting down the living trees. So, the problem is that in Nicaragua laws aren't always applied. A law can be passed but the question is whether it will actually be enforced.
Even though these lumber companies are illegally destroying natural resources, they are supplying jobs for poor Nicaraguans, fifty percent of which are under-employed or unemployed. Which is more important, natural resources or poverty?
I think that both areas are important. It's important to preserve the vegetation because that is an investment in the future. You can't sacrifice natural resources for a temporary economic situation-there have to be long term solutions. So, yes, I think that the trees need to be exploited because Nicaragua has some very old trees, but things need to be done like they are done in countries like Switzerland. There, for every tree that is cut three have to be planted and no tree can be cut which is less than thirty years old. So the laws which have proved very beneficial in other countries need to be applied here, as well. For example, a few years ago, there were some projects which were instigated here with the help of the Swiss government which helped companies harvest the forests on the condition that they reinvest some of their profits in the planting of new trees. Most of these projects ended with the end of the Chamorro administration, though.
What do you think about the new law which US President Clinton passed which allows Nicaraguans and Cubans who were present in the United States before '95 to become US citizens? And what do you think the US response should be to the illegal aliens living in the US?
I think there are too many illegal aliens for the US government to ignore. The economic crisis which befall certain countries sometimes oblige people to go elsewhere and the country which offers these people the most opportunities is the United States. Beside the US, there is Mexico but Mexico can't offer the possibilities which the US can. So the people, after searching for a job and not finding one and because of other problems, desperately try to find a way to go anywhere else that offers a better way of life. Others go for adventure. But, yes, I think that the US has a problem because they can't receive everyone who has problems in another country. I really think that the US has given a lot of help to a lot of people. In Nicaragua's case, the fact that all of the "illegal aliens" who were living in the US because of the Sandinistas can now become US citizens has been a great help to Nicaragua. But not all of the Central American countries have had the problems that Nicaragua has experienced. The US has been very good to Nicaragua, but they can't continue receiving more and more people and so they are compelled to control the amount of immigrants.