This interview was conducted with a Cuban engineer who has been living in Nicaragua for the last 7 years and has been working as a college professor at a private Nicaraguan university. He has lived in the United States for a few years, among other places, and was consequently able to give a very down-to-earth view of Nicaragua. All interviews with him are in English.
You mentioned that swimming was your favorite activity. So what do you think of the beaches?
I enjoy the beaches anyplace in the world.
Well what do you think of the Nicaraguan beaches?
I've only been to Pochomil on the Pacific, and as I told you, I always enjoy beaches but I didn't like Pochomil.
Because I'm used to the Caribbean beaches, they have no waves and it looks like a big swimming pool. And Pochomil was a wave after another one and you can't enjoy swimming, at least my kind of swimming. I agree that sunbathing and all that is nice, but I prefer the Cuban beaches. I've heard that in Corn Island they have very nice beaches--my kind of beaches.
What have you been doing in the six years that you have been in Nicaragua?
I tried in the beginning to work as an engineer-I am an engineer--but there is no work for Nicaraguans so how could I expect to get a job here? I have been a teacher since 1978, I teach Calculus, so I decided to look for a job in schools.
What kind of schools have you been working at?
Since I have been here I have worked at ANS, the American Nicaraguan School, and I began teaching at the English Language Institute at night and I later switched to a university, UAM.
What differences have you noticed between the universities here and those in Cuba?
In my home country, you know it's a Socialist country, actually it's a Communist country, then education is free. As education is free, everyone can go to a university and even though the universities are large capacity there is not enough room for everyone. So, that allows the government to be very severe with education--very hard in the acceptance of students, to be very hard on the tests-because for those students who fail it's their problem and it's good for the government too because they can get rid of them, the students that don't have the capacity for a career.
So you're saying that there are a lot of students here who don't have that capacity?
Yes, there are students in the universities here, I teach in a private university, that even though I didn't teach them before they came I know that their high school was very bad.
Then you think that there is a major problem with the education that the children are receiving in elementary and high school?
Yes, well, you can see it in the streets. You can see the public schools by the road and watch from outside. In the public school here there are not good conditions, they have no budget, so the opportunities for those kids are very few.
What is your opinion concerning the illegal aliens living in the US and the government's policy toward them?
Well really I have always thought... I was raised in the States and I could see in the time that I was there that there were not so many Cubans. There were more Puerto Ricans and people from the Dominican Republic. And even though I was a kid I observed that North America wasn't... they couldn't talk about the United States citizens or United States raised like Cubans. Cubans, we are Cubans. In the United States that's not so easy to say because the people are from Poland, Germany, Latin America and they're all mixed up. So you can't talk about a North American being one hundred percent pure. And I think that's a problem--a country has to take care of that. I'm sorry that the analogy I'm going to use now is about a crocodile, but no hard feelings, OK? In Cuba we have a beautiful crocodile--the Ron Bifel, that's the species--and we take care of it. Crocodiles from other parts, believe it or not the come from Florida because there's a part of water from Florida to Cuba that is sweet water, and these alligators--they're alligators not crocodiles--come from Florida looking for Cuban females because they're really beautiful (I'm referring to the crocodiles) and when we see that we go after the Florida alligators and try to kill them because we want to keep the female crocodiles closed so that they can only match with Cuban males because we want them to keep on being Cuban crocodiles. It happens the same with the population. We should try to have our own population. So I don't think it's good--this policy with migration.