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 in your biography that you had surgery here recently. Do you think that the medical services here are adequate to cover moderate or slightly serious conditions?
Definitely not! I compare them with hospitals in my country because in my country the problem is democracy--there is no democracy. There is no democracy at all and you have to do whatever Fidel Castro wants you to do. But it has good things and one of the good things is that you have very good hospitals, hospitals that look like hotels. For example, the lobby of the Hospital Centrobano is like the lobby of a hotel. Here, in order to keep alive, I had to beg for money--not only ask--beg and I still owe money from my heart attack.
The Arnoldo administration has stated many times that they believe that tourism is going to play a major factor in revitalizing the country. Beside tourism, they have been promoting the commercial sector and have been trying to bring in industries. What do you think--are they right to promote these non-traditional areas or should they concentrate on agriculture as they have traditionally?
Well that is a very delicate question because of several points. One point is that everyone is afraid of earthquakes. So if you get into tourism then maybe the tourists start coming but once they feel a couple of trembles they won't come again. And if they start going through the city and seeing pictures of the earthquake of 1972 like in some restaurants--I went into a Pizzeria yesterday and there were pictures of the quake all over the wall and I said to myself, "Well, if tourists come in here he won't come again to Nicaragua." Because it makes since, no, and that's one of the points that you have to see with tourists--how many times is he willing to come back and visit you again. I'm sure that a tourist who comes here and feels a couple of trembles will not come back and that is why tourism does not have a good future here. With agriculture, it's actually an agricultural country right now. With industries it's the same thing--how can you start investing in industries if you're not sure--maybe an earthquake comes and you lose all your money or maybe Daniel Ortega starts with his strikes or this and that and you lose all your money again because of strikes. And politics--there's no stability--neither in politics or in nature. It's a very dangerous country for business. I assure you that no one is going to invest their money in industries as long as Daniel Ortega is at the head of the Sandinistas and as long as they have these earthquakes--that's a terrible problem for Nicaragua.
Recognizing that the Chamorro-Alemán transfer of power represents the first peaceful democratic transfer of the presidency in the history of Nicaragua, do you believe that Nicaragua has now entered into a new era of stability in which it will annul the stigma of instability which has characterized it for the last few centuries?
No, I don't and I don't because the second party in importance here is a socialist party. Even though they say that they are not Socialist, they are. The way in which they behave--with their politics and with the way their leaders live and the way the work--announces that they are Socialist. As long as you have this, there will be no stability in Nicaragua. It doesn't matter, this change from Chamorro to Alemán, because the Socialist parties will always be there with their strikes and problems that won't allow stability.