If Nicaragua were a state ...

In the early 1800s, Central America declared independence from Spain eventually becoming the Federal Republic of Central America. This ended in 1938 but I was recalling this while reading a article titled One-Party Control Opens States to Partisan Rush in the New York Times. Fit it in with various states petitioning for independence from the US government and it offers something to think about.

What the article is talking about is that while at the national level, there is bi-partisan control of government, there is a trend for individual states to move into either the blue camp or the red camp. From the article

Though the Nov. 6 election maintained divided government in Washington, the picture is starkly different in capitals from California to Florida: one party will hold the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative chambers in at least 37 states, the largest number in 60 years and a significant jump from even two years ago.

While I see more than two tendencies in Central America, it is interesting to compare Central American countries to US states. Here in Nicaragua there is a lot of discussion of one party control. We don't, however, seem to see that as an issue in say Alaska or California.

We know people move between states and as state-level polarization increases, this certainly could become a significant reason for moves -- both by families and companies. Is the same thing happening in Central America?

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Up until the war between the

Up until the war between the states (USA), individual states did have lots of power. With the victory of federalism over states rights, much heralded in the north but so much in the South, and being dependent on federal funding, states have lost much of their prior power. As the states do not have much real power, then being one-side red or blue is not seen as important as bi-partisianship at the federal level.

I live in a stronlgy blue state, and we do see the excesses of power. Several mandates voted by the majority of the people have simply been ignored Not really democracy in action at times. I'll vote across party lines for Red candidates but mainly as an opposition to one-sided power. Checks and balances are needed at all levels

The recent pot legalizations by various USA states will be a test of states right to self determination vs federal power.

In Nicaragua, I never really got the sense of departments being a rallying point of political identity, as much as being from certain regions of Nicaragua.

I think Boaco, RAAN, and RAAS tend to be politically opposed

...to the FSLN. Jinotega is actually pretty much split down the middle -- and there are some FSLN members for the job only, having come from Contra families. One cynic I met at Laguna Apoyo said that was why Jinotega got stuff -- the FSLN couldn't count on it.

Since the election in 2011, people in town seem to wear their political beliefs more lightly, with the other party having a rally without the tension I saw at its rally last year, even to the point of trucks full of people stopping off for buying ice cream or stuff without looking nervous. That didn't happened in 2011. I've met FSLN from various class backgrounds; I've met people who hated the FSLN who were small shop keepers with kids in school in Miami.

South Carolina's version of a one party state was pretty nasty -- blacks had the brunt of it, but poor whites were pretty excluded from having opportunities and any say, either. To have opportunities, people had to move out of the communities that stereotyped them by who their families were.

I think the European multi-party system is more likely to represent different interests more fairly, but those different interests have to be willing to work for the best compromise for the whole society.

Best measure of a society that's functional is social mobility. Places that see education as a public good with results that are performance-evaluated tend to do better than places that divide their educational systems into one for the rich and another for the hands and servants.

For what the South was like just before the Civil War, I recommend the various books by Frederick Law Olmstead about his travels. Slavery did a huge amount of damage to creativity and initiative. Southern culture before the Civil War was derivative architecture, derivative painting, derivative clothing (and most of the technologies used for rice and indigo production came from Africa). The South forever has been expecting the state or foreign investors to save them. In my time there, same as Olmstead's, if only the outside would build them a highway.... This is somewhat like Nicaraguan expectations that foreigners will invest in it, and why I'm glad to see Nicaraguan rich investing in Nicaragua.

(Google Google) I'm please to say that a man from the western half of Virginia did invent the cigarette rolling machine -- his birthplace was in Roanoke, VA: James Albert Bonsack. McCormick's reaper was invented in the Shenandoah Valley. Roanoke is at the terminus of that. Neither happened before the Civil War. Most inventions seem to come from middling men and women -- not from either the very poor or the very rich.

Nicaragua was fairly polarized between the very powerful and the very powerless for centuries. The technology still comes from the outside, but at least the local kids are learning how to fix things. Maybe their children will learn how to invent better ways of doing things.

One problem isn't redness or blueness, but urban vs. rural. A friend has been explaining Eastern vs. Western. My politics were forged in the Civil Rights Era in the South, so it took me a while to see where he was coming from.

The FSLN seems like an urban party most of the time, at least in terms of the people running it. German Pomares was one of the few upper level FSLN members who came from a peasant background -- and he died. The PLI I don't know as much about but the flavor is slightly patron-based rural, small shop keeper, based on who shows up in the rally trucks and buses. A lot of the poor find it psychologically comforting to believe that their upper classes care for them. That sort of seems universal. Left politics are pretty much universally urban, where the daily visual space is collectively constructed. The farm worker either wants land of his own, or he wants a good boss who takes care of him. If he believes in his boss, he'll defend him. If not, not.

Rebecca Brown

In a nutshell the answer is No

Nicaraguans, the powerless majority, are lightyears away from having a clear view of what is really going on or at best they just ignore it. Here in Nicaragua most people live where they live not because of their politics but because that is where they make their living. This last elections, at least in Chinandega most people didn't vote, the opposition that is, since most everyone perceived the whole affair to be a sham. As many people said " we voted but we didn't elect ". Wether the investors are foreign or local doesn't really matter. A business man is all about the profit , nothing else be it Pellas or a Canadian mining company. What are we to do ? We need the jobs. Nicaragua is still very polarized between the very powerful and the very powerless. As far as I can remember we had people that learned to fix whatever technology we had. I do hope our children will learn how to invent better ways of doing things. A lot of the poor find it psychologically comforting to believe that their upper classes care for them.? I don't know about that. Most poor I know are not so kin on the rich and powerful. That great majority are so painfully ignorant about almost everything and so missinformed they are so easy to manipulate. They go around repeating what they heard from the "leaders" like parrots it is so sad. That is how it has been since forever. We Nicaraguans are either naive or slow, or so it seems. I tell you and believe me I am not the only one to think about it this way, it is just that we aren't that many, but the whole freaking thing is nothing but plain Bullshit. The Sandinistas, Ortega and Murillo were once part of that, had a great opportunity to take a whole generation of Nicaraguans and teach them to be leaders and thinkers and doers and inventors you name it. The Sandinistas couldn't do it . Whatever the reasons, valid or not, they couldn't do it, and for sure the other parties couldn't do it either. Or maybe they didn't want to, who knows, maybe it wasn't in their best interests. And Now we have Ortega and Murillo bent on creating a nation full of people that can't or won't think for themselves and follow their beck and call like a bunch of borregos. They look so smashing wearing their psychodelic t-shirts. Pretty cultish don't you think. Reminds me of another youth movement back in the early 1930's in Europe. The way we have been going about fixing our problems is laughable and enfuriating at the same time. LOTS of WORDS and not much doing. On this land for so long we have been ruled and defined by these two very Nicaraguan sayings: Muchos los diablos y muy poca el agua bendita / Too many the demons and not enough holy water and No hay nada mas peor que poner a un Indio a repartir chicha / There is nothing worse than having an Indio in charge of the drinks.

Any solution...

to how you see it?

Long version or short version?

Let me just say in general terms what we have to work with. Our political scene is completely broken. Those on top are doing the same as those before them, just enough to give an appearance of giving a damn, and those wanting the power only desperately waiting their turn to do the same. A vicious cycle if there ever was one. I hear the complaints from all sides about how things are in Nicaragua but when you tell them that all of us need to start changing our attitudes and stop harping endlessly about who's done what or not and instead get our heads together and come up with solutions that will benefit everybody, not just one side, the finger pointing and blame game goes off. There is a small sector that could care less who's in charge as long as things are done as honestly and openly as posible. It is hard to give your blind trust after having been burned for so long so many times. I keep going back to Education. It isn't that I expect everybody to become full fledged doctors, architects and so forth. I mean basic education on the least. I'll give an example or two of the many that I've witnessed just this past week. There are this two 11 yo kids that go to the school I am volunteering at. One of them happens to live on the same block as me. The other spends the entire afternoon along with his not much older brother waiting for their grandparents to finnish work at the mercado to go home. A merchant that likes to flaunt his money around rents the wharehouse next to my house and he takes this two kids and pays them 10 cordobas a piece to fight each other for his amusement and his workers' too. I had a little talk with him and he politely told me he didn't see any harm being done. He takes one of the kids along with some of his workers on his truck during school hours to unload whatever he is dellivering on his truck for a few pesos. The kid is being raised by his 20 yo sister that already has a 4yo of her own. Their mother is in Panama. I seriously doubt this kid will finnish elementary school. NO formal education of any kind but that of the streets provided by the likes of thugs and drunks, all no older than 20 themselves and a few older guys that don't know any better or could care less. On Saturdays I go to a little town called La Bolsa to teach English to 5 kids, ages 7 to 9. The brother of one of the girls came by one day and was standing by the door. I invited him to join us and he refused the invitation. The next Saturday his aunt told me that the boy told his mom that he didn't want to go to school anymore. Give me my machete and let me go work on the fields. His mom said if that's what he wants she won't say no. He is only 9. The mom is only 22yo. Our governments don't pay, and haven't paid much attention to our youth. Our Youth as Dario said Juventud divino tesoro / Youth divine treasure, has been and is being wasted. No education being taught at home and those that go to school are receiving an education that is so behind is frightening to think what or how they are going to manage higher grades and what kind of profesionals those that manage to stay in school will become. But that is not the saddest part. I've come to know nearly 400 kids on the almost 2 months and I can tell you there are about 5 to 10 kids on every grade that show potential and want to learn so bad you can almost touch it. I offered those kids to continue during the vacations the classes 3 times a week for an hour and those I expected to say yes did say yes and a couple that I wasn't expecting did too. So can you imagine if we could take all of those kids that want to learn and invest in them and to those that are on the fence show them that they can also aim for something better if they are willing to give a try we will be there to help them . I only have a high school diploma and yet dream of a better life, society and world and along with the little english I can teach them I try to make this kids dream for themselves of a better world were they can have the tools to make their dreams and the dreams of others a reality. We need to invest in our YOUTH. With clarity, honesty, unbiased and without ulterior motives. It is time for us the adults to start acting as such instead of acting as a bunch of spoiled mocosos. For their sake and our own.

Same could be said for a lot of countries...

"5 to 10 kids in every grade that show potential and want to learn so bad you can almost touch it"

Nicaragua is not that special when it comes to that comment.

IMO its all relative and in most case appropriate.

What is Nicaragua or the US/Canada etc doing with all its better educated people?

The guy at Home Depot will not only tell you where the copper pipe is, he will explain the process of making it and could design the factory that did.

I suggest that the state sponsored education in Nicaragua is at a level that is appropriate for its current and immediate future economy?

The 5 to 10 kids in every grade will be the entrepreneurs that hire the other kids in the class.

I agree with this

What got my dad out of the tobacco fields was a community that did invest in education, and a country that provided ways for bright kids like him to go to college (mix of federal works project money and a loan from an uncle), then the GI Bill took him to graduate school. I keep wondering where the FSLN scholarships are for young people like my friend who fixed a digital camera and who wants so badly to study in the US. But he does have a university in town to go to.

My neighbors are obviously ambitious for their daughter.

The advantage of you doing the supplemental teaching is that you're Nicaraguan. Too often, teachers who aren't part of or from the local culture aren't seen as quite real. I was only a role model for my white Appalachian students. For black students, I was a white person to practice talking to white people. That wasn't nothing and was going to help them, but not the same way.

Me, I got drafted into working with this one college kid, and see that I'll be drafted into helping with the neighbors' child's English. The little girl at two is beginning to understand that I speak another language than the Spanish her parents have been teaching her. A kid who figure out how to draft adults here for language lessons could pick up German, Russian, and English, maybe even Mandarin or Cantonese if the Chinese people here retained their great grandparent's language (I've heard they didn't and are now monolingual Spanish-speaking).

Very desperately poor people anywhere don't tend to look beyond survival today. Once they're beyond that, they start looking ahead beyond tomorrow. Some interventions to help can make things worse (insisting that "sub-standard" but cheap houses be torn down and replaced with cleaner but more expensive housing, for example).

Rebecca Brown

" ..Very desperately poor people ...

....don't tend to look beyond survival today".

So true, lives of quiet desperation . . . the distance of the cost of a medication for their child from heartbreak.

But the children, especially the poor ones, still dream big.

What is the one thing that Nicaraguan children COULD learn that would get them a job and move them into a different world?

HINT: Pellas (and anyone else investing in upscale Nicaraguan tourism) is going to be looking for these people.

HINT #2: CR is full of them --(and has quite a few $500 /night resorts as well).

Actually, studies show that children tend to be realists

... in what they dream. My dad's family was not brutally poor, and his mother had some family who'd been to college, one who ran a beer and liquor distillery when that was legal who had serious enough money, so he got encouragement to stay in high school and plan to go at least to a two year school, but his dream was to become a bookkeeper. Kin encouraged him to go to Virginia Tech rather than the two year business program.

I don't think my friend here is interested in learning better English to work front desk at a hotel. He's already doing that with the English he has. He wants to be an engineer. I don't know what the ambitions the neighbors have for their daughter, but wouldn't be surprised if they weren't along the lines of doctor or lawyer, maybe international banking at some level (mom works in a bank). Speaking English would be useful for those, and would pay a whole lot better than hotel jobs (owning a hotel would be different).

Hotel jobs are what kids do when they're working their way through college. Your need is not their dream. One kid here went to San Juan del Sur to become a bartender and came back to Jinotega after two months.

One of my brother's observations was that in very poor parts of the US, the McDonald's and other fast food jobs were held by adults. In more prosperous areas, by young adults. By that rule of thumb, Jinotega is fairly prosperous.

Most people who fantasize about teaching English here don't know how long it takes anyone to become fluent in a foreign language (six years for most of us, not that we won't have useable skills before then). Many people study some and when they don't magically end up fluent in a year, they stop studying. Some people can become fluent in less than six years, but it's not the way to plan your educational curriculum. Jinotega has an English Center, and another school for elementary aged children. Fluent English or even useful English isn't going to be here next year or the year after that. The fluent English speakers here lived in the US for over a decade as children in American schools.

If I were going to teach adolescent or adult beginners with no prior lessons in English, I'd study TESL teacher education material and find appropriate texts to use. At the college where I used to work, the people who worked with people whose native tongue wasn't English did have training. I had some training but not enough to qualify me for teaching those students in the TESL classes.

People who don't know what they're doing are more likely to convince students that they can't learn the language than to help them. I can spot language interference patterns and talk to students about what their language does and what English does differently, or how translation of some words is tricky because the concepts are used metaphorically in English, but not in Farsi. I know enough to know what I don't know.

Rebecca Brown

Dont worry its being done.

When the jobs are there, they will have enough English speaking staff.