February 25, 2011
If the political situation of Nicaragua could be paralleled to a medical emergency room code, it would be a Code Green: internal disaster, with little hope of resuscitation at the present moment. It’s dire.
The country is led under the clenched-fisted rule of the Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, who from what I understand runs the country as a mob boss runs his posse: rewarding those closest to him with things like cows, medical care, and water supplies, while punishing those on the bottom of the hierarchy with a lack of, well…everything. Today was our first day at the Tepeyac clinic near the outskirts of Grenada and between the bars on the clinic’s window, I could make out a small building which you would kindly call a house, but more appropriately was a shack. There, in the run-down dwelling resided seven people all under the same roof in a bedroom just big enough for two beds, an old TV, and cardboard boxes, which served as dressers for all their clothing. The young mother, barely 21-years-old already has three children who cling to her tender waist. This girl, who was almost the same age as I, told me about how the government didn’t allow them to have anything, and that although she and her people knew the depravity of their condition, there was little they could do. What’s more, with the upcoming presidential elections, by law Ortega is unable to run for another term. However his government is scurrying to try and alter the constitution so that he remains in power, ensuring his continuing rule over the country at the expense of the impoverished. It is a bleak situation that the people of Nicaragua face. What a weighty realization it is to know that at the end of this trip, after the last patient has been diagnosed, the last clinic door closed, and the final suitcase packed up, we will return home to a land where our freedoms are guaranteed, our rights ensured, and our voices heard above the clamor of our other fellow Americans. And meanwhile, these people – the men who sit quietly in plastic folding chairs for hours on end just to potentially see the first doctor they’ve seen in years, the women who speak with tender voices of “mi amor” to their little ones, and the children who hang from windows and have the quickest of smiles – these Nicaraguans, although their physical maladies may be cured, still have to endure the long and unending ache of a country plagued with political strife, with no quick diagnosis in sight…