Those who know me know that I went to Nicaragua last year on a study abroad program with MSU. If you follow the news you would know that Nicaragua voted today. The following is an email sent by Dr. Gerald Urquhart, who led our trip last year, to all of us who participated.
Today marks the return of hope to Nicaragua, with the FSLN's victory in the 2006 presidential elections. Daniel Ortega won because of the Nicaraguan poor, so disenfranchised during the recent regimes that they found Daniel their only help. Some of the estimates were that 30 out of the 38% of the vote he got came from the extremely poor (about 75% of his votes).
Although the FSLN has many negatives, I think they will do much more for the poor than the previous regimes. Neoliberalism does nothing directly to help the poor, and its "trickle down" really flows in reverse. Over the next couple years we will have to wade through the propaganda from both the US and the Leftist South to see if things actually improve. For now Nicaragua will be added to the list of Rogue Nations and Ortega, Chavez and Castro will be portrayed as looters, dictators, or worse. Coming from the Bush-led US, it's like the pot calling the porcelain bowl black.
Oddly, Vietnam and China are tearing up the global economy, but Nicaragua's elected government will likely be ostracized immediately from global economics. Wealthy Nicarguans are rightly worried about incredible inflation under Ortega, which might become a reality if the World Bank and IMF reject the FSLN govt or vice versa. Ortega is probably going to have to continue paying the IMF and following Neoliberal structural adjustment to avoid getting into a cash-flow problem and not having anyone to turn to. I guess if Ortega rejects the IMF, we'll see how far Chavez's charity can go toward saving an economy.
El Che called for a United [Leftist] Americas as the only way for Latin America to move forward. His dream is becoming a reality, now let's see if it really helps the little guy.
Hasta la victoria siempre! (with guarded optimism)
Gerald R. Urquhart Ph.D.
Lyman Briggs School of Science
Here are some pictures from BBC of voting today...
Nicaraguans go to polls
And if you want to see some pictures from our trip...
A Week in the Jungle Pt. 1
A Week in the Jungle Pt. 2