Category Archives: Letters to Nicaragua

Letter from the U.S.

Periodically, I have written letters between the U.S. and Nicaragua through two made-up pen pals.  The correspondence is intended to reflect the views that a U.S. citizen might have about his/her own country, as well as Nicaragua.  What follows is the latest of these, a response to a letter from Nicaragua on July 1.

Hola Roberto!

Thank you very much for your last letter.  My whole family enjoyed hearing from you and hearing that you are safe.  Like you, we have had some very heavy storms here in our part of the country.  The rains have not really affected the crops very much, but there has been some flooding in towns close to rivers.  You know all about that!  I remember the stream that flows down the hillside near your home and how it swelled during the heavy rains that fell during my visit a few years ago!

I read with interest every day about the confrontations in Nica.  Mostly we are getting our information from La Prensa, since the U.S. news outlets provide very little coverage of events in Nica.  I am really sad to learn of police shooting citizens who are protesting.  Here, there is usually no worry about the police unless maybe you are African American or Hispanic.  Don’t worry- if you ever come for a visit we’ll make sure you are safe with us!

I am disappointed to hear of the allegations made against the president of your country.  I don’t know whether he has told the truth about the latest violence against the protesters.  We do know here what it is like to have an elected leader who lies.  Our current president tells lies or misrepresentations most of the time.  At one of his campaign rallies, he made 98 statements and 76% of them were either false or misleadingThe Washington Post newspaper has counted up more than 3,000 lies told in 500 days.  So we know what it feels like to have a leader who says whatever suits him.  The good news is that the press reports on it and the people get to decide what they believe.

I am particularly sad about the deaths of so many young people there.  I have met so many wonderful people, just like you, with beautiful families and loving homes.  To think that even one of these has been torn apart by violence is hard to imagine.  Maybe you have heard about some Nicaraguan families being separated by the U.S. Border patrol at the Mexican border.  The difference here is that the children are mostly young- under age 15- which makes the separation almost as hard as what you have experienced.  But each one of us is somebody’s son or daughter, so the pain is universal.  I hope that the killing stops.

You asked me about human rights in this country and whether the U.S. is somehow less interested in them than before.  I cannot say for sure, because of course I am not involved in making policy.  I know that I still care about it.  But the politicians end up doing whatever suits their own interests, which is why I haven’t even voted in recent years.  It’s not like I have any voice.  I think we still care about rights, but I don’t know.  What organization was it that the U.S. dropped out of?  I did not hear about that.  But I have read that our president continuously asked his top advisers about overthrowing Venezuela’s president to stop the growing problems that his leadership of that country has created.  I think maybe that has to do with human rights there, but I’m not sure.

I can’t imagine another war in Nicaragua!  It’s too hard to think about the people I’ve met and the beautiful places I’ve seen being in the middle of bombs and guns.  And all the great shopping markets, like at Masaya.  I don’t think a civil war will happen, do you?  What would you do?  I think I agree with your brother, that the conflict is mostly in Managua and some of the other big cities.  Getting involved could be dangerous!  And would you really want to fight?  In the end, I always feel like things will work out the way they’re meant to be.

I would love to come back to Nicaragua for a visit!  I hope that things settle down there and that you can get back to selling your harvest without any trouble.  Do you know anything about NAFTA?  I was going to ask you if were affected by it.  Our president thinks it’s really hurting the U.S. and he wants to re-do the agreement.  I suppose that would not be good for you, but maybe Nicaragua has been benefitting from it for a long time and it should be evened out.  Oh well, I just wondered.

Our family thinks of you often and wishes you peace and prosperity.  I hope you will write to us again.

Your friend,





A U.S. Voice

Last week I offered here an imagined letter from a Nicaraguan peasant-producer to us in the United States.  In it, I tried to articulate some of the observations and feelings a struggling Nicaraguan might  have about our holiday season and some of the traditions which have become so much a part of the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Upon reflection, I decided that the letter deserved a response from an “average” North American, generally unfamiliar with Nicaragua.  It would be impolite to disregard a friendly letter embedded with so many questions.  

I thank you for your letter from Nicaragua!  It’s always exciting to receive letters from people in other countries; we have enjoyed looking up Nicaragua and reading something about your country.  I’m sorry to admit that, even though Nicaragua is so close to the United States geographically, we know very little about your country and, especially, the U.S. history there.  I’m a little confused about why the U.S. has been such a difficult presence for Nicaraguans over the years.  I hope that all of that is now a distant memory!  Or do you still find that our country presents problems for Nicaragua?

I am writing this letter on an island which is located on Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world!  We are located very close to the Canadian border, so the weather here is quite cold, with snow in the air every day for the past week.  So it is difficult for some to think about global warming during a period like this!  I think cold weather like this is the reason for some people to doubt the reality of climate change.  But probably a bigger reason is that if climate change is real, then many businesses and individuals will be faced with the need to make big changes in their everyday lives.  It’s less complicated to do things the way we are used to doing them rather than face something as enormous as changing earth temperatures.  We might be pushing the problem off to our children and grandchildren, but by then maybe someone will have discovered a solution.  I’m sorry to hear about the effects that you are experiencing already.  Would it be possible for you to move to a better location?

We really love your coffee!  Almost everyone in our family drinks coffee and our favorite is from Nicaragua.  Maybe we even have some that might have been grown on your farm!  That would be exciting to know.  All I know is that the package says organically-grown and sold through something called fair trade.  I think that means you growers receive most of the money for the coffee.  Does organic and fair trade make a big difference to you?   We also like it because it’s so inexpensive for us to buy compared to some other coffees.

Yes, we are now done with our election season, thank goodness.  Nobody liked either candidate running for President in this cycle, which really makes us very nervous.  We might have even been better off with only one candidate, like you had!  Like your President Ortega, our President-Elect is one who makes outrageous statements, whether they are true or not.  It sounds like you know what you can expect from President Ortega; I don’t know what to expect from the President-Elect.  For maybe the first time ever, many people here are questioning whether our democratic process is really working, since our election was so full of misinformation and fighting.  You say that our democracy is older than yours, but sometimes as we become older we have ailments that begin to occur.

Our holiday season is at full-speed now!  The stores are full of shoppers and there are many parties and special productions to honor the season.  Yes, we eat more than we should during the season, but it seems to be a way to celebrate our way of life and all of its blessings.  The “Black Friday” events that you have seen on news programs seems to be a little less crazy this year; some stores even decided not to open on Thanksgiving Day.  But the stores were all filled with buyers on the day after Thanksgiving.  Many people are preferring to buy gifts online.  I read in the newspaper that almost $100 billion will be spent online this year.  Do you have Internet?

In answer to your question about celebrating the birth of Jesus, the answer is that many do still observe it in churches and in their homes.  More and more public locations forbid it because it is a religious expression that might offend others who are not Christian. It seems strange to me that celebrating the birth of Jesus is offensive to the public and not allowed when there are so many other expressions made out loud that are permitted as “free speech.”  But Christmas here in the U.S. is mostly a secular holiday now, so it’s hard to make rules against it.  I guess some people just struggle with beliefs that are different from their own.  Your tradition of La Purisima sounds beautiful, but I think it might not be allowed in our country because of possible interference with the public.  I’ll have to travel to Nicaragua to experience it!

I have really enjoyed our exchange of letters.  I’ve never had the chance to write to someone in another country.  It has made me think about our two cultures and the way we live.  I think that maybe you have a less hectic life and one that is more focused on important things.  Do you agree?  Sometimes I wonder if a simpler life is a much better way of living.   You have probably chosen wisely in the way that you live!

I hope that I may hear from you again in the future.  Maybe you can write the next letter in English and I won’t need to find a translator!

Best wishes,

P.S.  I have enclosed $20 as a help to you and your family.