Category Archives: Letters to the U.S.

Letter from Nicaragua

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

Mi Amigo:

Greetings from Nicaragua!  I hope that this letter finds you in good health and happiness; may God bless you with His enduring love.  I have not seen you now for many months so I will be pleased to receive any word you might send in response to this letter.  My family is in good health and our farm is producing well, though the heavy rains and recent violence have given us worry.

Of greatest worry is the state of our country.  You may be reading about the protests and demonstrations which have happened, and the government’s reaction.  The violence which has happened seems to be every night and reports of more deaths reach us in the countryside each day.  These are happening mostly in the cities, but we have had some troubles here with young people in cars yelling bad things.  We don’t know if the violence will spread but it makes us worry.

It is hard to know what is happening for real.  Some outside people have come here and said that our president has told lies.  Many people within Nicaragua have said so, too.  But the president and his people say that it is the protesters who have lied and that the violence comes from them.  Sometimes it is very confusing, these different statements that are made.  My son gave to me a report from a group called Amnesty International; maybe you have heard of them.  They were not supportive of our president.  They said that he has told lies.  But he is our president and it is hard to believe that a leader would openly do that.

I think in your country you have had some problems like this with your president, no?  We read here about some of the untrue things he says (like when he was elected and said that the number of people to watch him was the biggest ever) and I wonder how you react to them.  Is it OK for North Americans speak out about these?  Is it your duty?  I am very uncertain here.

What I do know is that there are families that have been torn apart by the government’s policies.  In some cases there have been arrests and even kidnappings and no answers about what has happened to the  people taken.  There have been more than 200 killed so far, mostly young people from the universities.  There are many mothers and fathers who are deep in grief.  I don’t know if I believe that university students have shot and killed one another, as the government claims.  But if they did not, then who did?

My brotherAlfredo has a nearby farm.  He says that what is happening in Managua and other large cities is nothing to do with us, that it is the university students and Daniel, and that we should not get involved.  He says this will all go away in time and things will go back to normal.  He does not want to get involved because maybe the party would do something to get even.  He thinks there is not much happening in our part of the country.  But twice we have had a hard time to get our harvests into the city to sell, with the roads being barricaded.  I have a small loan through the cooperative and I must be able to pay it back in order to receive a new one.  So these events are creating some problems.

The protestors are saying that the government has violated their rights and that is why they continue to protest.  I would like to ask you about human rights in your country.  I have read that the U.S. stopped being a member of a human rights organization that is world-wide.  Is that true?  Does this mean that the U.S. is no longer interested in what other countries do?  And does it no longer care what other countries think about its eagerness to support things like what are happening here?  I think this must be disappointing to the people here who have taken to the streets.

My hope is that there will not be another war.  Our country still feels the wounds of the revolution and the Contra War.  Maybe we are still a very poor country but at least we have been at peace.  But maybe there has been a price for that which now is being paid.  I know that you have planned to travel here once again and I would be happy with your visit.  But I know that this might be difficult at this time.  Do not forget that Nicaragua is not just the ones in authority, but mostly made up of good, peaceful people.

Meanwhile, I will send to you wishes for your health and that of your family!

Un abrazo grande,



America First

Back in December, I posted here an imagined letter from a Nicaraguan to an acquaintance in the U.S.  The letter was wide-ranging in its topics, a general missive of introduction and inquiry, curiosity and clarification.  It generated an equally-imaginary response just days later from an equally-imagined person in the U.S.    Now our Nicaraguan  “imaginary friend” has written again, with an interesting perspective for those of us in the North.

Buenas dias, mi amigo!

I did not write back to you since December because we have been very busy with the farm.  We do the last of the coffee harvest now.  We also have been working with a research man here in Nicaragua who has been teaching us about changing and improving our farms, with many interesting ideas.  One example is completing a family investment plan (FIP), which is a very complete look at all of the aspects of our producer lives.  The exercise is very detailed and asks us questions about our farms, our families, our futures, everything.  Every member of our family has been helping with this.  So I have not been able to respond to you during these days.

I have wanted to ask you some questions about many of the stories we have heard recently.  During your election, we have heard many times  the call for “America First.”  Some of the people who live in our area became very excited when they first heard this.  They believe that your president intends to help the people in all of Centro America and Sud America!  As Americans, we can hardly believe it, but this what your president has said.

But there are others who say that he did not mean this at all.  The president of our administrative council says that he meant only the United States and that he was going to become even more demanding of other countries to help his people even more.  I told our cooperative members that the U.S. president would not have said “Americans” if he meant just U.S.  I reminded him that we are Americans and that we were Americans even before the U.S.  Many agreed with me but said this is not the way the U.S. president thinks of us.

Then I reminded him about the other saying that is used, “Make America Great Again.”  I told my friends that this was proof that the U.S. president meant us.  The United States has always been a great country of power and money, so there would be no need to become “great again.”  If he meant only U.S., then he would say “greater.”

The U.S. president said that he did not like the CAFTA agreement and that it was a terrible deal.  Of course, we in Nicaragua agree with that!  It has only benefitted the producers in the North.  We are hopeful that it might be considered again to be more fair.  I do not believe that the U.S. president thinks that CAFTA is bad for him, so he must be thinking of us, no?

In Nicaragua, we have lived through many actions from the U.S. that hurt our country and all of Centro America.  It is partly why many of our young people have decided to move away and find a better opportunity.  It seems to us that your president knows this and sees that past policies have not been fair.  Maybe he knows that our countries were once great, too, and now is the time to make them great again.  I hope that is how he thinks to end illegal immigration to his country.

I try to read articles that will explain these stories but it is very hard to understand what the new U.S. policies will be.  So I hope you can write to me and explain what you think is going to happen.  We believe in “America First” and making “America Great Again,” but maybe we don’t understand?

In two weeks we attend another workshop to learn more about the FIP and other tools to help us produce better harvests.  I will ask these questions then but I hope you will write to me with your thinking.

Adios, Su amigo Nicaraguense

I’m not sure whether a response to my Nicaraguan friend will help much in his understanding of evolving policy in the U.S.  Most of it does not make much sense to us in the North, either.  Meanwhile, I was sent a link to YouTube, copied  here, which puts into visual form what our Nica friend was trying to say.  We are not the only Americans, or even the first….






Another Voice

The following is an imagined letter from a rural farmer in Nicaragua to those of us in the developed North.  During this holiday time of year in the North, I have wondered how a peasant producer might regard our practices at Thanksgiving and Christmas, in light of realities of many in the global South to exist on less than $2 a day.  

I bring you warm greetings from Nicaragua!  I say warm greetings not only for saludos! but also because the temperatures here have been very warm, especially for this time of year.  Do you have high temperatures in the North?  We know that climate change is happening everywhere, but it seems like maybe it is worse for our countries in CentroAmerica.  They say that many of you do not think that it is real, but I do not believe that.

Our rainfall was plentiful this year.  In most areas it was satisfactory, but in other regions it was too much and the extra rainfall has hurt our plantings.  We are worried about this because in addition to the wet conditions, we are very concerned about the markets.  We have been discouraged by what we are told the markets will pay.  Also, now the so-called “free market” and the policy of CAFTA (do you know this agreement?) will include farm products with prices that make it impossible for small producers like me to compete.  With or without the rains, I am worried that our harvest cannot be sold at a good price.  I think this CAFTA may be a good thing for you in Estados Unidos, but it has created problems for my family.

Like you, we have just completed an election season!  My son is there in your country.  He is a laborer in North Dakota in the oil fields there.  He tells me that he thinks the election here in Nicaragua has brought a sadness to our people because the candidates did not tell the truth and there was much bitterness.  He said that people there do not know much about our elections, but that they don’t know much about their own, either.  Is it true that half of your people did not vote?  We also have difficulties here.  We are told that 60% of Nicaraguans voted, but most of us don’t believe that number.  President Ortega was really the only candidate. Sometimes he says some outrageous things and many cannot support that.  But our democracy is not as old as yours and we are still trying to become better.   Do you like Mr. Trump?

We are able to see that you have begun your holiday festivals now.  On the television I watched your Giving-thanks day, with all of the food that you have and big roasted birds!  It looks like an enjoyable feast.  I was wondering if all of the food gets eaten by each family.  We have our festivals and celebrations, of course, but the food is not nearly so plentiful as what I have seen in pictures.    For many of us in Nicaragua, it would be hard to imagine so much food at one time!

One thing that I don’t understand is what you have called viernes negro, or “Black Friday,” which really seems to begin on your Giving-thanks day.  If your Giving-thanks day is a time for your family to be together and give thanks, why is that demonstrated by leaving the home to do buying?  Maybe buying more things is one of your ways of being thankful?  This year, I have heard that “Black Friday” happened in some stores here.  We have some U.S. stores here who started to do it.  But for most of us, buying is for satisfying a need that we have.  It looks like in the United States that buying is more of an activity all by itself, and one that you do even when you do not have an actual need.  My son says that it is a psychological need that you have, that you do even more of it when there is a crisis, to make you feel better.  I remember that this was your way of coping with the terrible 9/11 incident.

We are soon to see the first of our festivities before Christmas. In several days we begin “La Purisima” or as my son translates it,  the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary.  Many thousands of young people in the country sing as loudly as they can and go from house to house to sing hymns honoring the Virgin Mary.   In small towns like where I live there is an old custom of the Catholic Church organizing a parade. The priest goes around the town with a number of performers imitating people from the Bible and enacting the birth of Jesus Christ. Many people view this parade with great devotion.
Do you still celebrate the birth of Jesus or is your holiday more about buying?  My son tells me that in some places you cannot even celebrate Jesus in public but I do not believe that could be true at Christmas!

I have enjoyed writing to you!  I hope that my letter is not boring or irritating.  I have never been to your country and do not know it too well.  I would like to come there and see Disney World.  Also the Statue of Liberty.  It would be difficult for that to happen, so maybe you will come here to visit.  We do not have as many things as you, but we have beautiful land and our hearts are open to you….

Adios, Su amigo Nicaraguense