Finding the green in Nicaragua: Part 3
Nicaragua's social turmoil makes it difficult to focus on environmental concerns.
Monday, November 22, 2010 - 17:25
GLOBAL ODYSSEY: An example of external help in Nicaragua's environmental movement. (Photo courtesy Global Odyssey)
In the states, it's easy to fight against the things you believe are wrong; we have rights, a voice and the ability to spark movements to resist ideas that could put us and the environment in harm. In Nicaragua, these options are much more limited.
With the majority of the country living on less than $1 a day, many are fighting to make ends meet, while those living in the cities are embarking in business adventures that could hold a promise for their futures and their employees'. These differing standpoints, along with a history of social turmoil that has left environmental concerns and development behind that of other Latin American countries, and a turbulent political base which has recently included skewed interpretations of the Constitution, have not made the process any easier. And this country, which is so beautiful and full of environmental glories in the form of volcanoes, beaches, lakes and forests, is left scrambling to protect one of its most promising assets.
There is a saying here that everyone runs on "Nica time." At first I thought it really just meant that everyone is late (which they are), but after spending the past four months here I have learned that it represents a mindset more than the lack of physical timing. Things will get done when everything falls into place.
This way of thinking, though, may just be the reason why the environmental movement has garnered little attention. I've only seen recycling baskets once during my whole time here, at the German-Nicaraguan school that my host brothers attend. Although I was excited to see them, people paid little attention to what went where, and thus the baskets resulted in little purpose. The lack of knowledge about the importance of their planet is invisible to the tourist unless you visit an eco-friendly lodge or other such standout that is based on tourism and usually run by ex-pats. And the presence of any environmental awareness at school (at least the one I go to) is nonexistent.
Education is a key factor in helping a country grow — either to get out of poverty or to better itself environmentally, economically and so forth. Some things have popped up in Nicaraguan Spanish newspapers highlighting small groups that are fighting to end climate change or improve environmental ethics, but more needs to happen. There needs to be focus and emphasis in schools on ways to be sustainable, and although Nicaragua is slowly realizing some of its potential, it has to replace running on Nica time with focus and determination, so that it can meet problems of poverty and environmental missteps simultaneously.
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