Jon Lee Anderson: Nicaragua full of inequalities, pedophiles, capitalist clutter

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    Tim Rogers
    Tim Rogers

    Jon Lee Anderson
    Veteran journalist Jon Lee Anderson knows Latin America better than most foreign correspondents could ever hope to. He covered the Central American wars in the 1980s and then lived in Cuba for several years to write the seminal biography “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life.” In 2013, Anderson, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999, won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the most coveted international award given to journalists who cover Latin America.

    Anderson recently traveled to Nicaragua to write the feature article “The Comandante’s Canal” for the March edition of The New Yorker. It was his first trip to Nicaragua in three decades since covering the Sandinista Revolution.

    Although the same president is back in office and still preaching the virtues of socialist revolution, Anderson says it was “upsetting” to find a country that seems to have festooned its poverty and underdevelopment with a glitzy clutter of consumer capitalism. Anderson says he thinks Nicaragua has become a country of maddening inequalities between the vulnerable poor and the rapacious rich, and a tropical playground for pedophiles.

    “I hadn’t been back to Nicaragua in almost 30 years,” he said during a recent conversation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “I found Managua largely unfixed from any type of central planning since the earthquake that destroyed it in (1972). But all those vacant lots were filled in with shacks and all the major arteries of the city are completely dominated by American fast food culture, just the kind of absolute clutter of consumer capitalism at its crassest level with almost no previsions made for the average citizen — highways with no crosswalks.

    “You can see an absence of — to my mind— a caring government. And you leave the capital and its dirt roads and horses and people walking again, just like it was 30 years ago; people who can’t read and don’t earn more than a dollar or two a day — that’s over half the population.

    “And yet for foreigners who want to buy a piece of beach and a surf hut or whatever they want to do, it’s anything they want. Pedophiles can go a get 12 year olds, no problem. You can have your beachfront and you can have your kid too, you know. It was pretty upsetting, I must say, to go back to Nicaragua. And yet on the plus side it has one of the safest societies, it doesn’t have the gang cultures.”

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by Tim Rogers Tim Rogers.


    I’ve traveled many times to many parts of Nica. This is a prime example of what happens when larger and more powerful countries use places like Nica as a proxy playground. I’ve met and known many who live there and work to make Nica a better place and are honest, good, and decent people. My hope is for this beautiful place to survive and thrive as a free market society.



    This gentleman has not been in Nicaragua in thirty years, my,my my, what insight. I think that this article is an example of journalists writing for journalists. He won an award and knows Latin America better than other journalists? I doubt that very much. That speaks to the low quality of journalism these days.

    I was all over Central America thirty years ago and much has changed, in Nicaragua and other countries. Life has greatly improved for most people. If this gentleman could not see it, he must be deaf, mute and blind. Most of the people we know are middle class Nicaraguans, they own their own homes, have cars, phones and a fridge. I couldn’t say that thirty years ago. The list could go on and on. The lights are on 24/7 and hundreds of thousands of unexpected children showed up for school this year and are now in class. The list could go on and on. I deeply appreciate the road to Managua being paved, the new bridges and internet in almost every corner of the country. The list could go on and on.

    This gentleman is very biased and I won’t bother to read his coming article on the canal.
    Oh, and most people we know are not pedophiles. We travel all over the country seeing new outhouses, running water and new stoves so that families won’t have to use wood. This man hardly reflects the Nicaragua we see today. He reflects his own thinking and it is outdated. I shutter to think what he might say about Brazil.



    I have lived and worked in most of the countries in the Caribbean and Central America and have yet to see a known child molester go unpunished (Haiti being the exception). Kids here in Nicaragua can run freely around their neighborhoods unlike most western countries. If this Jon Lee would take his head out of his ass he might be able to write something factual.

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