A few disasters, natural and otherwise, have reared up around the Occidente this week, each affecting my projects. I’ve written before about the incidence of disasters here and the vulnerability of the population. Luckily, so far these have been minor and there have been no deaths, but they nevertheless have a large negative impact on the local population.
First, turn your attention to the beach community of Poneloya, where an abnormally large swell has left the beach closed for the entire week. Apparently the Pacific has been temperamental from Chile to Mexico (probably in protest of Bernie Sanders declaring his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination and his opposition to the TPP). The news has been focusing on the damage to beach side structures (chances that these small fry-stand owners have insurance: slim to none) and the inability of fishermen to head out the sea. Today I was in Poneloya for some business advising work with a fish processing cooperative (a cooperative whose name is a memorial to the victims of a 1991 tsunami), and not many of my normal participants showed up. The reason, I learned, is something that the news is not covering. Poneloya doesn’t have the best waters for fishing anymore, so many of the fisherman head north, to the beaches of Chinandega, such as Corinto. However, they access these waters through a protected channel. That channel has been filled with sand this week from the swell, so all of the fishermen are out there trying to dredge it out.
Two other of my regular participants at Poneloya work with the Red Cross. And today, they were out of town at another serious situation, not far from León. There is a large mining town 20 or 30 km from León known as Mina El Limón. An American company has a gold mine there. I’ve been to Mina once to visit an entrepreneurship teacher. It is an extremely remote town. At the time I went the road was pretty much non-existent. We had to cross some questionable bridges as well as simply ford some rivers, Oregon Train-style. Despite being close to León, it is a 2.5 hr bus ride.
Since 2009 the mining company has been providing free electricity to everyone in the town. That was until this year, when they started cutting it. Things came to a head this week, when mine workers and townspeople blocked the entrance to the mine, and a pitched battle broke out with the police.
Lastly, I’d like to draw your attention to the smoldering pit of Earth that I highlighted on Monday – Telica, which is known as the most active volcano in Nicaragua. So active, in fact, that it had a minor eruption over the last two days. I spoke with a counterpart who was there today, and he assured me that so far things are fine in Aguas Frías and Ojostal del Leston. If Telica’s indigestion doesn’t get any worse, I will be there on Monday too for another session with the tourism cooperative.
By the way, I’m waiting to write up a full blog post on my work at Poneloya and Telica until I get a further into things. My work in both communities is very similar, but I don’t want to draw any premature conclusion. Stay tuned for a blog post within the next month if you are interested.
Nicaraguan news articles on the incidents: