Nicaragua Follows Its Own Path In Dealing With Drug Traffickers : Parallels : NPR

The Management Of Crime

On the surface, it seems like the Nicaraguan government is doing quite a bit to fight the drug war and that Bluefields is a place of perdition. But reality is more complicated.

Cocaine’s Influence on Nicaragua’s Miskito Coast

Nicaragua — the largest country in Central America — has a lengthy coastline on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With its remote location, Bluefields is well placed to serve as a pit stop along the corridor where drugs travel from the South American producers to U.S. consumers. What’s more, the cocaine moving through Nicaragua’s territory represents a higher share of GDP than any other Central American country, which in the words of the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime, should give traffickers greater leverage to both sow more corruption and foment violence. Instead, like the rest of Nicaragua, Bluefields is an outlier. For instance, its murder rate is relatively low. According to numbers compiled by the Mexican think tank The Citizen Council for Public Security and Penal Justice, San Pedro Sula in Honduras is the murder capital of the world with a homicide rate of 169 intentional homicides per 100,000 people; Belize City has a murder rate of 105. According to Nicaraguan government data, Bluefields has a homicide rate of 42 — just a touch lower than that of Detroit.

Source: Nicaragua Follows Its Own Path In Dealing With Drug Traffickers : Parallels NPR

About the Approach to Drug Trafficking in Nicaragua

The money quote: “Nicaragua administers, manages its organized crime,”

This is the best article I’ve found describing the approach Nicaragua takes to the so-called “drug war” and it makes all the sense in the world to me now. When I first learned about this approach to Drug Trafficking from Nicaragua Insiders, it sounds so wrong to someone raised up on the typical propoganda! When I heard:

“Because in Nicaragua, there is only one mafia,” Orozco says. “And that mafia controls the entire national territory.”

When asked who that mafia is, Orozco laughs nervously, delivering a roundabout answer before finally saying, “When I say that Nicaragua manages organized crime, I mean that the business deals are made with representatives from the state.”

In other words, Nicaragua essentially regulates the drug trade.

To understand this better, one can look at the results, which show that in comparison with Mexico and the other Central American countries, Nicaragua has maintained a low level of violent crime. So if it works, who are we to judge? As always, comments welcome!


Granada Colonial Homes Tour | See behind all of those mysterious doors!

Tours meet every Tuesday at 10 am in the art center behind the Ole Boutique (side entrance):
1 block east of the Central Park down Calzada Blvd.   

Or, call in Nicaragua: 8457-8423, to arrange special tours

Behind Closed Doors……


Take a great tour of the insides of some of the finest homes in Granada, while benefitting a wonderful education project!

Take a great tour of the insides of some of the finest homes in Granada, while benefitting a wonderful education project!

If you’ve been lucky enough to have participated in one of the colonial house tours in cities such as San Miguel De Allende, Mexico, you know how amazing old colonial houses can be. Finally, Granada has begun tours of its magnificent beauties and all the proceeds benefit educational projects.

via Granada Colonial Homes Tour | See behind all of those mysterious doors!.

Friend of the Farmstay and social media guru, Eden Rudin posted this on Facebook, so in a spirit of helping out for this project, I repost here for our readers who may not be aware of this tour. Other colonial architecture cities and towns around the world like Antigua, Guatemala, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and others offer similar tours, so why not Granada too?

If you’ve ever been to Granada and wondered what is behind those lovely, massive colonial doors, and yearned for a peek into the interior spaces, this is your chance! A great added benefit is that this isn’t for anyone’s profit. The proceeds go to two different educational projects:

  • Library “Puedo Leer”, the first lending library in Granada, putting books in the hands of children and promoting reading through its many urban and rural projects.
  • Scholarships for poor children at the new Sacuanjoche Elementary School, probably the best private school in the city. 

So if you book a tour, tell them that you found out about this via Mike at Farmstay El Portón Verde, Managua.


Insider’s Guide to Nicaraguan Surfing: San Juan del Sur Edition

Insider’s Guide to Nicaraguan Surfing: San Juan del Sur Edition

Intro and General tips


In this first-ever edition of the Insider’s Guide to Nicaraguan Surfing, we’ll focus like the veritable laser beam on the surfing scene around San Juan del Sur (SJdS). SJdS is the number one Pacific coast location for visitors to Nicaragua. It is a fun little town set in a beautiful bay. If you are interested in going surfing when in SJdS, here are some tips for you:


The bay at San Juan del Sur

The bay at San Juan del Sur


  • There is usually no surf whatsoever in the bay of San Juan. Sometimes during the rainy season it is so stormy elsewhere that there are some surfable waves in the bay.
  • However (and especially so in the rainy season from May-October), as a Nicaraguan Insider, I can recommend that you DON’T GO IN THE WATER if surfing with high levels of fecal coliform bothers you (or your health) at all. The sewage system in the town is imperfect at best, and as we all know **it flows downhill, right to the drains and outflow pipes leading to the bay.

    Muddy beach near San Juan del Sur

    Muddy beach near San Juan del Sur

  • So, you need to go out of town to the beaches that are located ten to fifteen minutes away from the center of the little town. Unless you rented a car, you will most likely take beach shuttles.
  • The surf shops in town run most of these beach shuttles. You will see them around town and it is easy enough to get your transport arranged through them. Of course, they also have surfboards and other equipment to rent as well as gear to purchase.

    Arena Caliente aka Good Times Surfshop in SJdS

    Arena Caliente aka Good Times Surfshop in SJdS

  • The beaches most frequented are Playa Maderas to the north of SJdS and Playa Yankee and other beaches to the south of SJdS. There are further away beaches you can get to via land.
  • If you are really keen to discover new beaches, panga boat rides to the further out breaks can be arranged.

    Panga boats can take you to otherwise empty lineups!

    Panga boats can take you to otherwise empty lineups!

  • Don’t go to Playa Maderas near San Juan del Sur and have the expectation that the lineup will be mostly empty peaks waiting for you and your friends. Not gonna happen…

    Somewhat crowded lineups at Playa Maderas

    Somewhat crowded lineups at Playa Maderas

  • Also, know that there are some beaches that frequently host surf instruction. Obviously, these will be mostly beginning surfers so understand that it is best to give them a wide berth.
  • If you are a beginner yourself, try to stay away from the big boys. Normally that means staying inside on the whitewater until you get a better handle on standing up on the face of the wave.
  • If someone at the the beach is being super friendly with you, they probably want something from you. Sorry, but just sayin’

    Cool dudes on the beach, maybe thieves later...?

    Cool dudes on the beach, maybe thieves later…?

  • Practice standard surf etiquette as much as possible. Respect the locals and be humble.
  • Don’t buy drugs or tell your new friend which hotel you are staying at. If you feel you must say something, lie about it and tell him you are staying at a different place altogether. Giving away where you are staying is usually an “in” for a thief who wants your iPhone really badly.

Useful links:

San Juan Surf

San Juan del Sur Guide: Surfing

Map to Maderas Beach

Map to Yankee Beach and other southern beaches


Nicaragua Surf Report


In Nicaragua, can Chinese move the canal, avoid Rio San Juan, and still play golf? | Nicaragua Dispatch

“Hey, better make that a Par 3, Wang” #HKND

The Sandinista's canal spokesman says the route is being moved south, but how far south will it go?

via In Nicaragua, can Chinese move the canal, avoid Rio San Juan, and still play golf? | Nicaragua Dispatch.

Nicaragua Insiders say…

Seems to me as an outside observer that it is quite possible that the canal’s planning and project management process is already broken, even at this early stage of the project. A canal cannot successfully be built properly given what appears to be the arbitrary nature of the outcomes of the planning process. Furthermore, an overall lack of transparency occludes any ability to see if this announced change really makes any sense or not.

On the surface (and maybe this is too harsh) this decision tells all the activist groups that they had better escalate and perhaps incite some violence, which cannot end well. They’d better get on the receiving end of some serious beatings delivered by the national police force, put out some publicity, and then watch as HKND makes concession after concession.

In this example, HKND is changing the route, but we don’t know why they chose the original route, and the decision to move the route seems to be based on mostly political and social reasons rather then environmental or feasibility reasons.

If, as Tim Rogers so correctly surmises, this might lead to a possible partial use of the Rio San Juan as the main canal route entering Lake Nicaragua, that is a game changer as far as both the environmental impacts and the political impacts as then Costa Rica would feel the need to get involved. Even though at the western end of the Rio San Juan the river doesn’t touch Costa Rican territory, Nicaragua’s southern neighbor would still raise a huge fuss and have some serious pull in terms of Western media propaganda.

Just imagine the following press release “eco-friendly, military-free Costa Rica fighting its aggressive northern neighbor, socialist President for Life Daniel Ortega from ruining the pristine ecosystem, Chinese Chinese, blah blah blah…”)

At least they could work towards managing their publicity and news releases a bit better to not come off looking so half-cocked! And yes, HKND if you are reading this, I am available for consulting!

There’s nothing like Nicaragua

That’s for sure! This is a well-done HD video using lots of drone shots from the air and several beautiful people and many divine-looking places. All around great job on this by Surf Ranch Nicaragua.

The video focuses on the area of southwestern Nicaragua, and although I’m sure quite this is an unintended consequence by the people who worked on this film, it feels to be somewhat of a testimony to the way Nicaragua is now, pre-Interoceanic Canal. So enjoy it while it lasts, which really means you had better get down here in 2015!

As they have filmed between Popoyo on the north to San Juan del Sur to the south, the canal will literally splice that into two as it will run right through the middle between those two areas. While I doubt the directors and producers had this in mind as they filmed…it is indeed pretty to look at and no doubt is a great draw for folks visiting.

Nicaragua Insiders say that the canal is a GO but only for land speculation purposes, actually building a canal would be just icing on the cake. The plan is to take advantage of the near-sovereignty the Chinese man who owns HKND and his associates have now by law and to use that to be in control of a large swath of southern Nicaragua.

Lots of European visitors in town now, per my sources in the Popoyo area. We had several here last week who probably are all now down at the beaches in your area! As written about previously, the European visitor numbers are growing and they are staying in my experience, an average of three weeks at a time in Nicaragua.There s nothing like Nicaragua   YouTube

So a couple of minor matters passed along to you about the Interoceanic Canal and European visitors to Nicaragua. Cheers!

ATBC Resolution: Halt the Interoceanic Canal in Nicaragua |

ATBC Resolution: Halt the Interoceanic Canal in Nicaragua

Posted on October 24, 2014 by tropicalbiologyCanal-1

In June 2013, the Nicaraguan government granted a concession to the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Corporation (HKND) to build an interoceanic canal connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, through Nicaragua, traversing Lake Cocibolca (also known as lake Nicaragua), along with multiple infrastructure development projects of considerable size. Planned developments include a 400 km2 artificial lake, multiple tourist complexes, factories to produce construction materials, and hundreds of kilometres of paved roads through otherwise inaccessible rainforest.

via ATBC Resolution: Halt the Interoceanic Canal in Nicaragua |.

The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation has come out firmly against the Nicaraguan Interoceanic Canal, citing the need for independent environmental studies and urging a review of the impacts to the environment and the people who currently live in the canal zone.

Nica Insiders are saying that with the wide swath of land awarded to the Chinese company, it is quite likely that they will just sell off the land and its resources to the highest bidder and then maybe see if they want to build an actual canal, leaving the country with all of the negative effects but none of the positive economic boom that President Daniel Ortega is promising the Nicaraguan people.

The monstrosity of the Canal| La Prensa

The monstrosity of the Canal

By: Ernesto Cardenal

Author and poet Ernesto Cardenal

Author and poet Ernesto Cardenal

We need to expose to the world what is happening in Nicaragua.

President Daniel Ortega, with the all-embracing power that he and his wife have in this country, had the National Congress create and approve (in one day) a law for the construction of the Interoceanic Canal. The people were not consulted at all about this law. The day after the law was passed, a concession was granted  with dizzying speed, although it will affect Nicaragua for over one hundred years. The award was made to a previously unknown Chinese named Wang Jing. The award only grants rights to Wang Jing but does not impose any obligations.

The grant was made without any previous study, as President Ortega himself has said.

The grant requires that all information about the construction of the Canal will remain confidential.

The grant, which was made without any bidding, includes an airport, two ports, a railway and two free trade zones.

National territory has been given so that these works can be carried out where Wang Jing wants and he will have all the permissions to make whatever decisions that may be required. He will have complete license, permit or authorization that he will ever need.

The State of Nicaragua will not receive a single penny in taxes or charges for any of the works.

Under the agreement the Chinese company signed, they are beyond national law, free of responsibility for any administrative, civil or criminal liability or penalty, even if they default on their obligations.

The law is contradictory to many aspects of our Constitution.

It also contradicts other projects that might be more profitable in the long term than cutting apart in two the tourist corridor of the Pacific.

The famed Humboldt Center has stated that the construction of this canal and its Project Partners are the biggest threat to environmental conditions in the country’s history. They also claimed that this concession exempts all Project Partners from compliance with environmental legislation which may be exposing the country to irreversible ecological destruction.

The State of Nicaragua would receive one percent of the shares each year, and in one hundred years would have one hundred percent of the shares.

With every passing ship, a huge amount of fresh water would go to the sea.

The Great Lake of Nicaragua will only have one utility: navigation. We cannot produce food through irrigation, we can only see boats passing by.

Nor can we drink water from the lake. We must also take into account that many people live by fishing in the lake and now they will not have that as an option.

All our water, surface and underground will be given to a Chinese man.

To the owners of the land that will be expropriated by this Chinese man will pay a price for the land at the land registry (i.e. tax declaration) value and not market value.

36 cities would be affected by the loss of the lake, as well as many smaller towns.

The Isletas of Granada will disappear because he locks will raise the lake level by two meters.

This nightmare scenario is what President Daniel Ortega calls the “Promised Land.”

Many experts say that Nicaragua would earn more by selling potable drinking water than from the income of a canal that won’t be ours for a hundred years.

With this Canal, the country will be divided into two, the Nicaragua North and South, as there were two Germanys and as there are two Koreas. There will be two distinct populations of animals (except those that can fly) that will be different over time. which will hurt our biodiversity.

Solentiname has been declared a national monument, but without the lake there will be no more Solentiname. Someone from over there said: “I’ll be eating a lot of fish, afterwards there will be no more because all the fish will be canned by the Chinese.”

With this Canal, Lake Nicaragua, which for us is a great blessing of God, will become a curse.

Doing away with Lake Nicaragua would be the greatest crime in the history of our country, and Ortega would become a more abominable figure than William Walker$.

via The monstrosity Channel | The Press News.

Very clear and direct words from a great Nicaraguan poet and writer, Ernesto Cardenal. I hadn’t thought about the idea that the isletas will basically disappear with a rise in the lake levels of 6 feet, but it makes sense.

Nicaraguan Insiders tell me that this is just a land grab. As I’ve posted elsewhere on this site, lets hope the worst case scenario does not come to pass. Please share far and wide!

Nicaragua, taking different response to drug trade, reduces violence | Take Two | 89.3 KPCC

Nicaragua, taking different response to drug trade, reduces violence

Take Two | October 30th, 2014, 8:45am

Honduras CocaineORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

Forensic personnel prepare about 400kg of cocaine to be burnt in Tegucigalpa on May 11, 2012.


The drug was seized this week in a joint operation, between the Police and the Army in La Mosquita, on the border with Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is Central America’s largest country. It has a long coastline that runs along both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

That makes it a prime location for the drug trade going from South America north to the U.S.

But unlike many of its neighbors, Nicaragua has taken a different approach to drug violence. And though poverty is still a major issue, it’s managed to avoid the high levels of violence in places like Mexico or nearby Honduras.

Read the rest here, via Nicaragua, taking different response to drug trade, reduces violence | Take Two | 89.3 KPCC.

NPR has been doing some very good reporting on Nicaragua in the last few months, several of which I have posted and commented on this website. This report discusses the different approach that Nicaragua has tried to take which is based on reducing violence and homicides rather then using the “mano duro” (hard fist) against drug traffickers and their minions.

On the positive side, I do believe that this approach has helped a great deal to keep the level of violence down in this country. On the, well maybe not negative side per-se but I can’t say it is a positive, I’ve heard some stories recently from people who know about these things first hand. While it isn’t a real surprise to hear that this sort of thing goes on, it is a bit of shock to have confirmation from reliable sources as to the nefarious dealings that goes on.

Nicaragua Insiders tell me that the whole approach is basically one that says the police (and probably the army too) are directly involved in at least some of the drug running, especially on the Caribbean coast. For example, there have been times when a plane full of drugs is going to land and the Army has been tipped off about the landing so they lie in wait in the bushes waiting for the landing to arrest the pilot and anyone who comes around to collect the merchandise. Lo and behold, a convoy of brand-new Toyota Hilux trucks rolls in, full of police. Are they there to arrest the bad guys? No, they are there to pick up the drugs and take it to Managua for further transport up to North America. The Hilux trucks come to to the landing site in plainclothes so-to-speak and after loading the merchandise, they put lights and signage on the vehicles.

Sometimes the Army decides to take on the Police and there are casualties. Other times, they decide they are outgunned and no one wants to die that day so they let them go on their merry way.

After all, who is going to stop police cars as they go back to Managua loaded down with the goods from South America? That’s right, nobody! Big picture, the local PTB’s (you know who they are!) don’t like rivals. There is one organized crime syndicate here and they will tolerate no competition!


Tuleños close ranks against the Grand Canal | La Prensa Noticias

Tuleños cierran filas contra el Gran Canal | La Prensa Noticias

Tuleños close ranks against the Grand Canal

“What do the countryfolk want? That the Chinese are gone!” shouted residents of El Tule, San Miguelito yesterday.

About two thousand people, including farmers, producers and people from communities and counties that would be affected by the construction of the Grand Interoceanic Canal in El Tule, jurisdiction of San Miguelito, Rio San Juan, joined protests against the mega project.

“The people of El Tule and producers demand respect for private property. No Canal. In the municipality of San Miguelito we are not sellers of land,” read the banners that led the long march that began yesterday at around 10:00 am and walked about four kilometers to go around the town and crossed the river bridge Tule, which traced the route of the controversial Canal.

On foot and horseback wearing the blue and white flag, banners, signs and amidst a torrential downpour, protesters arrived from the villages of El Roble, El Dorado I, II and III, Quebrada Seca, El Fajardo, La Tigra, El Naranjo, La Conquista, El Monge, El Tamboral, Los Portreros, Las Marias, Aguascalientes, El Congo and Las Raizones.


via Tuleños cierran filas contra el Gran Canal | La Prensa Noticias.

I started following this topic recently, as the whole Canal project is just possibly the biggest and from some perspectives, the best thing ever for Nicaragua. It could also end up being a half-dug ditch with all the environmental damages done but no funds to mitigate the damages. If the project is completed, if is not constantly maintained, no income will be there to fund mitigation efforts.

Question marks grow over mystery magnate behind the Nicaragua canal

Question marks grow over mystery magnate behind the Nicaragua canal

Decide one of two things: whether this is just a plain land grab of these poor campesinos but no actual Canal being built, OR do the project right and make sure it will be properly maintained going forward.

It appears I’m at the point of just hoping one of the worst-case scenarios does not come to pass…

Nicaraguan Insiders say yes, this project WILL HAPPEN but I urge caution as a World Bank representative recently said on an interview show here in Nicaragua that they have received no environmental, feasibility, route, financing, basically ANY data on this project. We’ll just have to wait and see…