This piece is translated from one by Yorlis Luna, a young Nicaraguan living in the small city of San Marcos, on the high plateau to the south of the capital, Managua. The translation inevitably loses some of the poetry of her original Spanish.
Going to the popular market in one of Nicaragua’s Pacific towns is to feel the immense strength of the Nicaraguan people and to discover the real lives that exist behind the lies that the mass media tell about our country. I go to the market and see the stalls full of fresh vegetables and local fruits, I ask for some pieces of ginger and the young woman tells me proudly: “they are today’s, they were cut today… smell them, they are fresh!”.
What pride, when in a world where it is a luxury to consume fresh, local products, Nicaragua is full of healthy food for local people to enjoy. I carry on walking and a vegetable seller very kindly says to me “how beautiful your child is, children are so beautiful, you have to take care of them… you must have realised, things are different, …where haven’t I been? The truth is… yes, life here has changed!”. Those words touched my heart, the working people know that so many things have changed over these past 14 years.
But how can you not feel the change if here we have a country where day-by-day people feel more secure, they live in peace, you can come and go without worrying, without the spectre of fear that someone will rob you or your children, that they will force money out of you or demand that you join a violent gang. You can breathe in a mixture of tranquillity, joy, laughter and sweat, and you can work in a place that is at peace, something that is a distant dream for the working classes in other Central American countries. Here we have a country where people’s livelihoods are supported by a government that not only guarantees public safety, but also makes sure that health, education and recreation are not a privilege only for the few.
They say that the eyes are the mirrors of the soul and in the eyes of the people in the municipal market you can see how the place vibrates with tenderness, roughness, joy, hope and pride, perhaps because there in the narrow alleyways of this traditional market hides the rebellious soul of the people. When in the world there is a perpetual war of the powerful classes against the poor, here in the Nicaragua of a thousand battles, the struggle is against the deep-rooted poverty inherited from the plundering of colonial and neo-colonial regimes, and against the arrogance of the powerful classes that still exist both inside and outside our country.
How proud we are to live in this nation, where the peasants’ hands, wrinkled and tired, the handmade apron of the market women with black, mestizo and indigenous faces and their joyful cries, announce that resistance to class hatred continues. That a small country deigns to build its own history and stand up against imperialism is not arrogance, but rather a way to honour the blood shed over many centuries and to embrace our roots. I walk and walk through the local market, and there in the faces of the women, of all the youngsters and older people, I see families that are still working, dreaming and building a better future. Don’t listen to what people in other countries say, because here is a different Nicaragua.