· They are all the same (politicians). He is just another politico now.
· I’m not an Ortegaist, but I do have respect for him for standing up to the US
· Lo que me importa es trabajo, si tengo trabajo, estoy bien con el politico (I just want to be able to make my own way and I don’t have confidence in the politicians.)
On The Sandanistas
· I was taken into the mountains for three years. They took me, I did not want to go. “No, no fue voultario”. I went to a training camp with the Russians and they taught me how to fight.
· I saw two of my friends murdered in front of me in the mountains. One of my friends got his head sliced off, right in front of me. There was nothing I could do. When you are in the mountains the only thing you can think of is your own skin. Your own skin, that’s all you can worry about. This affects a person.
On ‘The mountains’
BR- Did the war impact the whole country or was it mainly isolated in North?
R- Yes, it was mainly in the North; in the mountains. They would take people from the countryside but the fighting was in the mountains.
BR – How are the people in the mountains now?
R – Oh, there is no more fighting in the mountains. The fighting has stopped. Its safe.
BR- What I’m trying to ask is how the war affected the people there.
R – Oh, there are a lot affected people there, crazies. The war makes you crazy. You can’t see what we saw and not be affected. I had to take off for seven years to clear my head. I went to South America and United States. It took a long time.
BR- You are really lucky you could do that. I imagine few people had this luxury. Are there are a lot of people with problems there?
R – Yes. The people in the mountains were affected. There are a lot of crazies there. The men beat their wives and there is a lot of drinking. Lots of violence, fighting in the bars.
BR- What do people around here do for a living?
P- Mostly fishing and small farming. Remember you saw the shrimp/salt farms on the way to town.
BR- there’s a lot of people here . . . .they all do fishing and farming . . . is there enough work for them?
P – More people used to work, things used to be better. People used to be able to get able to borrow money to grow their business and get them through hard times. The government used to help.
BR – In the 80s?
P- Yes. Now people can’t get any help. There are no loans and if you can get loans, they are too expensive. Interest is too high.
BR- What does the government do now?
P-They do what they can, but there’s no money.
BR- so do they give materials for houses or food?
P- Yes, materials for building (not sure if he was just agreeing to be polite . . . . .but t he clear message was that people were not getting what they used to)
BR- Didn’t the Sandanista’s give people land?
P- Yes, sort of. They gave it to cooperatives, for community co-ops. But the profit was never for the individuals. The government set the prices at which they would buy the whole sale product.
P- Now, its just too hard. People can’t get money to grow or sustain during hard times. You can’t barrow money and then owe the same amount in interest in less than 5 years. This does not make sense.
BR- Its good you know this. A lot of people have gotten into trouble by not understanding this.
P- Yes, people do what they have to. I watched my father do business when things were better. He would barrow money to sustain us when crops were bad. But, you can’t do that now.
BR- What about NGO’s or micro lending?
P- That’s only for the leaders of the community. They will receive the money for the community but it never gets to the community. They are the only ones that benefit.
BR- So the community politicians are just like the national politicians.
P – See this road, see how bad it is? It was great during the 80s. No one has cared to keep it up since then. They used this to get people for the mountains.
(Both Ruy and Plutarco would speak of “the mountains” not “the war”. There was something interesting about this but my Spanish is not good enough to explore this nuance. Nor was I comfortable enough to explore the irony in his complaint of the deterioration of the road used to take children from his town to the mountains.)
BR – The Sandanista’s would come for Soldiers, like they did for Rudy?
P- They like people from this area, rural people.
P – Yes, and not political.
BR- Would they take mainly children?
P-Yes, you had to be (13, 14 or 15, I can’t remember) years old. I was not quite of age and they had already taken my two older brothers so my mother pleaded with them and I was able to stay with her but it was not easy. It was just me, taking care of the family. Then my brother came home from the mountains and he was not right. It was very difficult.
P- They also took land from the people here.
BR- Part of the land reform?
P- No, not for the people. For his people. See these hills, all of them, all this land? He gave this to one person. This is really good land. It goes all the way up there and all the way back there. From those hills you can see everything. It’s a lot of land, really good land.
BR- I thought he took land from Somoza to give to the people?
P – This land was from someone who bought it. He was not a polititician. He paid for the land. They took it when he died and the land was in probate. His family tried to fight it, they are still fighting it. That’s always how it is. The rich people have all the lawyers and judges and they just get more and more.
(then we started driving by the owners that were given the land)
P- there they are; see, they are not poor. They did not need the land. See how nice their truck is.
BR – So this was not land given to the people?
P – No this was land given to one person, for their own benefit. One of Ortega’s cronies, as a reward.
Many thanks to BR for the transcription, as I seem to have been overcome by a severe case of laziness.