happy independence day, nicaragua

I’ve been researching Nicaragua and found this documentary recommended in the back of my old Moon guidebook. I couldn’t find it in any Los Angeles public library (obviously my first go-to source), so I Googled it, and lo and behold, some kind and wonderful soul has put all 82 minutes of it on YouTube. Isn’t the internet great?

The World Stopped Watching is a sequel to the 1980’s documentary, The World is Watching. The first was made when the world was watching Nicaragua, to Nicaragua’s ultimate peril, when the fate of the Cold War seemed hinged on a triangular shaped country in Central America. The sequel is an example of journalism at it’s finest: two of the Contra war’s very involved U.S. correspondents returned to Nicaragua in 2003 to find out what had happened since the world had stopped watching. Life had gone on, they find. They tracked down the very same campesinos they interviewed nearly two decades before, showed them pictures of their younger selves, and asked, simply, how they were, how life had changed, before and after. After a jubilant and hopeful revolution and then a senseless Contra war, everyone had left; had stopped paying attention. How had the country changed? How life had gone on.

Not to simplify this thorough and complex piece of reporting, but, a quote: “We came back to see the price they paid for the revolution. Is life getting better for them and I think obviously its not. I think their situation is worse than it was 15 years ago.”

This journalist interviews a group of Nicaraguan men. One of the men fought for the Contras; the other for the Sandanistas. “Now, we are like brothers. For me, there were no winners. There are no winners for me, because we were killing our brothers.”

I just finished watching the documentary and was about to dive back, for a refresher, into Blood of Brothers, my favorite book that I read sweating in a hammock exactly a year ago, when I realized, coincidentally, or maybe not: today is Nicaragua’s 188th Independence Day.

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