April 9, 2010
As one of the participants in the Nicaragua Delegation, I would like to express my opinion on the program that I have experienced during the tour.
Overall, I have enjoyed the program you have set up for us, especially a visit and stay in the tobacco farm even though I think that we should spend more time in the farm.
Frankly speaking, I was overwhelmed by their level of poverty and misery that I had witnessed the same while I was in the Philippines in early 2000, and I did not see even a glimmer of hope in the farm but only a mendacity of hope that the campesinos have to live by.
One of the odd and quaint projects was a visit to the US Embassy and I wondered why we have to spend our precious time to lend our ears to the boilerplate briefings from the US State Department officials (or the CIA case officer?).
The only thing I learned from the visit was that the US Government has lots of money, the borrowed money that has to be eventually paid back by the US taxpayers; the conference room was cool and comfortable, and we maximized our comfort time by asking them more questions and getting another dosage of B*** S*** for two and half hours..
We should rather go and see the working environment of the maquiladora industrial complex where hundreds of Nicaraguan men and women toil under the blazing heat of the sun.
Instead, we were taken briefly to the sewing factory run by the co-op and offered to buy some leftover T-shirts that only fit small-sized person.
The main source of our annoyance was an unbearable heat we have faced for almost all day and even in the night while we sleep…we were housed in a hostel that was built for the garage or automobile repair shop.(we named our quarters “Hanoi Hilton”).
One of our delegates, 76-year-old man couldn’t get sleep, got sick, and dropped out from going to visit the farm and had to spend three days recuperating in A/Ced Hotel spending his own money.
After spending the first night horribly in a sweating heat at the Hanoi Hilton, I asked one of our facilitator, Sara Riegler whether we could have new bed sheets next day.
She did not reply with my query, but count-punched me derisively with a blunt one liner: “Do you change your bed sheet every day?”
In the first place, I was flabbergasted about her brutish manner and offensive remark toward the delegate as a team leader.
I barked at the moon: “Of course, we do not change bed sheets at home every day, but we also do not sleep in a room of extremely hot air that we sweat out all and every night, so that we do not have to change bed sheet everyday!!. You, moron!!”
Since this face-off, I decided not to rely on her in any circumstances, because I saw there is no way to get any problem solved or redressed with such a cold-blooded team leader.(I joked about her to my compadre in the team that she could be only a good candidate for a Sayanim that the Mossad want to recruit for the future operation in Nicaragua.)
Sarah also began to show fatigue and irritation whenever she was translating the Spanish speaking lecturers…she repetitively mumbles, murmurs, groans, stutters, drags, and eats her words that I am sure she needs a public speech therapy if she wants to continue her work.
She also did not seem to have much knowledge about the past history (the Sandinista Movement) and current situation in Nicaragua. (I learned that she has been in Nicaragua for only six months, paid by the stipend, not the salary.)
Without the timely intervention by Mrs. Sharon Hostetler, the Delegation Tour would have ended in a worthless excursion.
Sharon has displayed the excellent leadership and showed us her insightful knowledge about the Nicaraguan situation clearly and passionately.
Without her help and assistance that I had received during my stay in Nicaragua, I would have not gotten a correct understanding about the current Ortega Regime.
Above all, I appreciate that Witness for Peace has given me a great opportunity to know more about the current situation in Nicaragua. (I have written an article about my Delegation Tour and posted it in the Internet Web Site.)
Lastly, I want to make sure that this is my personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of any or all Delegates.
PS. I also appreciate that you have taken the immediate step to redress the accounting error that you have made on my credit card.