From the front page of today’s La Prensa, a national newspaper, under the headline Arguello’s “gem” is against Tiscapa :

“The mayor of Managua, Alexis Arguello, announced that the construction of the Museum of the Sandanista Victory 1979 – 2009 was ‘more important’ than continuing the decontamination process in the lake Tiscapa, because ‘investing money in the lake is a waste of money’.”

The article continues to explain that because the city continues to dump sewage from the city into the lake, the mayor has decided that continuing the biotreatments that were started over two years ago is worthless. The mayors decision to spend C$3,470,000 on the museum is backed by the Sandinista party and the current Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega.

Arguellos is quoted, “We all have dreams, and our dreams began with a revolution, and we cannot forget that.  To criticize a museum that will represent the fathers of our country and the history of a country such as ours would be a sin.”

Crater Lake Tiscapa, Managua

Crater Lake Tiscapa, Managua

The article continues with a long quote from Victor Campos, vice-director of the Centro Alexander Von Humbolt, a leading environmental agency in Nicaragua.  Campos explains how contamination from the crater lake, located in the center of the city and a tourist destination, is leaching into the Managua aquifer.

I understand the importance of commemorating history, but this is a typical example of what I see as very sad tendancy in the development of Nicaragua.  As I wrote about when I was visiting Managua, the construction and reconstruction of monument after monument and the desire to create a personal legacy with pomp and circumstance rather than invest in sustainable development is destructive and tragic.  The cynic in me can see the museum in the future, abandoned when the leading party changes, another monument not honoring the courageous leaders of the revolution, who are already commemorated in countless ways, but to the sad, destructive value system found in the power structure of a poor country.

Encouragingly, La Prensa chose to feature this as a front cover story as well as back the environmentalists.  Even more encouraging are the comments of online readers, who overwhelmingly express their frustrations with the lack of environmental commitment in govermental policy.  Why is appreciating a unique and incredible natural wonder considered less patriotic that honoring the political history of the same country?  It is just as uniquely and iconically Nicaraguan, not to mention the importance of the evironmental impact of the contamination!  At least it’s clear that there are people here who subscribe to a different value system, now how can we get them in decision making positions?