Ojos de Agua:
Nicaraguan Geopolitical Water nodes
history of Nicaragua is changing abruptly. Unfortunately, our academic
resources are deteriorated, impoverished and even distorted by the current
regime. The injection of propaganda by the Sandinista political party led by
Daniel Ortega and under the yoke of Rosario Murillo, has completely infected
any state resource in Nicaragua. In each logo, in each government website, on
the streets, on buildings, in schools where children are indoctrinated and
especially on television channels, we have been saturated by “Danielista”
propaganda, as a method of clinging to power and establishing a dictatorial
dynamic on information platforms.
being natural resources rich in flora and fauna with unique geographic,
geological and hydrological properties, Ojos de Agua also represent unspoken
powerful geopolitical nodes that have shaped our demography, history, urban and
rural memory, and economy. However, our natural resources are also evidence of
government mismanagement, territorial displacement, pollution and economic
segregation. Many of these individual issues are part of the ingredients of the
current situation in Nicaragua. Understanding our neglect and the decline of
our natural resources is necessary to build the foundations of what can be
retaken at some point in the future to raise awareness and develop better
management plans for these resources that are actually fair and dignified for
the Nicaraguan population.
Nicaragua has an inherent relationship with water. Although there is no exact translation of the Nahuatl language, different versions opt for translations such as: "land surrounded by water" or "Here by the water." The Pacific Ocean represents the western border and the Atlantic Ocean the eastern border of the country. The Nicaraguan territory has two great lakes (Cocibolca and Xolotlán), around 30 recognized lagoons of which at least 11 are of volcanic origin. Coastal lagoons, bays and an artificial lake are other hydrological resources of the country.
Each “ojo de agua” in Nicaragua is an agent of change and highly determinant in shaping the communities around them. Our relationship with the water resources of our urban and rural centers define part of our cultural identity and our relationship with nature. Much of the attraction and uniqueness of our volcanic lagoons are their endemic properties that have made our flora and fauna evolve in unprecedented ways. This effect transcends to our human dynamics and is reflected by seeing aerial views of the urban developments around these hydrological resources. Unfortunately, urbanization in areas surrounding lakes and lagoons has led to mistaken solutions like misuse of land, use of lagoons and lakes as garbage and human waste dumps and even (but rarely spoken) fake propaganda from Nicaraguan Governments that use the excuse of tourism to privatize natural areas that should be properly conserved and open to the public population rather than exploited by the private sector and foreign investors.
de agua are constellations that attract to their orbit a unique ecosystem,
migratory animal species, human settlements, investments, tourism,
international agents, political incentives, economic impacts, etc. It is
because of this intersectionality of forces that these resources are
geopolitical nodes that define a large part of our territorial dynamics.
LAGOON | NATURAL RESERVE OR TOURIST MONOPOLY?
Is it really progress having so many
hostels, businesses and private residences on the slopes of the Natural Reserve
Apoyo Lagoon? Is this an image of progress or socio-economic segregation?
in Apoyo Lagoon has been a two-sided-story, a smokescreen that has been
marketed as great works of progress by the Nicaraguan governments. The tourist
monopoly in Apoyo Lagoon has been sold as something that stabilizes the
country's economy when in reality has only privatized lands that should not be
private; considering this area has been established as a natural reserve since
1991. The projects that are carried out in natural areas of Nicaragua cannot
continue to be excused under the argument that they provide “jobs” for the
community. The privatization of land in the Natural Reserve Apoyo Lagoon has
only profited a very low percentage of the population. Owners of restaurants,
hostels and private residences on the slopes of the reserve mostly belong to a
specific sector of Nicaragua with a high social or foreign stratum or in some
cases from close relationships with government forces. The real outcome of
these unlawful activities is evident in the journey to the lagoon where
communities are withdrawn from the lagoon. There is a high contrast between
these communities that also have economic and infrastructural limitations and
many of the new luxurious constructions on the shore and slope of the lagoon
that, precisely because of their high cost, become inaccessible for most of the
Nicaraguan population. A natural reserve should not be privatized and instead
should be able to breathe from private tourism to open its resources to the
communities around it.
The lack of regulations has directly influenced the architectural development
of the area in which we see a clear social pyramidal hierarchy in the buildings
that have populated the lagoon in previous decades and the native constructions
with limited resources that have been relegated to adjacent areas. Despite some
initiatives in past years to build public spaces on the area, there is much
work to be done to balance the amount of private property that continues to
appropriate the immediate shore of the Lagoon. It should also be contemplated a
plan for public accessibility from urban centers to the shore of the Lagoon.
Due to the lack of infrastructural plans and public spaces that are accessible
and dignified, the population who want to visit the lagoon are conditioned to
go to one of these private touristic places, since they have better conditions
to enjoy this natural resource or sneak between informal trails to reach to a
shore that has been appropriated by all these businesses around the Lagoon. As
Nicaraguans we should be able to enjoy our own tourism at its best, a tourism
that is suitable for everyone.
LAGOON | LAGUNAR COMPLEX AND INFRASTRUCTURAL NETWORK
Lagoon is located in the Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean Coast of
Nicaragua. It is the largest coastal lagoon in the country. In fact, Laguna de
Perlas is not simply a lagoon, but a group of lagoons that interact with each
other on this coastline that connects with various rivers in the area and flows
into the Caribbean Sea.
case study is totally different from Laguna de Apoyo where there is abundant urban
growth as part of land privatization strategies. Here we find a rural area that
has had small gentrification. Although, each one of the initiatives carried out
in the Nicaraguan Caribbean were widely marketed and covered on propaganda by
the Ortega government as great works of progress. Everything as a smokescreen
that would later fall when the governmental abuse and injustices against the
inhabitants located in the sector along the interoceanic canal, which they
announced since 2014. This makes us wonder if the Ortega government's only
interest in boosting tourism in the Caribbean was just another diversionary
strategy to cover up the appropriation of land by the canal and the extraction
of precious woods. However, long before the increase in corruption due to this
project, the Caribbean Coast has been one of the areas in Nicaragua where there
has been the most looting and corruption of natural resources at the hands of
government forces and the private sector.
rural character of Laguna de Perlas has been used as a tool to demise government
corruption due to the lack of territorial visibility both literal and metaphorical,
urban infrastructure and education in comparison to the pacific coast. Despite
this, the same rural character has been the cause of incredible human, animal
and plant evolutionary processes. The lack of urbanity and transport
infrastructure and land use has made the inhabitants of Laguna de Perlas turn
it into an infrastructural network by itself. This hydrological mantle brings
together the most important commercial activities in that area where commercial
and sport fishing supplies residences, businesses and tourism. Around it there
are few roads and some highways built in previous years, however, the lagoon is
the main transportation conduit, which in turn allows for better connections
with islets and keys within the waterhole.
Pearls Lagoon is also one of the epicenters of pile-dwellings on water in the
country. Despite the fact that the Caribbean area is the region of the country
most affected by tropical storms and hurricanes, its inhabitants have
transcended the ground settlements to extend the architectural domain towards
the waters of the lagoon. These informal and organic buildings are found on the
shores of the aquatic mantle where communities have settled. Its execution is
full of creative and empirical solutions that have become more sophisticated
over the years. At this point, the floating architecture of Pearls Lagoon is
one of the most interesting attractions in the region. The buildings have
various typologies depending on their use. In some cases, gazebos anchored to a
port, in others, buildings with a few volumes and in other cases more complex
formations, composed of several volumes that offer a unique experience to the
water and the views of the area.
Pearls Lagoon represents a
node of intense commercial, tourist and residential activities. Its pronounced
natural and architectural characteristics inform the territorial dynamics of
the area that can be further studied to facilitate access to urban resources
that do not interrupt the harmony that its inhabitants have built and kept for
OJOS DE AGUA IN DANGER
born in Nicaragua for the last three decades have grown knowing that our “Ojos
de agua” are slowly dying. The excitement of visiting these incredible natural
gifts gets to a bittersweet end once you learn that because of the wrongful
urban planning conducted by Nicaraguan Governments, we are losing part of the
greatness of our land. It has become a systematic problem, deep-rooted in our
culture and lifestyle. The Ortega-Murillo regime uses their propaganda to
present an intention of change. They have carried out what looks like projects
that are meant to save some of these resources like the Sanitation Project in
Lake Xolotlán (2012) and the Oxygenation Project in Tiscapa Lagoon (2019). The
failure of these projects has been evident in a short time, simply because they
approach this issue from the wrong angle. There cannot be a plan to sanitize
our water resources is they don’t include a change in the planning of our urban
settlements, the wrongful rainwater urban infrastructure with sewers that
continue to pollute these resources and finally, but most importantly, we
cannot save our lakes and lagoons if we don’t change our human culture. This
last item is problematic for the current regime because it involves education.
In order to create real change in our country we need to empower our
communities with access to good free education. The Ortega-Murillo regime is
aware of this and that’s precisely why they have hacked and infected the
education system with their fake propaganda. There cannot be a significant
change in Nicaragua, if the population doesn't change their mindset. What is
the purpose of cleaning the lakes and lagoons? If the lack of education and
proper infrastructure keeps polluting them? Each element is interconnected. The
problem is that empowering the Nicaraguan population would mean the end of
1. González, Mauricio. “Contaminación asfixia a la laguna de Tiscapa”. El Nuevo Diario, 25 de enero, 2018.
2. Lara, Rafael. “Managua y sus cinco lagunas en peligro”. El Nuevo Diario, 09 de octubre, 2016.
3. Guevara, Karen & Claret, Jeanette. ““Causas y consecuencias de la contaminación en el lago de Nicaragua”. UNAN Managua, Enero, 2015.
4. Navarro, Álvaro. “Laguna de Apoyo: el santuario tropical”. Confidencial, 23 de Marzo, 2016.
5. Laguna de Apoyo, el mejor destino turístico, más cerca de Managua. Confidencial, 20 de Marzo, 2016.
6. Laguna de Perlas. Travel Guide de Nicaragua.
7. Laguna de Perlas. Vianica. https://vianica.com/sp/atractivo/180/laguna-de-perla
8. Barrios, Orlando. Contaminación en Laguna de Masaya no se detiene. El Nuevo Diario, 25 de Enero, 2017.
9. Laguna de Perlas. EcuRed. https://www.ecured.cu/Laguna_de_Perlas_(Nicaragua)
10. Reserva Natural de Wawashang. Vianica. https://vianica.com/sp/atractivo/97/reserva-natural-de-wawashang
11. Tórrez, Cinthya. “Le tomarán el pulso al saneamiento del lado Xolotlán. La Prensa, 27 de Junio, 2017.
12. Canal interoceánico en Nicaragua: ¿cortina de humo o plan secreto?. DW. https://www.dw.com/es/canal-interoce%C3%A1nico-en-nicaragua-cortina-de-humo-o-plan-secreto/a-50059308
13. Lobo, Tomás. Canal de Nicaragua, el viejo sueño interoceánico que se resiste a morir. El País Costa Rica, 10 de Julio, 2020.
14. Moncada, Roy & Silva, José. El gran canal de Nicaragua, el megaproyecto que quedó en papel. La Prensa, 19 de Diciembre, 2019.
Copyright © oscarmcaballero.com