Dateline: Managua, Nicaragua
Driving into the old center of town today, I passed a huge monument to Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez built in one of the roundabouts near Old Town.
Ever since the earthquake in 1972, this part of Managua has been sparsely populated as people have moved to the south of town to re-build. The Managua Cathedral lays as an abandoned reminder of the damage that was caused just over forty years ago.
Of course, not long after the earthquake, Nicaragua descended into a bloody civil war. The Sandinistas took over and ruled with an iron fist. Many Americans still remember Nicaragua in the headlines as Daniel Ortega ran the country in opposition to the Reagan administration’s dictates.
Now, once again, Daniel Ortega is in power. Everyone here knows he’ll easily be re-elected in 2016 and that his party will likely rule over the country for the next several decades.
So why would capitalists such as myself be so in favor of the return of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua? It all boils down to one word: money.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Land of the Free where the focus on “freedom” has somehow pushed capitalist values and true freedom to the side.
The freedom of the West
Just the other day, I read the story of a high school senior in Texas who got suspended for merely telling some bullies at school to stop picking on a special needs student. No punches were thrown, no aggression was displayed. Instead, by simply “walking toward” the bullies and telling them to cut it out, this kid got banned from his own school.
Talk about no good deed going unpunished.
I decided to check out the Twitter feed of the superintendent of the school district who had told the media that he was bound to goose-step along with “policy” in terms of the kid’s suspension. And what else did I find on the school district Twitter feed than a photo from the local elementary school showing a military pep rally and a banner proclaiming “We are the Land of the Free because of the Brave” above a bunch of impressionable six-year-olds.
I wanted to vomit. In a country that has the highest percentage of prisoners in the world — five times the number in eeeeevil China — and the developed world’s largest police state, kids are being taught from day one that “bravery” is taking up arms against Muslims in Yemen in the name of some random lines on a map.
It doesn’t matter that your freedom at home is put in jeopardy every time you approach an airport security checkpoint. Don’t worry about being felt up by the TSA, kids. Your freedom is being fought for overseas. There’s no need to worry about your freedom at home.
Albeit, it is a home where the buzzword “freedom” is poorly understood and overused. A place where freedom’s backbone — capitalism — is getting thrown under the bus as the successful become “the enemy”.
The appeal of capitalism
Fortunately, the opposite is happening here in Nicaragua and much of the developing world. Why? It appears that old school communists have discovered the value of money.
Of course, communist leaders are a total sham to begin with. It was always about money. But yesterday’s hardcore commies have found pragmatism. And they realize a fact that Barack Obama and most “free world” leaders have forgotten: capitalism is the best way to get rich.
In the western world, success has become a four-letter word. A recent survey showed that only one in three millionaires wanted people to actually know they were rich. Today’s wealthy in the developed world are scared of retribution from a culture that wants to tar and feather them for running a successful business or inheriting a few bucks.
I always say that the new safe havens will include better cultures than those in the west. A culture where success is spat upon is no road to riches.
Unfortunately, politicians in the US and elsewhere are all too happy to play along with the “hang the rich” meme in order to keep their claws on power . . . all so they can torpedo the country even further.
In Nicaragua, however, my expat friends refer to Daniel Ortega as the “benevolent” leader who just wants dollars coming into his government. That means he’s willing to do what it takes to bring money in the door and keep foreign investors here. In other words, communists are capitalists now.
As I shared yesterday, you can get residence in Nicaragua for under $1,000, and have the freedom to come and go as you please. Non-Nicaragua source income isn’t taxed and, even if it were, I wouldn’t count on Nicaragua to answer to the IRS and chase you down for a nickel.
Similarly, in the encounters I’ve had with American professionals, not one has said they are worried about the Nicaraguan government coming and taking their property. One expressed frustration with his choice of homebuilder, but no one has complained about the government.
My interest in traveling the world in search of yet-to-be-uncovered safe havens boils down to this: I am seeking levels of freedom which the countries that claim to be “free” can’t hold a candle to.
In the end, you can call the governments of Nicaragua, Cambodia, and elsewhere corrupt if you’d like. But then what does that make the United States?