Walking around Managua this morning, there is electricity in the air. Everyone is getting ready for the big May Day celebration. A few of the people that have been checking into the Norma have come specifically because they want to be in Managua for May Day. I'm so bummed that I'm going to miss it but I have to fly back home.
I spent some time in the early afternoon with a group of internationalists who were painting banners for tomorrow's festivities. Throughout the city, the hostels are full with people from all over the world. Black and red Sandinista flags are everywhere. I saw a woman on the street selling tee shirts with an image of Sandino in his large hat. I'm not a tee shirt fan but I bought one. I think I'll wear it home tomorrow. I managed to resist the impulse to act like a tourist until the last day.
In the evening we ended up back at the Yerba Buena where we were treated to an unexpected speech by a guy who claimed to be the P.L.O. (Palestinian Liberation Organization) Ambassador to Nicaragua. Does the P.L.O. even have an embassy? It was an interesting charla because the guy defied all my preconceived notions of what a member of the P.L.O. would be like and by that I mean he was not a madman. He was actually very reasonable. He told us about the plight of the Palestinian people and how many of them have lost their ancestral homeland through the creation of the Israeli state.
|Yasser Arafat of the P.L.O.|
The speaker tried to disassociate himself and the P.L.O. from any terrorist activities, blaming it all on the Israeli secret police despite the fact that the P.L.O. has on several occasions, at least to the best of my knowledge, accepted responsibility for such actions. He was a persuasive speaker and seemed to be sincere, but I don't know if I can believe what he said. It’s just completely at odds with everything I thought I knew. In any case, I'm willing to at least listen to another side of the story.
It seems that quite a few people at the Yerba Buena (though not all) supported the Palestinian guy. He got a warm round of applause. Maybe I’m completely wrong about the P.L.O. You would think that as a person of Mexican heritage living in the United States I'd be able to relate to the idea that someone can take your land and then call you a foreigner. I do, of course but I'm also an American who sometimes benefits from my country's actions, whether I agree with them or not. My visits to Yerba Buena always seem to leave me feeling more confused than anything else. Maybe there's something in that drink! Oh yeah, there's a healthy dose of rum.
Upon reflection: Although I had been brought up to question authority, I didn't realize that I had assumed my sources of information were unbiased. I had bestowed authority on the news media. The Yerba Buena provided an opportunity for Dialogic, for dialogue between equals whose arguments could be evaluated based on reason and validity rather than acceptance of claims based on power or authority.