Cutting Through Internet Misinformation About Nicaragua By Pronicaragua And Other "Sources"
There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet about the countries in Central America. I happen to know more about the misinformation related to Nicaragua than other countries, so I'm going to take a closer look here and present what I find. At times I've expressed some caution about trusting the cleverly censored forums like nicaliving. But it goes beyond just one website. Wikipedia has the same lies, as do real estate websites, "non"governmental agency websites (unsurprisingly) and tour websites. Here are a few examples:
The paragraph of lies below appeared in Nicaragua's Managua page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managua)
Nicaragua has been rated the safest country in Central America by various sources. Statistics and surveys by INTERPOL, the United Nations, INCAE, the Inter-American Human Rights Institute and the Police Forces in the Americas show that statistically, Nicaragua has the lowest crime rate in Central America and one of the lowest in Latin America. In addition, Nicaragua has the lowest homicide rate in Central America. In 2007 the homicide rate was 14 per 100,000 people.
The one and only thing that is true from the paragraph is the rough estimate of the reported homicide rate (see the graph at right which is NOT from wikipedia but from a separate UN report at http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/Central_America_Study_2007.pdf). Feel free to do a little research on your own and you will see that both Costa Rica has a lower reported and real homicide rate.
Now take a close look at the references 39-41 from that wikipedia page:
39. "Safe and stunning" [ The World's best-kept retirement secret ] 40. www.pronicaragua.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=97 ] 41. "Semester in Managua, Nicaragua at Universidad Centroamericana" Fairfield University.[ NONEXISTENT PAGE www fairfield edu/x16869.html ]
Well, #39 is an article written by International Living, which makes money selling false information and property in Nicaragua. No surprise about all the lies in there. I'm sure they had to pay to have that article published by the msn. What blatant trash.
#40 Now is this a website whose objectivity we can really trust: pronicaragua.org? Go ahead and try to navigate to pronicaragua.org and see what you get - advertisements from Nicaragua Tourism and Hotel Investment Exchange! Then look it up in the domain ownership database. You'll find: J Pereira, ProNicaragua, Km 5 Carretera Masaya, 1/2 cuadra, oeste, Managua, Nicaragua. Fine. So let's skip right past the delusional "Nicaragua ranked 3er most globalized country in Latin America" from the front page to the "About Us" page.
ProNicaragua is the Nicaraguan Investment Promotion Agency, established in 2002. We are a not-for-profit, public-private institution whose mission is to generate economic growth and job creation in Nicaragua by attracting high-quality foreign direct investment. We provide free support services to qualified investors seeking investment opportunities in our country.
In other words, it's a way for some people (private) to take investor money and government (public) money. This is rich. But it gets even better if you read their press releases:
http://www.pronicaragua.org/espanol/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=90&Itemid=238 on that page you find this:
El año pasado, la Agencia de Promoción de Inversiones, ProNicaragua, con el apoyo del programa patrocinado por el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, Millenium Challenge Corporation, en Nicaragua (www.mcc.gov), organizaron y diseñaron la celebración de un Foro de Inversiones, enfocado en las oportunidades de inversión emergentes en la industria hotelera de Nicaragua.
In other words, Pronicaragua has been receiving a lot of money from the MCC of the United States Government. This money has been used, among other things, in writing fraudulent information on their pronicaragua website. We've also had a user on this website, jdbriceno, who was trying to post misleading information on this website but then quit and hasn't been back. I'm willing to bet that this "Diego jdbriceno" was being paid directly or indirectly by the MCC to misrepresent Nicargua in my claim about Nicargua's misuse of foreign aid.
#41? This page doesn't even exist anymore, but it appears to have been propaganda written by a Nicaraguan University to advertise an exchange program for foreign students.
Now who do you think wrote the misleading information in wikipedia itself and put the links to the propaganda in the Managua page of Wikipedia? I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
And don't think that the lies are just by Nicaraguans or that all the gringo-fraud is from nicaliving (thought that is a top spot for misinformation). Probably well over half the websites with information about Nicaragua are propaganda. Take a look, for instance, at http://toursnicaragua.com. This is a company owned and run by a couple gringoes (Mike Newton and Richard Leonardi) and a Nicaraguan wife. Just look at the "Country Information" page on their website.
Many people are surprised to learn that the United Nations ranks Nicaragua as the second safest country in all of Latin America (behind Uruguay). Many of our customers have related to us that before their visit to Nicaragua they were shown concern by family or friends about safety issues in Nicaragua. Is the negative image of Nicaragua justified? Is it dangerous here?
[...] According to Interpol in 2001, crime rate per 100,000 was 9,927 for England, 7,736 for Germany, 4,161 for the USA and 1,750 for Nicaragua. According to Interpol Nicaragua is home to less than half the crime of the USA and a quarter of the crime in England or Germany. Murder rates are a good measure for a country's level of violent crime as murders rarely go unreported. The world's homicide rate is currently estimated at 8.86 per 100,000. Latin America is quite a bit rougher, with an average of 22.9 murders per 100,000 in the region. Most neighbor countries of Nicaragua in Central America are on the upper end of the world's scale, exactly where the world might expect Nicaragua would be located. Countries like El Salvador at 117 per 100,000, Guatemala at 45 per 100,000 and Honduras at 41 per 100,000. In North America, the US murder rate is 7.1 per 100,000, yet its cities weigh in at 14.8 per 100,000 for Los Angeles, 21.9 for Chicago, 31.7 for Atlanta, with Washington, D.C. at 41.8 and New Orleans at 43.3. Costa Rica is at 7.2, the same as the US nationwide and significantly safer than most other Central American republics. But what about Nicaragua? Nicaragua suffers only 3.4 per 100,000, making it the least violent country in Central America and one of the safest in the entire hemisphere.
What a bunch of lies. This is such festering propoganda that I am not even going to waste my time on it. I wouldn't mind if the website said something like, "Despite Nicargua being dangerous, our tours are safe. Over 10 years, we have developed relationships with a talented and well-compensated staff, and we have never had even one incident in our tours" (assuming that is true). But to put lies on the website and misrepresent Nicaragua? That is wishful thinking, fraud, and categorically a dishonest business practice. Fits right in with Nicaragua.