I've left this one alone for a while to let the dust settle.
However, in order to present something of a true reflection of Nicaragua it seems only right to include it. Certainly, anyone with any expat links to this country is likely to already know the deal.
In short, in the space of a short while, two Americans were murdered in Nicaragua. More details here.
Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth:
Firstly the killing in Esteli seemed essentially domestic albeit somewhat macabre. As sicking as it was this was only ever a one-off. The second, which was perpetrated by a drug addict looking for cash, was a crime against a white American lady. It appears to be a robbery that went wrong.
In short, these are not "Gringo go home" attacks and apparently not motivated by spite. There is no "anti-Gringo crime wave"
But it has been enough to stir up communities and get people talking and, it appears also open up some divides.
It has also hit the, rather limited, local expat blogosphere.
To my mind this is not an excuse to come here. If you can live in a country (USA) where 30,000 people are shot and killed every year then you can live more safely here.
I do keep my night time walking limited to well lit areas and I escort my girlfriend after dark. Our house-sit-home is surrounded by high walls - that is normal here. We're also looking after two large dogs which we've been glad to have around.
That is the limit of our concessions to crime. This is not an unsafe country. Again I'll parrot the "second safest in Latin America" quote that we all tell everyone.
More scary is the expat reaction. While making yourself safe seems highly advisable the whole thing reminds me of that Bill Hicks quote:
"The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one."
Surely the last thing anyone needs to do is to hide from their own communities and make their homes into ugly fortresses.
Coincidentally, that is what we were told the new US Embassy would be like in Managua. The actual words were "Accessible Fortress", work that one out.
Their guys came to talk to the expats here in Granada following the murder and I had my arm twisted to go along. I think the speakers forgot that not all present were Americans and a conspiratorial "we're all friends together" tone was a little out of place.
Most damaging of all, after 45 minutes (I timed it, I was surprised that it took so long) the first blame for the Sandinista government was voiced by an audience member. The Embassy guy warmed to the subject and strongly hinted his agreement that the "soft on crime" Sandinistas were culpable for a crime surge.
He also, incredibly to my mind, went on to reveal to everyone present, that the increase in visa requests for the United States rose considerably after the Sandinistas came to power.
Well, to me all this information seemed out of place and from a wholly different battle that not all of us were signed up to. Seeing as the Granada crime was a theft then it would be equally easy to blame it on a generation of neoliberalism that left the rich richer and the poor behind.
But now it's me that digresses so I'll try and make some sense of it all.
If you are an expat in Granada, or anywhere in Nicaragua then this is a reminder to take precautions against crime. If you were thinking of moving here then, to my mind, that shouldn't change - certainly not if your own country has a higher crime rate.
If you are a development worker here then this should change nothing. You came here to help and you know there are problems. It's not all finger-painting with smiley kids. You take the rough with the smooth. If you want to help somewhere entirely safe then go and volunteer to serve meals in a gated senior citizens' community.
Likewise being here is no real act of bravery either. Trust me, I am not that brave, and I have enough respect for my parents not to put them through the worry if this place was genuinely dangerous.
The deaths were tragic, as all deaths are. One blogger wrote that her prayers were with all the volunteers and development workers here. Let's extend that shall we? Let's hope that everyone here stays as safe as possible - foreigners AND Nicaraguans.
Let's hope that crime is cut. Let's also hope that issues such as poverty and drug abuse are treated with assistance and compassion so that desperate people do not make the leap to criminality.
And let's not also forget that if the murder victims had been Nicaraguans then I wouldn't even be writing this.