Gregory A. Lewin

Bluefields, RAAS-Oct. 22-As a black male or female, traveling to and from the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is a nightmare. You cannot call it a violation of your rights because you have none. The color of your skin makes you an immediate target for unwanted and unnecessary questioning. You are automatically viewed as a potential drug trafficker no matter what your profession may be.

No matter how often you travel between the Caribbean coast and Managua, every time you arrive at the airport you are asked the same questions over and over by someone with a piece of paper. Undoubtedly, they have no record keeping because they continue to ask the same questions. Stupid questions such as: What is your profession, who do you work for, what do you do for a living? Obviously, if you have a job that is what you do for a living. This has happened to me every time I’ve travel between Bluefields and Managua. First, you are completely searched in Bluefields followed by the dumb questioning in Managua and searched again.

My recent trip back from Bluefields was no different. There were about ten passengers on the plane. I was the only black man onboard. Mr. Sergio Leon, a reporter for La Prensa, was a witnessed to my ordeal. I had one carry-on luggage, my passport and some audio CDs. I knew the routine, so I was prepared to answer the same dumb line of questioning. When we arrived, all the mestizos were let out. I was the only one asked to open my carry-on bag, which I did. I opened the bag and did not wait for the individual to ask for any identification. I immediately supplied everything because I knew he would ask for them. The interrogation continued, and I finally asked why was I the only one asked to open my bag and questioned. His reply was, the bag is kind of empty and we could not see very well through the x-ray machine (go figure).

The questioning continued, and I lost it for the first time with this individual and told him that I had a plane to catch to the U.S. and that his line of questioning had nothing to do with the fact that they could not see in my bag. “You have already searched my bag thoroughly why then the continued questioning,” I asked. “ I have to go now so if you are done with these unnecessary questions I am leaving, you have all my information so if you are done with me I have to go,” I stated.” He said it was routine but what he forgot to mention is that it was routine to question all blacks traveling via air. They asked the same stupid things to the same people. You would think that they would have a record of who travel often between the two cities. 

My advise folks, if you are not in a rushed take the road and avoid this discriminating act against us because of the color of our skin. “IF YOU ARE BLACK, YOU ARE A DRUG DEALER IN THE EYES OF THE NICARAGUAN GOVERNMENT.”

Sergio Leon stated that he was exhausted about writing about this particular issue to no avail. I personally know that it will never change unless something drastic is done. If you can accept it like I have come to, then just go on as you would normally do and be prepared to answer the questions and be searched every time you travel via air.  If it weren’t because of family and friends I would think it twice before visiting Nicaragua.

I spoke to some black students studying in Managua, and they told me that on a daily basis they are subjected to the same stupid line of question when waiting on the bus to go to school and to go back home. They are also harassed when they visit the different shopping centers on the Pacific. In order to avoid this they stay at home as if they were in prison.

The situation gets to you sometimes, and it makes me wonder about the humiliating experience the South Africans traversed during the apartheid era when Nelson Mandela was jailed for standing up for the rights of his people. We need to make our cause known throughout the world. We need to bring our ordeal to the United Nations. We need to ask the US black caucus to look into the matter and force the US government to impose any kind of sanctions to make a change. Look at the latest big drug bust in Nicaragua; all happened on the pacific. Not one black has been caught with drugs, yet we are targeted and discriminated against. The black students live in fear that someday one of those unscrupulous officials may plant something in their backpacks. Is living in fear a way to earn a degree? No wonder many of the students drop out of school and go back home for good.

“Change will only come when we stand up and let our voices be heard.” Gregory Lewin



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