Independence Day Parade

To celebrate its 1821 Independence from Spain, Nicaragua has a marching band competition every year. In the past, it has taken place in the national stadium; this year, it was for the first time conducted as a parade down the Highway to Masaya. The three hour parade included not only the marching bands, their associated dancers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, police officers, and members of the armed forces, but also student “brigades” (government-sponsored clubs) dedicated to sports, environmental protection, and transit!

At one of the main intersections along the highway, Plaza of the Victories, a viewing platform was set up for the President and other dignitaries. I ended up watching the parade (along with a teacher and some fellow students from Spanish School) within about 200 feet of the viewing platform. It was pretty incredible to be be separated from President Ortega (as he gave a speech echoing Hugo Chavez in condemning the threat of Yankee expansionism) by only 200 feet (and only one police officer).

The opposition newspapers put a spin on the whole event; La Prensa wrote that it was “more of a salute to Ortega and his family than a parade.” The government also broke with precedent by the prominent display of the FSLN party flag, in addition to the customary Nicaraguan flag. President Ortega wasn’t there at the 3:00 scheduled start of the parade, and it ended up beginning about two hours late after raining: “The students, with their war flags, were there from 1:00 PM, and when Ortega appeared they were already wet and almost covered in mud, because, owing to being tired, they had sat on the ground.”

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