Every month a different colleague sends us quick impressions from on the road. This time David Olmos tells us about flags flying at half-mast in Nicaragua.
"Chávez is dead!" Our workshop trainees at the University of Managua immediately started typing away on their phones. The rumor was quickly confirmed and before long it was all over the media. As trainers, we attempted to continue our discussion on "image size and composition" but the students obviously had their minds elsewhere.
The death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has stirred up emotions in Nicaragua. The social programs initiated by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega have more or less relied on Venezuelan financial support. Nicaragua has adhered closely to Chavez' political course and funding is estimated to be about $500 million per year. But the exact amount isn't known. Ortega's government claims that it comes from private sources, and so the money is taxed outside the national budget and exempt from parliamentary monitoring.
At the end of the workshop, some of the participants talked to me about the passing of one of Latin America's key figures. Some wanted to go to Managua's Revolution Square, where Ortega was leading a tribute to Chavez. The turnout was huge, much like it was in Caracas. Still, opinions are split. TV, radio or newspaper reports quickly give you a sense of their political leanings. The daily paper La prensa, for instance, reported on the death of an authoritarian leader, one who had severely harmed the Venezuelan population. Other media, such as the television broadcaster Canal 13, are calling him a hero, a new Bolivar who had stood up to imperialists and fought for the poor.
There's now a phase of uncertainty, and Nicaraguans and other Latin Americans are closely following developments in oil-rich Venezuela. Meanwhile, flags are flying at half-mast in Managua. I can see them clearly from my window.
Project Manager David Olmos has been conducting DW Akademie workshops in various Latin American countries since 2008. His focus is on TV journalism and multimedia storytelling. Olmos helped design and develop an academic program for environmental journalism at the University of Managua (UdM). The first group of students have since graduated. Olmos has just conducted a workshop on film imagery at UdM.