If you were to drive from the CDCA through Managua, past the Huembes Mercado past the Universidad de CentralAmerica, past MetroCentro, just to the other side of Augusto C Sandino Airport, you would get to Las Mercedes. If you were to do this at a time of day when there was a shift change you would encounter swarms of people and a ton of buses. And if out of sheer interest you decide to stop and watch what happens next you would see these all of these people, mostly young girls, squeezing and hanging off the buses similar to a clown car but without the intended comedy. Las Mercedes is a Free Trade Zone.
If you were to drive from the CDCA in the exact opposite direction, on the way to Nueva Vida past Rancho de Pancho y no mas, you would come to an enormous slab of concrete. So huge, you can’t see where it ends. If you do this everyday as I do on my way to the clinic, you would see the ant sized men constructing a box on this foundation. This is the new Free Trade Zone, and this sweatshop will be the largest in Nicaragua for sure, and quite possibly Central America.
Now, if you were to walk from the CDCA office where I am right now, to the backyard you would come to a small building with a garden in front. The doors are open, the generator is in full swing, and you can hear the buzz of sewing machines. This is yet another Free Trade Zone. But this one is also a Fair Trade Zone and a worker owned cooperative known as COMMANUVI. The clothing manufactured in the backyard is made of organic cotton, soon to be grown by COPROEXNIC farmers cooperative and spun by the Genesis Cooperative (that is currently forming and building on further back in the backyard).
And thats a little bit of what it is like to be here.