The capital city of Managua is a good lens through which to view Nicaraguan history. Its expansive views, shaded buildings, and streets with no name give us physical places to anchor our stories of colonization, injustice, insurrection, revolution and resilience. This is the first in a series about Managua.
The “Cuesta de Plomo,” which rises up a steep incline on the main road heading west out of Managua to Ciudad Sandino and León, is one of the bloodiest sections of highway in the country – and not just because of fatal traffic accidents that happen frequently on its grade. When I first learned it was called “Lead Hill,” I imagined the name came from leaded gasoline exhaust that vehicles expelled in black plumes while struggling to climb the slope. Later I found out its official name is Martyrs’ Hill, and the “Lead” in its nickname refers to bullets, because the Cuesta de Plomo used to be a dumping ground for the bullet-riddled bodies of victims of Somoza’s Guardia Nacional.