MANAGUA – The U.S. Embassy this week finished its “Extreme Home Makeover: Foreign Service Edition,” by moving out of its former residence – a cluster of temporary, pre-fabricated buildings fondly referred to as the “Gringo trailer park” – and into its new, pimped-out crib.
The new, $81 million state-of-the-art embassy is fully equipped with modern amenities and is designed to be more user-friendly and accommodating to visitors.
Whereas the old embassy looked like a temporarily military command unit in a war zone, the new U.S. Embassy – located just a couple of kilometers up the road from the old site – is much more aesthetically pleasing and inviting. The impenetrable concrete perimeter wall, moat and razor wire surrounding the old embassy has been replaced by a less intimidating iron gate that allows passersby to actually see the embassy grounds and facilities from the street.
The fire-breathing dragon has been replaced by modern security measures, including a digital fingerprint pad for all Nicaraguans soliciting visas.
“It’s actually more visible than the [old] building; it has important security considerations because of our position in the world, but thought has been given to access to the building so folks can get in,” said U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli.
The new embassy building, located in front of Parque Las Piedrecitas, on Km 5.5 on Carretera Sur, is a low-sprawling complex that covers 63 acres of property. It is part of a new standard design used on all U.S. embassies around the world, following the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The entrance to the new consular section for American Citizen Services is easily visible and accessible, facing the Carretera Sur.
A larger waiting area and better organized consular section will allow U.S. citizens to get in and out quicker and more comfortably during American Citizen Service hours, Monday through Fridays, 1-3 p.m.
The spacious new consular facility will also allow the embassy to handle the increase in Nicaraguan visa applicants, who account for 85% of the some 20,000 annual visitors to the U.S. Embassy Consular Section.
The embassy also has modern new facilities for press conferences and receptions, as well as a new information resource room that is open to all.
The old embassy building was meant to be a “temporary” structure that was built after the 1972 earthquake knocked down the previous embassy residence. The temporary structure – meant to house the embassy for no more than five years – ended up being the U.S. diplomatic mission’s foster home for the next 34 years, until it was thankfully vacated last week.
The old property is in the process of being sold to an investment real-estate group, according to the ambassador.
The new facility, which has been built to seismic codes, is a symbol of the United States’ continued commitment to Nicaragua, Trivelli said.
“We wouldn’t have gone through the time and expense had this place not been important to us,” Trivelli said of the new embassy. “Nicaragua is a close neighbor and it’s in our interest that our neighbors are democratic and prosperous and are stable and have a cooperative security posture.”
New Hours, Contact Info
New U.S. Embassy is located in front of Parque
Las Piedrecitas, Km 5.5 on Carretera Sur.
Federal Benefits – Mon-Fri, 10-11:30 a.m.
Am. Citizen Services -Mon-Fri, 1-3 p.m.
Switchboard – 252-7100
Fax – 252-7300
Consular Services – 252-7888
USAID – 252- 7100