By Ivan Olivares (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – In two hours, fire devoured a small complex of businesses that Nicolas Bolanos and his partners and friends took fifteen years to build. What up until Monday night was the site of the event and concert promotion center BLU Nicaragua, radio station Radio Activa, advertising agency Click, and the ticket purchase agency La TiquetEra is now nothing more than a pile of twisted iron and ashes.
Bolanos states that “around 10:30 or 10:45 p.m., my telephone began ringing like crazy, with calls and messages saying that there were five pick-ups outside my business with some 30-armed men, trying to enter our offices in the Los Colinas neighborhood.”
There have been many fires in the last two months in private and public buildings that began the same way, with sightings of heavily armed paramilitaries, often in pick-up trucks usually with license plates covered up.
“They began to send me photos and videos” and the result is now known. “What we built in fifteen years went up in smoke,” Bolanos notes regretfully. He says he doesn’t know who did it, how the fire began, or if anything was stolen,” and prefers not to speculate about why. “I can only say that these were malicious damages,” he assures.
Although the volunteer firefighters responded fairly quickly, sending three trucks to try to quench the flames, there wasn’t a lot they could do, because there was so much flammable material. The result is a total loss, encompassing not only the installations, but computer equipment, two vans, two trucks and a motorcycle.
Bolanos informs that investigations are in process, led by the National Police, the fire department and the insurance company.
Solidarity from different sectors, including those involved in the local entertainment scene who have worked or collaborated with the company’s projects, was immediate.
Fifteen years of effort
Nicolas Bolanos, business and marketing manager of BLU and an active partner in all four companies, recalls the history of the business initiative: “BLU Nicaragua began more than 15 years ago as a project among friends, arranging birthday parties for those turning 15 (quinceanera parties) in San Juan del Sur, and later organizing other activities during holy week” and other dates when there’s a large influx of visitors to that touristic city.
The jump into other activities occurred when he noticed that internationally known artists came to Central America but skipped Nicaragua. He began asking himself why, and then decided to change that reality.
His initiative led him to break into that business, meaning being able to contract international artists from all genres (ranchera, electronic, rock, pop, etc. music) to present in the country, as well as all types of entertainment: the exhibition of human bodies, circuses, family shows in the National Theater, culture, ballet, etc.
These activities gave them a way to support Nicaraguan artists, be it by arranging tours with different labels in which national music was promoted, or offering new bands the opportunity to open international concerts.
“One of our goals was to have our own communications media, and we were able to do it by associating ourselves with Belen Cardenal, with whom we founded Radio Activa 101.1 FM, dedicated to transmitting electronic pop music and comedy programs,” he recalls.
In the process, they managed to create Click, a traditional advertising agency, since BLU Nicaragua, in addition to programming activities, is a “below the line” agency, meaning those who work in product promotion and organize events directed at one segment of the population or a specific demographic.
The next logical step was the TicketEra to complement the services that the other companies in the group already offered.