Nicaragua is now not only experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, but also a post 2018 Uprising recession and the continued violation of most fundamental political rights. This means that the most vulnerable people are having to confront situations of greater stress, including the loss of jobs, and lost remittances as many migrants who had been providers returned.
Therefore NHLSCP is faced with the challenge of creating programs that address the most basic need as it is; food security. For this, we are moving ahead with three efforts described below. Through the Education Program we will have a focus on providing immediate short-term nutrition support for the most vulnerable population (children and families that do not have any income) in Troilo and Goyena. A second effort will aim at increasing family food production in Goyena, and hopefully doing the same in Troilo in the near future. Finally, we are offering clean cookstoves at lower cost that will provide health and cost saving benefits to families
NHLSCP has always paid attention to outside forces harming Nicaraguan families, from US support of the Contras in the 80’s, to neoliberal trade policies, to Hurricane Mitch. Now climate change is having increasing impacts in rural families. But the main solutions aren’t in Nicaragua but here in the US.
So over the past nine years we have helped create different New Haven area efforts to address climate. The first step is being honest about the threat, and to us, the extreme weather, extinctions, forest fires, sea level rise, and possible runaway feedback loops are all signs that this is an emergency. So we – and our partners at the New Haven Climate Movement – work with The Climate Mobilization, and organization calling for bold solutions (mobilization) that meets the scale of the problem.
Recently, a proposed Green New Deal has generated a lot of energy and support across the US. The GND calls for moving to a clean energy/carbon neutral country as fast as possible to limit the damage of climate disruption. It’s definitely worth supporting.
Any change in climate and weather patterns harms impoverished communities who have few resources to respond to the more extreme storms and intense droughts/heat waves (imagine Nicaragua even hotter!). So we are very anxious what the future will bring and are working hard to address carbon emissions here and improve well being and climate resiliency in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua has entered a new phase in the political struggle. As Paulo Abrão, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) explains, the repression of protesters started with, “….traditional repression with a disproportionate use of police force against the demonstrators.” The second (phase) was what the government called a “clean-up operation” in which it sent pick-up trucks of highly armed anti-riot police and hooded paramilitary forces together with a bulldozer to destroy the roadblocks on the highways and barricades at the entrance to cities and neighborhoods, and to kill, wound or scatter the people protecting them. ….We are now in a third moment, a process of criminalizing the demonstrators by using the institutions and justice system to detain them and promote judicial actions and processes against them.”
Below are comments from NHLSCP staff about the situation in the Leon area.
“Suddenly you hear in the news of kidnappings, murders, or persecutions of people or friends you know…. It is a moment where you break emotionally and ask “to stop all this!”. However, we have to continue and fight for this situation to change, …. in our own minds, and with families, friends and the communities where we work.”
“The economic situation is affecting us greatly, and many things have gone up in price. The moms who are in charge of buying the food for school lunches tell me, “…. everything is more expensive, but we are looking for a way for the kids to eat.” Doña Melania and many other women lost their domestic jobs in Leon; some who are merchants are no longer selling the same amounts; and other women like Darling who is a mother, are thinking of migrating to Costa Rica to get more income.”
“At the same time, emotional problems are aggravated by not having sustenance in their homes, causing depression and stress among adults. There are more episodes of family violence now, with people not knowing how to handle the situation. Parents are also more vulnerable to being manipulated by necessity by politicians.”
“People continue to live in fear because of the criminalization of protest. There’s now fear of working openly with others and with civil society groups defending human rights. The state of Nicaragua is criminalizing peaceful protest, free organization and meetings, judging the people and organizations that support these initiatives…..But we continue to work on the ideological empowerment of women, so that they can have a critical vision in any situation of violence, abuse and injustice.”
“Laws here are now created at the pleasure and whim of the central government, to centralize more information and to control the different economic actors in Nicaragua.
The political instability is not only reflected in the economy. There have also been an innumerable seizure of private lands by people who claim to be sympathizers of the ruling party. The occupiers point out that they are allowed by authorities to enter private lands and this creates terror for the entrepreneurs who own those lands and fear they were targeted for supporting the groups that demand freedom and democracy in Nicaragua. In the community of Troilo there have been two serious cases, and two properties were taken by these people.”
Excerpt October Amnesty International Report: “From the beginning of June, the government of President Daniel Ortega intensified its strategy for repression in a so-called “clean-up” operation, targeting protesters with arbitrary arrests, torture, and the widespread and indiscriminate use of lethal force by police and heavily armed pro-government groups….Released six months after a state crackdown began in response to public protests over social security reforms, the new report Instilling terror: From lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua documents grave human rights violations and crimes under international law that the Nicaraguan authorities committed between 30 May and 18 September.”
In the midst of this crisis, the New Haven/Leon Sister City Project continues to support the right of Nicaraguan people to choose their own government and create the future direction of their society without hostile interference from other states or non-state actors.
NH/LSCP Board Statement Regarding Recent Violence and Protests in Nicaragua
The New Haven/Leon Sister City Project has developed in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people for over 30 years. Our mission is deeply rooted in the advancement of social justice. Nicaragua has recently experienced a very concerning surge of repression and violence.
• The New Haven Leon Sister City Project condemns violence against all people and supports a comprehensive dialogue that promotes peace and respects universal human rights as defined by national and international law.
• The New Haven/Leon Sister City Project values freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly as fundamental rights in an autonomous democratic society.
• The New Haven/Leon Sister City Project supports the right of Nicaraguan people to choose their own government and create the future direction of their society without hostile interference from other states or non-state actors.
• The New Haven/Leon Sister City Project proudly continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.
El Proyecto de las Ciudades Hermanadas New Haven León se ha desarrollado en solidaridad con el pueblo
nicaragüense por más de 30 años. Nuestra misión está profundamente enraizada en el avance de la justicia social. Nicaragua ha experimentado recientemente una ola de represión y violencia muy preocupante.
• El Proyecto Ciudades Hermanadas New Haven León condena la violencia contra todas las personas y apoya un diálogo integral que promueve la paz y respeta los derechos humanos universales definidos por las leyes nacionales e internacionales.
• El Proyecto valora la libertad de expresión, la libertad de asociación y la libertad de reunión como derechos
fundamentales en una sociedad democrática autónoma.
• El Proyecto Ciudades Hermanadas New Haven León apoya el derecho de los nicaragüenses de elegir su propio gobierno y crear la dirección futura de su sociedad sin la interferencia hostil de otros estados o actores no estatales.
• El Proyecto de las Ciudades Hermanadas New Haven León orgullosamente continúa en solidaridad con la gente de Nicaragua.