By John Kotula
The last two weeks have seen turmoil and tragedy in Nicaragua. While there is still tension and many unresolved questions about the future of the country, fortunately, the violence has abated and there seems to be commitment to peace and working out the issues through dialogue. There is cautious hope that Nicaragua can once again claim its well-deserved title as the safest country in Central America and that once again it will be possible to showcase all of the strengths, beauty, and richness the country has to offer. [It is important to note that during the height of the demonstrations, no tourists, foreign visitors, or foreign residents were harmed.]
Over many years, The Alliance for Global Justice/Nicaragua Network, has organized delegations to give participants the opportunity to experience firsthand all that Nicaragua has to offer, to learn about important issues of human rights, and to support the people of Nicaragua. There are currently two delegations scheduled for this summer, and perhaps now more than ever, coming to Nicaragua would be an act of solidarity.
Having some Spanish language ability is always an asset, but not necessary to participate in either delegation. The cost of each delegation is $1,200. The price includes translation, meals, housing, in-country transportation, and supplies for work or art. It does not include international airfare. For more information about the ATC delegation contact: [email protected] and for the cultural delegation contact: [email protected].
Agrarian and Worker Struggle in Nicaragua: Celebrating the ATC’s 40th Anniversary
June 18-28, 2018
Led by Friends of the ATC, Co Sponsored by Nicanet/AFGJ
Honor the history of worker struggles for land and dignity in Nicaragua!
Nicaragua’s Rural Workers’ Association, or Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ATC), was founded in 1978 by landless farmworkers who, inspired by liberation theology, decided to change their lives and defend their rights in the midst of the 45-year Somoza regime. The ATC would become a major force for worker power in the Sandinista Revolution, through continuous farmworker literacy programs, collective bargaining, and women’s worker councils. The ATC is now a strong voice for food sovereignty and agroecology, both in Nicaragua and internationally as a member organization of the Latin American Coordination of Organizations from the Countryside (CLOC) and the global peasant movement, La Vía Campesina.
Update from trip organizers Friends of the ATC, ATC and Via Campesina Nicaragua:
The delegation will first travel to Estelí to learn about the historic organizing of the ATC with farmworker unions and agricultural cooperatives that has taken place over the last four decades, as well as learning about the Sandinista Revolution and current coyuntura [historical juncture] of Nicaragua. We will see an example of how Nicaraguan women have been farming and organizing in their communities with the ATC’s ally organization Fundación Entre Mujeres. Next, the delegation will travel to the department of Chontales, where delegates will stay at the Latin American Institute of Agroecology, Via Campesina’s new agroecology training center and farm for youth cadre from organizations throughout Central America. There will also be a chance to tour local projects supported by various institutes of the current Government of Reconciliation and National Unity. The delegation will finish up in the Pacific region of the country with visits to farms that are part of the emerging Agro-ecological Corridor and stay at the ATC’s Francisco Morazán International Peasant Worker School, a center for political and ideological training for the ATC and Via Campesina.
Our delegation goes forward as planned and we still have space to accept additional delegates. Please email [email protected] as soon as possible with a brief introduction of yourself if you would like to receive more information about participating.
Artists’ Delegation Nicaragua
Aug 1-10, 2018
This trip is designed for artists/cultural workers from the US and elsewhere to spend ten days in Nicaragua studying the culture of Nicaragua (visual arts, music, poetry, dance), making art, working with Nicaraguan artists, and creating/restoring a mural. It is based on the idea that the political revolution and the cultural revolution in Nicaragua are one and the same, particularly as manifested in el muralismo of the 80s and its continuation in contemporary Nicaragua.
An update from John Kotula, trip leader: Paul Baker Hernandez, the other trip leader, and I have been forming collaborations with Nicaraguan cultural and arts organizations to make the trip exciting, creative and informative. We will visit and work with the following organizations on a variety of activities: Casa Ben Linder (mural creation and restoration), La Escuela de Comedia y Mimo (circus arts, movement), Compas de Nicaragua (dance, jícaro carving*), Hermanamiento para La Educacion Cultural y Arte (children’s art classes and La Gigantona**), y El Panal Café (music and revolution). During the ten days, we will work closely with Nicaraguan artists, make day trips to Granada and León, and have time for art making. Each of these organizations has deep historical roots and will be informing us on the role of culture in the revolution and its continuing importance in Nicaragua today. John Kotula is a visual artist with a particular interest in the mural movement of the 80s. Paul Baker Hernandez is a musician and song writer with knowledge of the music of the revolution and a particular connection to Victor Jara and the New Song Movement.
- A march for peace and justice organized by the Catholic Church drew thousands of people in Managua to pray for those whose lives were lost in the violence of the previous week and for the success of the dialogue between the government and social sectors. (El Nuevo Diario, Apr. 29)
- Thousands of Sandinista supporters marched in the capital on April 30. President Daniel Ortega promised to defend peace and stability. “Nicaragua has been building peace amid immense pain and 50,000 deaths in war imposed by the usual interventionists.” The rally commemorated the sixth anniversary of the death of FSLN founder Tomas Borge as well as May Day. He blamed “the same people” for the current violence, but said, “Above all, committing ourselves once again to the fact that violence does not return to Nicaragua.” He promised a national dialogue mediated by the Catholic bishops and a Truth Commission to investigate the student (and non-student) deaths that occurred during the demonstrations. He led a minute of silence for those who died. (Informe Pastran, Apr. 30; El Nuevo Diario, May 1)
- The Association of Rural Workers (ATC) issued a statement reaffirming its support for the Sandinista government and its commitment to continue to defend the achievements of this new stage of the Revolution. The statement also stated that this is a moment to continuing to strengthen peace and stability, citing these as the pillars of development and social justice. (El 19, Apr. 24)
- The Cuban Foreign Ministry released an official statement denouncing “attempts aimed at destabilizing the Republic of Nicaragua, a country that lives in peace and where remarkable social, economic and security advances have been made in favor of its people.” (Telesur, Apr. 29)
- Fitch Ratings, an international credit rating agency, warned that political instability could negatively affect Nicaragua’s creditworthy rating. The statement pointed out that it currently rates Nicaragua as a “B+ with a stable outlook” for credit risk. The violence that began with protests against social security reform will likely cause the country to fall below the 5% economic growth projected for this year. (El Nuevo Diario, Apr. 28)
- Sources close to the Police said that President Daniel Ortega accepted the resignation of National Police Chief Aminta Granera. Granera was one of the few women ever to command a national police force and a former nun. She has been a target of increased criticism after accusations that police used excessive force against students demonstrating against government-backed reforms to stabilize Nicaragua’s insolvent social security system. (Confidencial, Apr. 28)