COURSE LAUNCH THIS SATURDAY, MAY 21!
Have you ever missed a study delegation you would love to attend because of time, money, or family obligations? Our hybrid delegation was developed just for you!
Have you ever wondered how the women from a poor, developing country—Nicaragua—have managed to be world leaders in terms of educational achievement, representation in government, and women’s health? Then read on to find out how you can participate in “Women in Nicaragua: Power and Protagonism”—a virtual course with an optional in-person visit to the country, facilitated jointly by the Alliance for Global Justice and Casa Ben Linder.
This novel approach to a study delegation includes the options of participation in a virtual course only, or combining the virtual course with an in-person visit to Nicaragua. The course will hold six sessions (each two hours long), with three classes before and three classes after the optional in-person delegation. The delegation dates are August 6-15, 2022, and the virtual classes will be held on six Saturdays between May 21 and October 8.
The course launches this Saturday, May 21 at 10:00am Nicaragua time, 12:00 noon Eastern time, and 5:00pm UK time. It will begin with an overview of the Nicaraguan government’s plan to give women more rights, which has its roots in the Historical Program of the FSLN from 1969.
We are very pleased to have Yolanda Areas Blas of the Women’s Secretariat of the ATC—Rural Women’s Movement, to give our keynote speech. She will be followed by Becca Renk, who was born in the U.S. and has lived in Nicaragua for the past 21 years, working with Jubilee House Community in Ciudad Sandino.
In a format that will be applied to most of the classes, participants will get to ask questions after the presentations. There will also be time for classmates to get to know each other, building bridges towards future collaboration. Subsequent class sessions will include women who have directly benefited from government pro-poor and pro-worker programs, a panel discussion on U.S.-directed hybrid warfare and its impact on women, and representatives of Nicaragua’s Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities speaking about the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions and how they have affected women’s lives.
During the two sessions in September, those who travel for the August delegation will have an opportunity to talk about the most interesting aspects of their visit and to reconnect with their Nicaraguan friends and other solidarity activists.
The August 6-15 delegation has a packed itinerary, including meetings with women members of the legislature, the Institute of Women, and the Ministry of the Family, Community, and Cooperative Economy (MEFCCA). We will visit a health clinic, maternity home, and speak to health workers. We will meet with trade union members, including visits to some of the tourism sites where they work, visit a women’s police station, and talk to women police officers. We will learn about educational opportunities for women, including at the National Technological Institute. And then we will spend three days with different women’s communities learning about their own programs, cooperatives, and efforts to end violence against women.
Course participants who are unable to travel in August will be connected to their classmates via social media for a real vicarious experience—the next best thing to being there!
The classes will be conducted in English and Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation over zoom. This is a unique opportunity to build community among those who care about women’s rights, overcoming language and distance barriers. All who care about Nicaraguan women are welcome to join us. There is no charge for the virtual course, but those who can afford it are encouraged to contribute to our scholarship fund to help low-income women attend the August delegation. Find more information and register for the classes here (please note the DONATE button). Once you register, you will have access to the course reading materials.
For more information and to apply to the August 6-15 delegation, click here.
We hope you can join us online, in-person, or both!
By Nan McCurdy
Sunday, May 22, Nicaragua Webinar: Light & Legacy: Ben Linder’s Work Continues
Please join us on Sunday for this 75-minute webinar about the continuing legacy of Ben Linder in El Cuá-San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua. The speakers will also address progress in the nation as a whole. The webinar begins at 3pm Eastern/1pm Nicaragua/12 noon Pacific/8pm Greenwich UK. Please register here. The “Light & Legacy” delegation will report their recent observations of hydroelectric and rural development projects, universal health care, the vaccination program, COVID-19 response, and 99% electrification of the country (with over 75% renewable energy generation). The presenters are: David Brookbank, social worker, former Witness for Peace long-termer; Susan Work Best, retired educator, 17-year resident of Ciudad Dario; Kathy Albrecht, longtime solidarity coordinator from New Mexico; Bear Albrecht, communications technician, Veterans for Peace member; and Becca Renk, community development worker for over 20 years in Ciudad Sandino, delegation coordinator through the Casa Ben Linder, a solidarity project of the Jubilee House Community.
Exports Increased 16% over 2021
The Export Processing Center reported on May 12 that exports totaled US$1.4 billion between January and April 2022, a 15.8% growth compared to the same period in 2021. The products with greatest demand were gold – US$314 million dollars; premium coffee – US$302 million; and beef – US$240 million. (Nicaragua News,13 May 2022)
Credit Portfolio Increasing
The Central Bank published its Banking and Financial System Report corresponding to March 2022 which states that the consolidated loan portfolio of banks, financial companies and microfinance institutions totaled US$3.82 billion, a 6.6% increase compared to 2021. The credit portfolios with the highest growth during this period were personal credit 15.4%; credit card 13.3%; industrial 8.2%; commercial 7.3%; livestock 6.8%; agriculture 4.8%. (Nicaragua News, 11 May 2022)
Nicaragua Biggest Exporter to the US of Premium Cigars
The American Cigar Association reported that Nicaragua premium cigar exports to the United States totaled 14.73 million cigars in January 2022, a 19% growth compared to the same period in 2021. Nicaragua is the largest exporter of premium cigars to the United States, representing almost 68.8% of the total US imports of cigars in January 2022. (Nicaragua News, 11 May 2022)
More New Workers with Social Security than in 2021
The Central Bank published the State of the Economy and Outlook Report covering January to April 2022. The Social Security Institute incorporated 790,555 new affiliates as of April 30th 2022, 4.7% higher than the same period in 2021. The economic activities with the highest increase in INSS affiliations were manufacturing (19,000), commerce (8,500) and transportation (4,000). (Nicaragua News, 16 May 2022)
The Sandinista Government Generates Hope
According to the latest survey released by M&R Consultores on May 10, 71.2% of the population approves of the administration of President Daniel Ortega, and 69.9% of the population likes his image and personality, against only 10.2% who dislike him. Eighty-three percent consider that the current government works and carries out all its projects and programs considering the common good of the entire population, without distinction. According to the poll, 75.8% believe that President Ortega has led the country in the right direction; 80.8% state that the Sandinista Government generates hope for them. Seventy-one percent consider that the president promotes unity and reconciliation among Nicaraguans. The poll also reveals that 68% of the population has a political predisposition in favor of the FSLN. Furthermore, 86.1% of the population is satisfied with the state of the roads; 84.6% with the household electric energy service; 84.4% with the public education services; 83.5% with the interurban transportation. See more details: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias-generales/destacado/aprobacion-a-gestion-de-daniel-supera-71-por-ciento/ (Radio La Primerisima, 11 May 2022)
Good News from the 2022 Nutritional Census
The Ministry of Health presented a report on the Nutritional Census carried out March 1-9, 2022, to study the nutritional conditions of children between the ages of birth to 14 years in rural and urban areas. MINSA Health Services Director General Carlos Cruz said, “The census surveyed 1.5 million boys and girls throughout the country and found that, among children between 0 and 6 years of age, acute malnutrition has been reduced 2.3% and chronic malnutrition fell by 8.6%. Likewise, among children between 6 and 14 years, acute malnutrition was reduced by 11% and chronic malnutrition decreased by 16.5%. Dr. Cruz explained that “based on this data, programs like Zero Hunger, Family Gardens, School Lunches, and Food Production Packages will be strengthened, enhancing the efforts to eradicate malnutrition.” He added that MINSA, with support from the Ministry of Education, will be establishing the Family Support Plan that will provide guidelines for adequate nutrition, vaccination, and periodic weight and height monitoring of children. (Nicaragua News, 13 May 2022)
Renovated Estelí Regional Hospital Inaugurated
On May 12 the rehabilitation and expansion of the “San Juan de Dios” Regional Hospital in the Department of Estelí was inaugurated. The project included installation of a new electrical system and an inpatient unit. The US$561,797 project was financed by the General Budget, benefiting 230,000 inhabitants in six municipalities. (Nicaragua News, 16 May 2022)
Nearly 850,000 Doses of Influenza Vaccine to be Applied
On May 16 the Ministry of Health launched the National Influenza Vaccination Day, where 844,000 doses will be given to children from 6 to 23 months, pregnant women, young people and senior citizens. (Radio La Primerisima, 16 May 2022)
Nicaragua and FAO Sign Agreement
The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Iván León Ayala, indicated that at the global level, a new cooperation framework has been proposed to promote progress in better nutrition, production, and environmental protection, things that, he noted, Nicaragua also prioritizes in its public policies. The Nicaraguan government and the FAO signed a cooperation agreement for the period 2022-2026. Foreign Minister Denis Moncada reported that it establishes three strategic areas including resilient production, sustainable rural investments, and sustainable ecosystem management. He said that the objective is to help achieve results that contribute to the “National Plan to Fight Poverty and for Human Development 2022-2026,” with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (Radio La Primerisima, 17 May 2022)
Nicaragua Has Best Roads According to CABEI
In an exclusive interview with journalist Celia Zamora on Channel 8, the president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, said “In Nicaragua we have quite a few important projects. First of all we have the road project which is connecting the Caribbean Coast with the rest of the country. Currently we can say that Nicaragua is the country with the best roads [in Central America]; and not only are they good, but they are also expanding.” Other projects that CABEI is financing for Nicaragua are first-world hospitals. Mossi said that people come from other countries to see how Nicaragua is building these hospitals. He emphasized that Nicaragua is also taking electricity to all corners of the territory. “We are working with the electric company to strengthen the transmission lines and regional energy trade; all this so that when Nicaragua has a dry year, it can buy cheaper energy from another country or when Nicaragua has a lot of energy it can export it to neighboring countries.” (Informe Pastran, 16 May 2022)
National Assembly Changes Status of NGOs that Act as Companies
On May 17 the National Assembly approved the Special Law for the Change of Regime of Legal Entities, so that those organizations that have commercial purposes are transferred to that legal regime. The change of regime of five Non-Governmental Organizations was approved. These organizations did not comply with the non-profit organization statutes. The entities are: Asociación Española Nicaragüense, Terreza Club Association, Nejapa Country Club Association, Cocibolca Equestrian Center Association and the Chinandega Country Club Association. Deputy Wilfredo Navarro stated that the change of regime to mercantile requires these companies to pay the necessary taxes as any other business entity. “In the case of these clubs, which enjoyed NGO status but were not non-profits, there is no desire to punish them; it is simply to establish equality with the business sector which must pay taxes,” said Navarro. (Radio La Primerisima, 17 May 2022)
COSEP President and Vice President Sentenced for Conspiracy
Michael Healy and Alvaro Vargas, former President and Vice President of the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise, COSEP, were found guilty on April 29 of conspiring to undermine the national integrity and for conspiring against the rights of the Nicaraguan people and society, violating the Constitution, the Law of Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self Determination for Peace, The Law of Sovereign Security as well as the Penal Code. They were found guilty by Judge Angel Jeancarlos Fernández of the Fourth District Penal Court in Managua. On May 10 they went before a Sentencing Judge where Healy was sentenced to 13 years and Vargas to nine years in prison. Both had been arrested on October 21, 2021. The current President and Vice President of COSEP are César Zamora and Scott Vaughn, neither have commented publicly. These are the last trials and sentencing of those accused of similar crimes as well as of fraud, money laundering, illegal possession of firearms, manufacture, trafficking, possession and use of restricted weapons, substances or explosive devices. (Articulo66.com, 10 May 2022)
Nicaraguan Banana Workers ‘Poisoned’ by Pesticides Fight for Justice
Thousands of banana plantation workers left sick or sterile after working with a noxious pesticide [Nemagon] in the 1970s were dealt a blow this week when a French court ruled against their claims for compensation. For nearly five decades survivors have fought for compensation from multinational firms that Nicaraguan courts found responsible for damages incurred by the workers. Just in the municipality of Tonalá “There were four plantations with up to 4,000 workers each,” 60-year-old farmer Luis Gomez said as he described the time from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. “It was where they paid best, they had hostels for employees and bananas were shipped every three or four days.” For his work there as a teenager, however, Gomez was diagnosed years later with infertility. “That joy ended in the sadness of not having children,” said Idalia Paz, Gomez’ wife, through tears. Gomez and Paz are among 1,200 farm workers who had their claims against three multinational chemical giants rejected by a French court on May 11. In 2006, a Nicaraguan court ordered Shell, Dow Chemical and Occidental Chemical — which had marketed Nemagon in Central America –even after it was illegal in the US — to pay $805 million in damages to workers. The ruling was upheld on appeal in 2013.
But the money never came, and many of the victims have since died. The US-based multinationals withdrew their assets from Nicaragua, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, and insisted Nicaraguan courts lacked jurisdiction. In 2018, the plaintiffs took their case to France under a law there that allows enforcement of a foreign court order. The courts there could have seized some of the three companies’ European assets, and used them to compensate the workers. But French judges found that Nicaraguan courts did not have jurisdiction in the case. DBCP, the active ingredient in Nemagon, was banned in the late 1970s in the United States after it was found to cause sterility in male workers, but continued to be used on plantations in other countries and has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in Latin America. Their lawyer, Bernard Zavala, explained to them that “they denied our claim because the judges had no jurisdiction over the companies.” “We were disappointed,” said Paz. “We were expecting a ruling in favor of the sick.” The plaintiffs said they would appeal.
https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220513-nicaraguan-plantation-workers-poisoned-by-pesticides-fight-for-justice (France24, 12 May 2022)