NicaNotes: Nicaragua Hit by Two Giant Hurricanes in Two Weeks—Donate to Help!

Nicaragua is going to need help to rebuild!

Nicaragua and Central America got slammed by the second hurricane in two weeks, with Hurricane Iota, the strongest in history to hit Nicaragua when it made landfall just 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta hit less than two weeks before.

Again, Nicaragua was the most prepared country in the region. 160,000 people were evacuated from the danger zone, but two devastating hurricanes within two weeks would tax the resources of the wealthy nations, much less Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the hemisphere.

“Almost the entire country is in a national emergency, because it has been one hurricane after another, and this impacts all of Central America,” President Daniel Ortega said, according to state media.

The Alliance for Global Justice and allied solidarity groups are raising emergency funds through the existing Nicaragua Solidarity Fund “Padre Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann”. The hardest hit part of the country is the North Caribbean Autonomous Region, home to the Miskito and Mayagna people and the largest extant rainforest north of the Amazon.

Disaster officials estimate that more than 80,000 families have been uprooted or otherwise affected. The damage is catastrophic and widespread. Nicaragua is going to need help to rebuild. The US NICA Act has cut it off from most multilateral loans so it is up to you and me to help make up the difference. Please make a tax-deductible contribution today at https://bit.ly/nicaraguasolidarityfund or send a check to Alliance for Global Justice, 225 E 26th St., Ste. 1, Tucson, AZ 85713. Put “Nicaragua Hurricane Recovery” in the memo line.

NicaNotes: “The Land is Our Mother”: Testimonies from the Gloria Quintanilla Women’s Cooperative of Santa Julia, Nicaragua

When a group of campesinas in the community of Santa Julia, Nicaragua, founded the Gloria Quintanilla Cooperative in 2008 with the Rural Workers’ Association (Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo – ATC), one of their basic rules was that men were not allowed to hurt women. With much struggle, they have rid their rural community of machismo and established a high value on women’s work. In collaboration with the ATC and the Sandinista government, the women have fought for and won land titles in their names, their own homes, access to education, improved roads, and most recently, a community water well.

In this new publication, “The Land is Our Mother,” the women of the Gloria Quintanilla Cooperative explain that they consume what is native to the land so their children and grandchildren can be healthy. They use agroecology to ensure that the land, their second mother, stays strong. They prioritize education and involvement of youth in their organization so that the next generation carries out the Gloria Quintanilla Cooperative’s vision for advancement in Santa Julia and Nicaragua.

These testimonies were collected as part of a project of the Friends of the ATC’s July 2019 “Solidarity with Nicaragua” delegation. You can read all the published testimonies here.

Excerpt from “The Land is Our Mother”:

Lola

My name is Lola del Carmen Esquivel González. I am from Nicaragua and represent the women of the countryside.

At the very young age of 11 years (during the Somoza dictatorship), I worked in the fields, the campesino life. I didn’t have land; I was an agricultural worker. It was hard because there was no education, no protection for children. There were no rights for women. There was no healthcare. My mother and I were nomads, moving through various departments looking for work, harvesting cane sugar. We didn’t have a home. I became a woman: I learned to walk with a machete, pick coffee and cotton and cut cane, sell fruit, and clean rooms in Corinto, Chinandega.

In 1979, at the age of 14, I encountered the Rural Workers Association (ATC) and I woke up. I never thought I would learn to defend my rights, to defend the rights of others. The main thing was to be in solidarity, to see ourselves not for our color but for the heart we have to serve.

Ten years later, I learned to write my first letters, to train myself; I learned what a forum is, what it was like to speak in public (a process that made me sweat and tremble). Then it allowed me to do concrete things like form a union and go to the Ministry of Labor with a worker. This also allowed me to stand up at the mayor’s office, to fight for the right to water, the right to have roads. The ATC guided me on what my rights are and how to apply them by organizing.

In 1983, we came up with the idea of forming a union under the name of Imelda González, a woman heroine of the same caliber as myself who has since died. We had the idea of forming a cooperative in 2008.

All these years, from 1979 to 2019, have been a very rich accumulation of experience that has allowed me to defend my rights with all my might. If I see a woman being abused, I get involved and defend her. If I see the government being bad-mouthed, I get involved and defend it. I was a woman who never went to school, yet today I have traveled to other countries to speak out and talk about all of the good things that we have in this country from the perspective of the peasantry.

The main achievement of the Revolution is property. It’s important that everyone has their piece of land. The second point is the struggle for water. The third point is organization: if we were not organized, we would not be able to achieve all that we have here. The fourth point is education because a country without knowledge is not prepared to struggle. Even though I didn’t go to a school and neither did Eloísa, we are happy that Lea, Claudia, and all the young people are studying, because the community continues developing.

The other point is food production because we cannot live without food. Today the land is diversified. There is no one who doesn’t have avocados, bananas, or yucca. The change is gigantic. Twenty years ago we had to borrow rice because there was no food. Now we have food in the community. It is very important because if there is education and there is food, there are people who want to move forward.

Read Lola’s full testimony and access all seven testimonies of the publication here.

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

US$742 Million in Hurricane Damage
On Nov. 24 Minister of Finance and Public Credit Iván Acosta reported that the economic damages caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota are equivalent to 6.2% of Nicaragua’s Gross Domestic Product. Acosta specified that in total, US$742 million is the estimate, of which US$617 million is in damages and US$121 million in losses. “Over six percent of the GDP is very high in terms of what reconstruction means; we must make the maximum effort with the international community to mobilize resources to rebuild the economy,” said Acosta. He added that the fishing sector suffered great losses, so the recovery of the livelihoods of the population dedicated to this activity is a priority. (Radio La Primerisima, 24 Nov. 2020)

Hurricane Recovery Efforts as of Nov. 23
Recovery efforts after the passage of the powerful hurricane Iota are advancing in the northern Caribbean, the mining triangle, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia and other regions. Recovery of maritime access to Puerto Cabezas is a priority to bring essential supplies. The electrical system has been restored to 95%. The government, through SINAPRED, sent a new shipment of humanitarian aid with roofing materials to families in the municipalities of Rosita and Prinzapolka and on Nov. 22, twenty-five trailers with roofing materials for affected families left for the Mining Triangle. In Nueva Segovia, roofing materials and stoves with gas tanks were delivered to families especially in Ocotal and Jalapa.

Vice President Rosario Murillo said that of 160,597 people who were sheltered for Hurricane Iota, only 8,746 people from Bilwi, Prinzapolka and Waspam remain. The government has already delivered 267,770 sheets of zinc roofing, stoves and gas tanks, mattresses, blankets, hammocks and equipment, distributed in Bilwi, Las Minas, El Cuá, Bocay, Wiwilí, Pantasma, Matagalpa, Madriz, Nueva Segovia, Rivas, Managua, Chinandega, Boaco Estelí, Chontales, Ocotal and Granada. Ninety-five percent of communications service in the Caribbean had been restored. The Bilwi dock, destroyed twice by the hurricanes should be fully repaired Nov. 24 to receive the IV Maria ship, which will unload fuel for the Puerto Cabezas Power and Petronic energy company. The towns of Alamikanbang and Prinzapolka are gradually returning to normal with reconstruction, in spite of the devastation suffered to housing. See photos: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:110025-familias-afectadas-por-iota-reciben-plan-techo-en-bilwi (Informe Pastran. 23 Nov. 2020; 19Digital, 20 Nov. 2020)

INTA Providing 100,000 production packages to farmers
The Institute of Agricultural Technology has begun to provide Bilwi, Prinzapolka, Waspam, Las Minas, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia, Rivas, Carazo, Granada and Boaco with 100,000 production packages for small and medium-sized producers, which consists of improved seeds, tools and inputs to recover food security with planting and harvesting of corn, beans, plantains, bananas, vegetables, tropical fruits, roots and tubers, fishing equipment, among others. Technical support will also be provided to producers through INTA. (Informe Pastran 23 Nov. 2020)

Caribbean Insurance Facility Responds Quickly
The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) issued an official statement Nov. 16 stating that Nicaragua will receive a payout of US$10.7 million from its country insurance policy for natural disasters. The Fund will be used to purchase food, medical supplies, and construction materials to respond to the needs of the affected population. Minister of Finance and Public Credit Iván Acosta stated, “On behalf of the Nicaragua Government we thank the CCRIF team for quickly evaluating the situation and supporting the countries of Central America and the Caribbean in their most critical moments.” Founded by the Community of Caribbean States (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Development Bank, CCRIF is the world’s first multi-country risk mechanism and the first to develop policies that release funds based on calamity factors rather than on the basis of damage assessment, which accelerates the disbursement of funds during an emergency. (Nicaragua News, 19 Nov. 2020)

IMF Approves Loan for Nicaragua
The Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Iván Acosta, announced a loan of US$185 million from the International Monetary Fund to boost the different productive sectors. “It is oriented to strengthen production, to strengthen the structure and attention capacities of the health system and also as a budget support that will be incorporated in future budgets to give us more capacity for economic reactivation.” The official reiterated that Nicaragua is negotiating with multilateral organizations for more resources to address the emergency caused by hurricanes IOTA and ETA. (Radio La Primerisima, 20 Nov. 2020)

More Aid Arrives in Matagalpa
Truck shipments from Managua arrived in Matagalpa with zinc roofing, stoves and other items to be delivered to the families affected by Hurricane Iota. In this department, one of the places most affected is the municipality of La Dalia, where a section of the Peñas Blancas Massif collapsed in a mudslide killing several people. The authorities are working to move families that still remain in high-risk areas, since their first concern is to protect the lives of the people. (Radio La Primerisima, 22 Nov. 2020)

More Rebuilding Aid for Different Departments
The National System for the Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters, SINAPRED, sent a new shipment of roofing materials and stoves to the areas affected by Hurricane Eta and Iota on Nov. 21 to continue the restoration process. Materials are going to Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Matagalpa, and also to Rivas. Another shipment will go on Nov. 22. Before sending more shipments to the North Caribbean Autonomous Region they must wait for the level of the Wawa River to drop. (Radio La Primerisima, 21 Nov. 2020)

Search for Missing in Mud Slides Continues
Specialized brigades continue searching on Nov. 20 for people missing in the Peñas Blancas Massif, El Tuma-La Dalia, where a landslide claimed the lives of at least nine people. In the country there are 21 dead and 2 missing from the disaster. Many have been lost in mudslides. (Radio La Primerisima 20 Nov. 2020)

Three Members of Family Buried in Mudslide
Three members of a family that lived on El Puyú hill, the border between Waslala and Mulukukú, in the Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, were killed in a mudslide on the night of Nov. 18. The dead are Pedro Blandon, 22; Adonis Blandon, 15; and Zaida Blandon, 9. The parents, Perfecta Reyes, 43, and Arlen Blandón, 41, and a daughter, Arelis Blandón Reyes, 20, survived. Vice President Murillo explained that, late on Nov. 18, an evangelical pastor informed Mulukuku authorities that the waters of the El Puyu River had washed away in a mudslide a house located on the bank where the Blandon Reyes family (members of his congregation) lived. At dawn on Nov. 19, brigades of the Army, the Police and the Mulukukú mayor’s office went to rescue the family, where they confirmed the tragedy. (Radio La Primerisima, 19 Nov. 2020)

Restoring Potable Water Service
The Nicaragua Water and Sewage Company (ENACAL) reported on Nov. 18 that potable water service has been restored to more than 10,000 homes affected by Iota. The service was suspended preventively to 64,900 homes on Nov. 16 together with preventive suspension of electricity during the hurricane. Water continues suspended in many areas due to water turbidity. (Nicaragua News, 19 Nov. 2020)

Hurricane Iota, Third Preliminary Report, Nov. 19
A report released by the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry on Nov. 19 stated that the priority of the Nicaraguan government has been protecting lives with assistance, provisions and care for people evacuated to shelters since before the arrival of Hurricane Iota Nov. 16 in the evening. Also prioritized were high vigilance at points vulnerable to landslides and flooding, and the cleaning and clearing of streets, roads, bridges and more. Over 100,000 emergency responders were mobilized from all branches of Government, the Armed Forces, the National Police, the Sandinista Youth, the National Fire Department and Community Brigades, to help with humanitarian and rescue efforts. 160,000 people were evacuated and accommodated in 1,195 shelters and 2,500 solidarity houses. As of midday on Nov. 18, 50,700 people remained evacuated.

Nicaragua’s road network reported a total of 28 affected bridges, of which 20 had been repaired. Five more were projected to be functioning again in the next 24 hours. Three were destroyed and work would need to be done to restore travel over the coming weeks. The transit of vehicles is guaranteed in most of the country. There was no passage across the Wawa River in the Caribbean. Nearly 500 trees fell on the section of road that leads to Bonanza. They have already been removed. Road communication with Costa Rica was re-established. For this recent emergency, the Ministry of Transportation mobilized 2,338 workers. As of Nov. 18, 81 health units had been affected including 11 permanent hospitals, 1 provisional hospital, 15 clinics, 42 health centers, 5 maternity houses, and 7 other health service facilities. Telecommunications had been re-stablished with Bilwi. (Nicaraguan Embassy Report, London, 19 Nov. 2020)

New Homes in Managua
Vice President Rosario Murillo announced on Nov. 23 the delivery of 100 new homes as part of the Bismarck Martinez program in Managua. “On the 30th of this month we will be delivering 100 new homes to 100 families who thank God for having their beautiful, safe house,” she said. (Channel 4, 23 Nov. 2020)

Covid-19 Report November 24, 2020
From Nov. 17 to 23 the Health Ministry reported 46 new registered cases of Covid-19, 50 registered people who recuperated and one death. Since March 18 there have been 4,629 registered cases, 4,410 people recuperated and 160 deaths. (Nicaragua Sandino, 24 Nov. 2020)