first minister for wales to attend celebration

Next week the Campaign will celebrate 25 years of support for Nicaragua. The Campaign was launched in Cardiff in October 1986. Soon there were 12 local groups the length and breadth of Wales, working to support the Sandinista Revolution, and opposing the US intervention in Nicaragua (and several other countries in the region).

A quarter of a century later and the solidarity continues. The context is completely different. In 1986 Wales was under Thatcher’s lash, and suffering the results of the failure of the Miners’ Strike. In Nicaragua the War had started to bite, and lead by 1990 to the Sandinistas loss in the election, and 17 years in the political wilderness.

Today Wales has its own government, though the threat to Welsh services and commuities has re-appeared. In Nicaragua the Sandinistas won again in 2007, with a Government which has carried through steady improvements in the living standards of the poorest over the past five years. The election in Nicaragua in a month is important for the country, the region and the future of ALBA.

The celebration is being held on October 6 in the Pierhead Building in Cardiff, with Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, and Nicaragua’s Charge d’Affaires in the UK, Guisell Morales-Echaverry.

The event will be chaired by Vaughan Gething AM, with contributions from Leanne Wood AM and Julie Morgan AM, who has been to Nicaragua twice. There will also be a contribution from David McKnight, who has spent the last seven months in Nicaragua filming events in the country, and an exhibition of photos by Christian Petersen, a photographer who documented one of the Welsh delegations in 2007.

The Campaign concentrates on raising awareness about what is happening in the country, and the problems ordinary people face, particularly because of the unfair economic and political system. Twice – in 1988 and 1998 – the group raised tens of thousands of pounds in response to Hurricane Joan and Mitch. Since 1994 the Campaign has organised 11 delegations to Nicaragua, and over 80 people have gone on the visits.

They have also supported smaller long term projects. Over the past four years the Campaign has raised £20,000 to help Los Quinchos, a centre which works with children who live and work on Managua’s rubbish dump.

This year the Campaign has helped two public sector unions – UNISON Cymru and UNE in Nicaragua – to twin. They have also been supporting links between Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast university, the URACCAN, and Bangor University.

“Although the Campaign is relatively small, we continue because of the commitment of people who go to Nicaragua on our delegations,” said Ben Gregory, who attended the first meeting in 1986. “It is a tribute to the Nicaraguan people, and their ability to inspire as they struggle for a better life, in their communities and their country.”

As part of the celebrations there will be a Nicaraguan film festival in the CeLL, Blaenau Ffestiniog, on October 15, and a public meeting with David McKnight in Mold on October 17. The Campaign is also organising it’s 12th delegation to Nicaragua in February 2012.

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