13th welsh delegation to nicaragua – part 2

miguel descoto
Padre Miguel D’Escoto

After 4 days on the Caribbean Coast, the delegation returned to the Pacific Coast to continue their visits and meetings. The group had two busy days in Managua, including:

  • a visit to Los Quinchos, to hear about their troubles over the past year – like a lot of organisations which depend on international support, Los Quinchos lost a lot of donations and workers last year
  • another meeting with Domingo Perez frmo UNE, to discuss practical links
  • a meeting with Centro Estudios Internacionales, to discuss sexual diversity in Nicaragua, and the organisation’s work on human rights
  • an inspirational meeting with Father Miguel D’Escoto, founder of Orbis Books, a leading proponent of liberation theology; Foreign Minister in the Sandinista Government of the 80s; a President of the United Nations General Assembly last year
  • a meeting with Pedro Haslam, Minister for Families, Community, Co-operatives and the Associative Economy, who explained the attempts of the Sandinistas to revive the rural economy and establish food sovereignty
  • a discussion with Centro Humboldt, the main environmental organisation, on renewable energy
  • a meeting with the Movimiento Autonomo de Mujeres de Nicaragua (MAM), to hear about their concerns about the situation women face in the land

mapa-La-Dalia-1

The delegation spent two days in the company of Accion Medica Cristiana, a Tearfund partner, to hear about their food projects. During the two days the group had a meeting with Dr Teresa Bobadilla Castrillo, Dr Gerardo Gutierrez and Dr Francisco Gutierrez, with viewpoints on community development and food, women’s situation in the country, and the drugs problem across Central America and the economic and social effects.

After a meeting of presentations, the Campaign travelled with Dr Reyna Cordero to La Dalia, an hours drive to the north of Matagalpa. After a night in the remote community of Santa Luz, the delegation visited San Benito, to meet with members of the community, where we were guided around coffee farms, and treated to a lunch meeting with the residents of  El Progreso.

san benito
El Progreso

The group travelled back to Matagalpa, to meet an old friend, Santiago Dolmus of CECOCAFEN, one of the biggest co-operatives in Nicaragua. He gave a clear explanation of the benefits of fair trade, the need to make it even fairer (the roasters in the rich countries still take most of the money), and how the co-operative economy is developing in Nicaragua, in agriculture, but also in the service and manufacturing sectors.

Back in Managua the timetable finished with two of the best events – a visit to La Chureca again, to see how the joint project between Managua Council and the Spanish Government has transformed the rubbish dump, including providing 500 jobs in the recycling plant; 250 houses; a school and a new community centre; and a tour de force presentation by Dr Paul Oquist, Minister for National Plans, about the National Development Plan (more than one member of the delegation said they couldn’t imagine a Welsh politician presenting a similar wide-ranging vision for the direction of the nation).

The fortnight finished with two free days (that included another two meetings!). The first was spent in Granada, during the International Poetry Festival, and a short meeting with Gioconda Belli, renowned poet and author of one of the best books about Nicaragua. The second day was spent in Laguna de Apoyo, swimming and watching howler monkeys, shopping in Masaya, and meeting with John and Abigail (a Sandinista councillor) on their farm.

Thanks to everyone who helped organise the visit, including Jaime, Liz, Johnny, Juliette and Guizell. There will be a series of articles in the near future, based on the information from the delegation. 

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