Erthygl gan Sioned Haf, yn rhifyn newydd y Tafod, cylchgrawn Cymdeithas yr Iaith. Mae’r 14eg dirprwyaeth o Gymru i Nicaragua yn mynd ym mis Chwefror 2014.
O’n i ddim yn disgwyl clywed am unrhyw drwbl neu anghydfod mawr cymdeithasol yn y Caribî. Wedi’r cwbl, dyma le mae pobl yn eistedd yn yr haul trwy’r dydd, yn pendwmpian i gerddoriaeth reggae, yn wenau i gyd tra’n hyfed dŵr o goconyts a bwydo ar gyflenwad ddi-ddiwedd o fangos. Dyna beth wnaeth hysbysebion 80au ‘Lilt’ neud i fi feddwl beth bynnag. Ond, dim perffaith yw popeth Caribïaidd.
Bues i’n rhan o ddirprwyaeth i Nicaragua ym mis Chwefror eleni. Rhwng Costa Rica a Honduras yng Nghanolbarth America mae Nicaragua. Mae dirprwyaeth Ymgyrch Cefnogi Cymru-Nicaragua wedi bod yn ymweld gyda’r wlad ers dechrau’r 1980au. Pwrpas ymweliadau’r grŵp hwn dros y degawdau diwethaf yw i ddangos cefnogaeth i weledigaeth sosialaidd ymgyrchwyr gwleidyddol y wlad ac i gwrdd â grwpiau ymgyrchu, grwpiau hawliau a mentrau cymdeithasol a chydweithredol. Pwrpas ychwanegol y grŵp yw annog ymwelwyr newydd o Gymru i ddod ar y daith i ddeall hanes a chymdeithaseg y wlad – a’u hysbrydoli i ddatblygu syniadau gweithredol er budd cymdeithasol Cymru.
Roedd dirprwyaeth 2013 yn cynnwys sawl un person sy’n aelod o Gymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. Roedd yna chwilfrydedd naturiol gan y criw i ddeall mwy ar hawliau diwylliannol ac ieithyddol Nicaragua – ac yn nwyrain y wlad, ar yr arfordir Caribî, bwydwyd y diddordeb hwn.
Mae yna sawl iaith frodorol yn ne-ddwyrain Nicaragua – ardal awtonomi de’r Atlantig – Region Autonoma del Atlantico Sur– sydd ar yr arfordir Caribî. Maent yn cynnwys Miskito, Rama, Sumo, Creole a hyd yn oed Saesneg. Er y nifer o ieithoedd ‘lleiafrifol’ hyn, Sbaeneg yw unig iaith swyddogol Nicaragua. Fel yng Nghymru, mae gan yr ardal hon elfen o hunanlywodraeth. Fel yng Nghymru,mae yna hefyd ymdeimlad cryf o hunaniaeth. Ers 1987, cafodd pobloedd brodorol ethnig a disgynyddion Affricanaidd y Caribî yn y rhan hon o Nicaragua eu cydnabod yn swyddogol, a cham wrth gam, mae’r rhanbarth unigryw yma yn ennill mwy a mwy o hawliau dros dir, addysg, ag iaith.
Yn y trefi ymwelon ni a hwy – Bluefields a Pearl Lagoon – Creole, Sbaeneg a Miskito oedd yr ieithoedd roeddwn yn tueddu ei glywed. Mae pob un o’r ieithoedd gyda chysylltiadau hanesyddol amrywiol fel gellir ei weld yn y darlun isod a welon ni ym mwyty bach y Queen Lobster oedd yn estyn mas i ganol y lagŵn.
Yn Pearl Lagoon, cyfarfodon ni â Donna Hammond Williams, un o drefnwyr brwdfrydig grŵp datblygu cymdeithasol lleol. Gyda hi, dyma ni’n siarad gyda thair merch ifanc yn y gymuned am eu gwaith yn codi ymwybyddiaeth i gyfiawnder rhyw, cyfiawnder hinsawdd a’r argyfwng HIV ac AIDS yn y gymuned. Fe gawsom ni gipolwg ar ddeall sut oedd hi i fod yn ifanc ac yn byw ar yr arfordir Atlantig.
Roedd y tair yma a Donna yn amlwg falch o’u hunaniaeth Atlantig. Ond er hyn, datgelwyd bod yna stigma mawr i’r iaith Creole. Mae’n cael ei weld fel iaith israddol, ac yn un ni ddylid ei ddefnyddio mewn sefyllfaoedd swyddogol a pharchus fel yn yr eglwys leol. Roedd cwestiynau ymgyrchwyr Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn sbarduno Donna a’r merched lleol i drafod a chwestiynu mwy ar y sefyllfa eu mamiaith nhw yn eu cymuned. Mae’n dangos sut gall siarad am y materion yma sbarduno syniadau, dealltwriaeth ehangach a gweledigaethau newydd. Mae yna ymgyrchoedd yn mynd yn eu blaen yma hefyd. Mae’r Brifysgol gymunedol lleol yn rhedeg cyrsiau amlieithog yn y ieithoedd lleiafrifol yma. Mae’r Bluefields Soundsystem yn galluogi pobl ifanc yr ardal i ganu yn Creole a Miskito a cyfansoddi cerddoriaeth gyda dylanwad etifeddiaeth reggae arni, ac mae cymdeithasau lleol eraill yn hybu iaith a diwylliant y rhan hon o’r wlad. Diweddon ni’r cyfarfod yn Pearl Lagoon gyda cân Creole gan y merched, a can Miskitu gan y Rector oedd wedi bod yn eistedd yn dawel bach a hapus ei fyd yng nghornel yr ystafell trwy’r cyfarfod. I fod yn foneddigaidd…canon ni Fflat Huw Puw yn ôl (gyda phedwar harmoni gyda’r llaw! ).
Mae’n amlwg bod materion iaith a diwylliannol yn treiddio trwy bob cymuned, ac mae’r ymweliad yma yn pwysleisio hynny. Pan bo chi’n rhan o ddiwylliant a’i lleiafrifwyd mewn un lle o’r byd, hawdd yw deall yr herion sydd yn gwynebu lleiafrifoedd eraill y glôb. Mae’r ymgyrch ddiwylliannol-ieithyddol yn ymgyrch leol, cymunedol i bob un ardal – ydi. Ond mae’n ymgyrch rhyngwladol, ac yn rhywbeth sydd yn gyffredin i gymunedau niferus hyd a lle y byd. Felly, pan fyddwch yn ymgyrchu dros yr hawl i fyw yn eich iaith frodorol chi yng Nghymru y tro nesaf, clywch curiad y reggae, teimlwch wres y trofannau a cofiwch am gymunedau Creole, Miskito, Rama a Sumo Nicaragua yn cyd alw am union yr un hawl sylfaenol ddiwylliannol a ieithyddol yn y Caribî. Ffordd rhad o gadw’n dwym mewn Rali Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn ein hinsawdd tymhorol ni.
With the Fairtrade Wales annual conference in Swansea on the horizon (see here for details), a member of the Campaign’s delegation to Nicaragua in February has written of her experience.
Haf Elgar has written a post on the Fairtrade Wales blog (see here). In Lessons from Nicaragua she describes a visit to farmers in San Benito, part of an Accion Medica Cristiana project. She speaks about a meeting with Santiago Dolmus of CECOCAFEN, one of the co-operative organisations that supports many small co-ops in the country. To finish, she details the discussions with Pedro Haslam, Minister for Community, Co-operatives and the Associative Economy (we have written before on the blog about Pedro – see soy puro pinolero).
Gyda chyfarfod blynyddol Cymru Masnach Deg yn Abertawe ar y gorwel (gweler fan hyn am y manylion), mae aelod o ddirprwyaeth yr Ymgyrch ym mis Chwefror wedi ysgrifennu am ei phrofiad.
Mae Haf Elgar wedi ysgrifennu post ar gyfer blog Cymru Masnach Deg (gweler fan hyn). Yn Lessons from Nicaragua mae hi’n disgrifio ymweld a ffermwyr yn San Benito, rhan o brosiect Accion Medica Cristiana. Mae hi’n siarad am y cyfarfod gyda Santiago Dolmus o CECOCAFEN, un o’r mudiadau cydweithredol sy’n cefnogi llawer o’r cydweithfeydd bach yn y wlad. I orffen, mae hi’n manylu ar y drafodaeth gyda Pedro Haslam, Gweinidog dros Gymunedau, Cydweithfeydd a’r Economi Cydweithredol (‘rydym wedi ysgrifennu o’r blaen am Pedro ar ein blog – gweler soy puro pinolero).
With little surprise the re-set button has been pressed in the trial of Efrain Rios Montt. The Constitutional Court voted by 3 to 2 to overturn the decision and return the proceedings to where they stood in Mid April. There are numerous reasons why the decision has been taken, not least of them the links between Rios Montt and Guatemala’s current President, Perez Molina. Finding Rios Montt guilty opens a whole area of cases of military and former military men who took part in the atrocities.
In interviews with Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu and journalist Allan Nairn on Democracy Now! last Wednesday, the pair outline the case against Rios Montt and the reaction in Guatemala (see here). With this latest development (which again could see Rios Montt found guilty), it underlines how reactionary the judiciary has been in Latin America, siding with dictators throughout the continent. Little wonder that one of the first things that countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have done is organise a Constitutional Convention which overhauls the role of the courts.
It’s been a bad week or so for the forces of darkness in Latin America. The news that former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity was greeted with jubilation in many parts of the country. The case centred on the murder of nearly 1,800 Mayan Ixils. But the river of blood flowed far more freely than this. Rios Montt was central to the genocide carried out in the country, which killed or disappeared almost 250,000 people. Rios Montt and the rest of the genocidists were warmly backed by the Reagan government. Each new atrocity in Guatemala was greeted by US government spokespeople saying the human rights situation in the country was ‘improving’. A summary of the reaction to the conviction has been drawn up by LAB (see here).
In another blow for the mad men of the military, Uruguay has convicted General Miguel Dalmao for crimes under that country’s dictatorship. The hat trick was rounded off by the death of former Argentinian military President Jorge Rafael Videla. He died in jail, serving a fifty year sentence for kidnapping children. In reality this was the tip of the iceberg. Upwards of 30,000 people were murdered or disappeared in Argentina’s Dirty War (see here for Amnesty’s view on his passing).
It is interesting that all these convictions have emanated from within Latin American countries’ judicial processes themselves. International bodies such as the International Criminal Court (which seems to only target African dictators – see here for a piece by George Monbiot) or International Criminal Tribunals deal only with small, weak nations or the current members of the United States list of cartoon cutout baddies (however real the crimes that some of these have committed). Whole swathes of genocidists, including a long line of Latin American dictators, and the two major war criminals of the modern era – Bush and Blair – are off limits.
Apolo Santana, long time campaigner with the Clwyd Latin America Human Rights Group, praised the Rios Montt verdict. “The verdict could open the door for future charges against officials involved in atrocities during Guatemala’s 36 year civil was,” he said. “Justice is slow but eventually arrives.”
Like many of his follow Latin Americans, Apolo did not mourn the death of Rafael Videla. “The brutality of his regime was such that not even pregnant women escaped death, having their babies “adopted” by members of the military. Argentina’s military barracks became centres for torture and disappearance of thousands of people. Videla and his “buddies” (Galtieri, Massera, Agosti, Viola) ran the country until 1981 using the military and the secret police to repress any attempt of resistance to their rule. At the age of 87, this monster died unrepentant of his crimes and took full responsibility for his army’s actions during his rule, saying, “I accept the responsibility as the highest military authority during the internal war. My subordinates followed my orders”.”
There were wishful thinkers who thought (or hoped) that the ALBA would grind to a halt with the death of Hugo Chavez. Their analysis is based on a number of assumptions. One of them is that the ALBA is a way of buying political influence through selling cheap oil. As this is the basis of much Western aid, perhaps this is partly understandable. Another is that the ALBA was the project of one man, and the talk of building a new economic and social model (Chavez’s 21st century socialism) was merely rhetoric.
In fact, the alternative institutions of Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be strengthened. In Nicaragua the Parliament has passed an Act concerning trade with Venezuela within the ALBA framework. The co-ordinating committee of CELAC (the Community of Latin American States -the new Organisations of American States without the United States and Canada) met this week in Havana to continue its work of developing the organisation. Has it been hi-jacked by the Left? Hardly. The ‘Troika’ of three countries which share the main organising duties at the moment are Cuba, Chile and Costa Rica. The only two things these countries have in common is the same letter of the alphabet, and a desire to become increasingly independent of the malign influence of their Northernly neighbours. The rest is up for discussion within CELAC.
And have the organisations more closely associated with Venezuela gone into a tailspin since President Maduro replaced Hugo Chavez? Last weekend there was a meeting in Caracas which has seen Petrocaribe expand. It is the solidarity organisation which offers Venezuelan oil on favourable terms, on condition that some countries use the savings for development. The US Nicaragua Network reported the meeting thus:
The presidents and prime ministers of the countries that are members of Petrocaribe met in Caracas on Sunday, May 5, and agreed to form an economic zone which would “develop productive sectors in the participating countries.” Petrocaribe is an association of nations that purchase petroleum from Venezuela on favorable terms which allow them to invest in anti-poverty and development projects. The members of Petrocaribe are: Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Granada, Guyana, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Haití, Jamaica, San Cristobal and Nieves, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Santa Lucia, and Suriname. Honduras and Guatemala were admitted as full members of Petrocaribe at this meeting. Upon arriving in Caracas on Saturday night, President Daniel Ortega said that a major development pole was being strengthened and consolidated in Latin America and the Caribbean around Petrocaribe and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told Petrocaribe members that while the right wing expresses hopes that Petrocaribe will end, “Petrocaribe is just consolidating itself and getting stronger.” He predicted that the new economic zone, which will include “energy stability, financial stability and strengthened investment … will permit us to develop together.” He noted, “As [late President Hugo] Chavez said, in the past petroleum was an instrument of domination and now it has been converted into an instrument of liberation.”
In some ways understanding analysis of what is happening in Latin America, in Nicaragua and other countries of the ALBA, becomes more difficult, as their development models diverge more and more from our own experience of attacks on public services and living standards, under the cloak of austerity.
Two recent contributions look at what is happening in this context, one which looks at Nicaragua, the other the whole continent. In ‘Beyond Theory – the practice of building socialism in Latin America‘ – toni solo and Jorge Capelan give their usual robust and combative opinion of what is happening, and why many analysts from outside of Nicaragua and the region are getting it wrong. The article examines why the Sandinista government has maintained a working relationship with capitalists both within and outside the country, whilst at the same time moving the country towards socialism. It gives short shrift to the idea of a ‘pink Left’, and the idea that the experiments within the countries of the ALBA, but also within other countries in Latin America, are now beyond concepts of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’.
It is useful to read Beyond Theory in conjunction with another continent wide analysis, this time from the introduction of a new book, Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: the future of 21st Century Socialism. In the introduction posted this week on Alborada, it describes the development of socialism in Latin America, in Cuba in the 60s, Chile under Allende, and Nicaragua in the 80s, and in more detail the events of the last decade or so.
Though the writers of Beyond Theory would disagree with some of the conclusions of the introduction (and at least one of the book’s authors, Roger Burbach, has been scathing about the new Sandinista government), there is also considerable overlap, coming from analysts from within the continent. With the defeat of the Left in Latin America by the end of the 80s, the re-construction needed was not only political, but economic. The ‘Lost Decade in Latin America’ to neo-liberalism was in reality nearly 30 years of attacks on ordinary people. The book sums this up in a nutshell:
The Brazilian political scientist Emir Sader, in his 2011 book The New Mole: Paths of the Latin American Left, argues that the setback for socialism was so severe that it is still recuperating to this day. Socialism can be part of the agenda, but the priority must be on forming governments and political coalitions to dismantle neoliberalism, even if that means accepting the broader capitalist system for the time being.
Sader made similar points in an earlier article (see here) where he charted developments in individual countries, and the push for regional integration. As all the pieces above point out in their different ways, to understand the pace and direction of change today in Latin America, and in countries like Nicaragua, we need to remember where they’re starting from, not where we want them to be in the future.
…..everyone followed Nicaragua’s example?
The IF Campaign is preparing for the G8 Summit during the summer. Make Poverty History, during the G8 jamboree in 2005, is still fresh in the memory. Not everyone was happy with that campaign, or the results.
Again some have broken ranks, and refused to take part in the new IF coalition. Most prominent is War on Want. Here are their reasons (see here) for taking a step back from the present campaign. They have produced an excellent report on food sovereignty (see here) which underlines the reasons for lack of food for the poorest (because, of course, there is already enough food to feed everyone).
In the meeting in Bangor, David McKnight and Ben Gregory spoke about what Nicaragua has done to ensure enough food for everyone. Here’s an example from the meeting:
In food sovereignty, Nicaragua is not only a regional leader but a world leader. Again, last month, the country received praise. Nicaragua is the first country in Latin America to achieve Objective 1 of the Millenium Goals, to halve hunger.
“UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Nicaragua, Fernando Soto said, “Nicaragua has fulfilled, before the deadline, Objective Number 1 of the Millennium Objectives which is to reduce by half the proportion of the population suffering from hunger.”
The FAO will recognize the efforts the Sandinista government which has reduced hunger from 55% in 1990 to 20% today at its world conference in June.
Soto said, “In Latin America and the Caribbean, Nicaragua is the country that in terms of proportion has reduced malnutrition and hunger the most.” He added that Nicaragua is on a positive trajectory to eradicate hunger. He said that is especially impressive considering that Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.”
It has done this through the various social programmes, through developing exports to Venezuela through the ALBA, but also through seeking to re-start the rural economy after it was left to rot by successive neo-liberal governments. Though it has worked with large producers, its main focus has been on small producers, particularly co-operatives, and what they call the ‘associative economy.’ The number of co-ops have increased from 1,700 to 4,500 in the past five years.
They have a vision of creating a rural economy based on co-operation, with the traditional co-operatives that take part in the fair trade system, but also in the producers in ALBA, with the women who take part in Zero Hunger, wth the programme for basic grains. They have also been giving advice to Venezuela and Cuba about setting up second level co-operatives, which in Nicaragua’s coffee and sesame sectors have increased the quality of the product, and negotiated with international organisations like the FairTrade movement.