By Theo Bradford
On May 1, three community leaders in Santa Cruz Barillas, in Guatemala's Huehuetenango Department, were attacked by a group of gunmen allegedly due to their opposition to a dam planned for the local area. Andrés Francisco Miguel was killed in the attack, while his colleagues Paul Antonio Paul and Esteban Bernabé were seriously injured. All three men had refused to sell their land to the Spanish company Hydro Santa Cruz for the development of the "Cambalam" dam project.
Imagine trying cook on a wood fire in the dark, your kitchen filling with choking fumes from a kerosene lamp. Then the lamp runs out and next day you have to travel 20km to get more fuel. That is the routine for many families in rural areas of Nicaragua because half the population isn’t connected to the electricity grid.
This is where a project in Masaya run by the Association for Community Integration and Development (Spanish acronym - ADIC) is trying to make a difference. Working with the Leicester-Masaya Link Group (LMLG), it helps farming families by installing basic solar panel kits to generate electricity. Each kit provides enough electricity to serve three to four light bulbs and a socket for a few hours use of a TV or radio.
Over the past year the Leicester Masaya Link Group (LMLG) has been involved in a fascinating project to raise awareness about and implement renewable energy technologies in Nicaragua and Central America. The project, funded by the European Union and Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, involves working with a rapidly expanding network of partners across the region (with an emphasis on Nicaragua and more recently Guatemala) to identify and overcome the political, social, cultural and economic barriers to developing renewable energy.
Delegation of young trade unionists
In February, five young members from CWU, UNISON, UNITE/Amicus and UNITE/TGWU visited Nicaragua with the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (NSCAG). They were hosted by the National Workers Front (FNT), as part of the NSCAG Linking Young Trade Unionists project, which builds links between young trade union members in the UK and Nicaragua. The aim was to learn about how unions in Nicaragua are involving young people, exchange ideas and experiences, and develop ideas for solidarity projects.
The delegates met with young members from five of the FNT’s affiliated union federations, representing a wide range of workers in health, education, communication, law, industry, manufacturing and the informal sector. The group also met civil society and women’s rights organisations to learn more about the political and social situation.