NICARAGUA: Solidarity and campaigns news
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.
“It was really inspiring to see the excellent work Nicaraguan trade unions are carrying out in extremely difficult circumstances and with very limited resources. We met activists from a wide range of backgrounds and I'm looking forward to sharing these experiences with British trade unionists and to maintaining solidarity links of mutual co-operation with our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters,” said UNISON member Heenal Rajani.
NSCAG is supporting the delegates to strengthen their solidarity links.
For project details: http://www.nicaraguasc.org.uk/NSCAG/youth_unionists.htm
Bristol footballers raise funds for women’s shrimp co-operative
Following on from the hotly contested COPA Sandino football tournament in May, Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC) held a women’s football tournament that raised £571 for the Lucrecia Lindo women’s co-operative in Bristol’s twin town of Puerto Morazan. According to twinning officer Alix Hughes, "the women had a great time apart from the goalie who had her nose broken by a Spanish striker". The Pink Panthers emerged victorious, and received a bottle of Flor de Caña rum as well as a trophy.
Meeting of towns with twinning links
On April 26, representatives of some of the 12 towns and communities with twinning links in Nicaragua met in Bristol to discuss the wealth of ideas and initiatives across the UK. In particular, the meeting discussed how NSC could develop ways to share information relating to its education campaign.
Support for special needs teaching
NSC supports the Nicaraguan Education forum (FEDH) and training for teachers of children with special needs. FEDH brings together ANDEN (the teachers’ union), universities, social movements such as the Nicaraguan Community Movement, and about 20 NGOs working with children, women, education and disabled people. Before the 2006 elections, FEDH agreed a New Agenda for Education, which was endorsed by all parties and is now being integrated into government education policy.
NSC is providing financial support to FEDH to publish internal newsletters and technical support to set up a website: www.fedh-ipn.org. NSC also received a grant from the AMICUS Foundation to produce a leaflet on education in Nicaragua and for a series of workshops to train teachers of children with special needs.
Visit by Nicaraguan women’s rights activists
The Central America Women’s Network (CAWN) organised a speaker tour in March by Sandra Ramos and Gladys Urtecho from the Maria Elena Cuadra Working and Unemployed Women's Movement (MEC), taking in the UK, Brussels, and Ireland. The aim was to share experiences with civil society in Europe and to influence policy makers whose decisions impact on the lives of Nicaraguan women. The MEC representatives met MPs, the European Commission, civil society organisations and the public to highlight attacks on women’s sexual and reproductive rights and the potential impact on women of the Association Agreement currently being negotiated between Central America and the European Union. For more information: www.cawn.org
From oil dependency to renewable energy
The Leicester-Masaya Link group has been involved in a multi-disciplinary project funded by the EU and British government aimed at increasing renewable energy in Central America by developing networks of local authorities, universities, businesses, national institutions, NGOs and community groups. A delegation from Leicester, including the council leader, will travel to Nicaragua and Guatemala to participate in an international symposium to disseminate and take forward the findings of the project. For more information: www.leicestermasayalink.org
Solar panels bring electricity to farming communities
‘Proyecto Sol’ in Masaya installs solar panel electricity kits in farming communities where power supplies are unreliable or non-existent. The project is run by the Association for Integrated Rural Development (ADIC) with funding from Network for Social Change, Appletree Fund, Places for People and individual donations. Following the successful installation of 20 kits in 2005, the plan is to equip 22 more houses, with a final target of around 150 installations.
The project was set up with a ‘revolving fund’ and repayments from families should enable 20 new kits to be installed per year. The kits can power two to three special light bulbs, as well as providing one socket outlet to run a radio or TV for up to three hours at a cost of £400 per household. Families repay the money over a maximum of seven years at £5 per month, which is a similar cost to mains electricity. Many hope to pay sooner, allowing the money to be recycled more quickly. For more information: www.adicmasaya.org
Environmental expeditions for young people
Between 2000 and 2006, Somerset-based K2 Adventures organised expeditions to Nicaragua for 400 young people and 70 adults. Most were hosted and linked with communities in Ocotal and Puerto Morazan through the Swindon and Bristol twinning links. All the trips focused on supporting local community and environmental projects. K2 is planning more trips in late 2008-2009, and is interested in working through schools, twinning links and youth services. Further information: Matt Cambridge - 0845 612 2005
NSC raises £29,000 for Hurricane Felix survivors
Part of the £29,000 raised has gone to a project led by the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN) to restore the production of beans and maize to guarantee food supplies for the inhabitants of the communities of Breñas Central and Ombila in the northern part of the Atlantic Coast. Funds are also supporting another URACCAN project to improve the quality of life for agricultural producers in the Wasakin community. The rest of the money has been allocated to rebuild the Maureen Courtney special needs school. A recent message from the school read: “Thank you so much to everyone in NSC for helping us in this difficult time in the life of the school and its 309 pupils.”