Environmental Network for Central America
Over the past three years ENCA has supported an impressive variety of projects in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. They include environmental educational campaigns involving local radio broadcasts in Honduras and World Environment Day celebrations in El Viejo, Nicaragua; donations to banana workers in Managua; solar equipment for a clinic diagnosing pesticide poisoning among sugar and banana workers in support of legal actions: help for a eco-tourism centre; seed funding for organic production in Nicaragua and Costa Rica; and support for the Environmental Movement of Olancho (MAO) in Honduras which is at the forefront of environmental protests that have been met with serious threats and assassinations. Our donations are usually modest but we are always amazed by how much can be achieved.
GSN 'Women and Violence' Speaker Tour
Women throughout the Americas are calling for an end to violence against women in the region, even as levels of violence continue to rise. In Guatemala alone, more than 3,000 women have been murdered since 2000. Family members, witnesses and leaders of women’s rights organizations continue to work under threat to halt the violence and seek justice for the victims.
In spite of the staggering numbers, the Guatemalan government has done next to nothing to stem the violence. The low priority the government gives the issue of femicide is reflected in the scant resources it allocates to investigations and the almost complete absence of prosecution. There have been rulings in only 20 femicide cases since 2000. The state has also failed in its efforts to prevent these murders, and few cases of domestic violence or sexual assault are taken seriously.
Electoral observers wanted in El Salvador
The Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS) is organising two election observer missions in 2009. The first will be from January 12-20 to observe the mayoral and legislative elections, and the second from March 9-17 for the presidential elections. CIS is looking for volunteers to help contribute to free and fair elections and generate a safe environment for democratic participation.
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.
In August 2007, a group of women from Britain travelled to Nicaragua with NSC to meet coffee producers, with the aim of finding out how fair Fairtrade really is.
Study tour member Karen Lawson writes: ‘Our stay with Melba Estrada, who visited Bristol and London in 2006, brought home how tough life is for the producers. Melba, a widow with six children, keeps pigs and chickens, and grows vegetables, beans and coffee. It takes her just over half an hour to walk up the steep mountain to her plot of land. For the group, which travelled part way on horseback, the exhausting journey took over an hour. During harvest time, sacks of beans have to be carried back to the trails to be loaded onto the animals.
Rural study visit to El Salvador
Easter 2008 – Approx £1,100 (all-inclusive)
The ex-refugee community of Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) – recipient of the U.N. Award for Sustainable Rural Development – invites you for an amazing two-week experience.
Ethical: You help fund local sustainable development.
Eco: You get to explore the stunning rural environment of the Bajo Lempa region, bustling with small-scale progressive development in health, education, music and dance, agriculture and liberation theology.
The fee includes a £150 donation to the community. Monies from last year’s ethical tourism trip have been invested in the community’s library service, sixth-form college and IT centre. Previous visits have inspired a number of solidarity initiatives, including filmmaking and fundraising.
Contact: Nueva Esperanza Support Group,
169 Newcombe Rd, Handsworth, Birmingham B21 8DB.
Email: mogstim [at] hotmail.com; Tel: 0121 523 4118
20 years of solidarity between Leicester and Masaya
On a miserable wet, cold evening in September, a remarkable event took place at Leicester’s Guildhall: the celebration of 20 years of solidarity between Leicester and Masaya. Over 70 people turned out for an evening of exhibitions, speakers, music with the Red Leicester socialist choir and a performance from pupils of Whitehall School. Leicester Council leader Ross Millmot, Lord Mayor Gary Hunt and MP Peter Salbury spoke about the importance of the link to Leicester, and pledged future support.
The mayors of Masaya and Niquinohomo, in Leicester as part of an EU-funded sustainable energy project, spoke movingly of the contribution the relationship has made to their cities. Ed Brown, chair of the Leicester-Masaya Link Group (LMLG), stressed the mutual benefits of the twinning in fostering friendships and understanding through projects and exchanges.