For the past few months, the political crisis in Venezuela has dominated headlines in international news.
On Thursday, January 10 at 10:00 a.m., controversial leftist leader Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second 6-year term as President of Venezuela despite deteriorating economic and political conditions throughout the country. Although Maduro’s inauguration crowd was undeniably more sparse than in the past, a few leaders and foreign dignitaries made a point to make an appearance and show their support for the regime in spite of widespread international criticism.
Desde abril de este año, el Estado de Nicaragua ha experimentado un desorden completo, y el gobierno de Daniel Ortega y su esposa (y vicepresidente), Rosario Murillo, están en una posición de encrucijada. Esta situación empezó con manifestaciones después de la decisión de Ortega de reducir el presupuesto para los programas de seguridad social en Nicaragua, que afectaría a millones de ciudadanos.
Since the introduction of coffee as a staple in morning routines worldwide, it has become one of the most traded commodities on the planet; in fact, it was second only to oil this year (teleSUR 2018). The sudden demand for coffee helped to launch Latin America into the industrial age, with countries like Brazil and Costa Rica (which now leads world coffee production at around 45 million 60 kilogram bags per year) setting prices and international standards for the industry.
This past Spring, what started as student protests against the Nicaraguan Government’s negligence resulting in a forest fire has turned into a civil war. The forest fire, which destroyed over 12,000 acres of protected rainforest in the course of a week was so severe according to many due to the Nicaraguan government’s refusal to ask for aid from neighboring countries, and could have been extinguished much faster and have saved much more of the delicate ecosystem (Agren, 2018).
Nicaragua’s current President, Daniel Ortega, rose to power as a revolutionary leader in the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (otherwise known as FSLN or Sandistas) that overthrew the dictatorship by removing President Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979 (Perez). In 2007, Ortega was elected as president and because of his sound economic policies and social spending, was re-elected in 2011 and 2016 (Perez).
Caridad was a woman of great endurance. Rising at 4am and retiring at midnight, she spent her long days cooking and selling mondongo, or tripe soup, to the men returning from the brothels in a small town in Colombia. With her sparse earnings, she supported her six children and was able to send her eldest, a son, to school. He went on to become a university professor and in turn provided education for his younger siblings. Not unlike mothers around the world, Caridad fought for her children’s survival with resilience and strength.
Indigenous communities in Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast are working to secure rights to broad "territories" based on traditional patterns of use and occupancy. Nicaragua’s dispute over indigenous lands has claimed at least 30 lives since 2008. Two of those lives were lost just a few weeks ago over this century-old dispute. The conflict has existed since the Mosquito Coast was annexed to Nicaragua more than 155 years ago. The Miskitos were never conquered by the Spanish – for a long while, the region was a British protectorate.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” goes the old saying. Eighteen years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tingni to property, by granting a concession to a company to carry out road construction work and logging without the consent of the Awas Tingni community. Despite the native communities’ autonomy over the lands and preferential treatment under the law, a modern colonization-style land grab is underway as the Nicaraguan government looks the other way. The subsequent failure by the government to resolve the situation led to a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [PDF] in 2001, which confirmed the existence of the indigenous land rights in question, including the right of participation in matters affecting land rights and the requirement of the consultation with the Awas Tigni indigenous peoples.
But the law favors the indigenous. Perhaps the most important piece of legislation is law 455 on the Communal Property System of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast and of the Bocay, Coco, Indio and Maíz Rivers which, from 2003 on, also stipulates the right to self-government in the titled communities and territories. The 2006 General Education Law also recognizes a Regional Autonomous Education System (SEAR). When the Sandinista National Liberation Front came to power in Nicaragua in 1979, they subsequently had to face an armed insurgency supported by the United States. Indigenous peoples from the Caribbean Coast, primarily the Miskitu, took part in this insurgency. In order to put an end to indigenous resistance, the Sandinista government created law 28 on the Autonomous Regions of the North and South Atlantic (RAAN/RAAS), on the basis of a New Political Constitution and the Autonomy Law.
Yet, despite the constitutional and statutory provisions upholding indigenous land rights and authority, the Nicaraguan government itself has taken no definitive steps toward demarcating indigenous lands. Under the Nicaraguan civil code, all lands not titled to private owners belong to the state. It appears then that the Nicaraguan government, particularly its agencies charged with natural resource development, has approached the issue of land grabbing from the indigenous primarily from the standpoint of a party interested in securing its own property interests in the resource-rich Atlantic Coast.
Nicaragua held its presidential elections last week, and current president Daniel Ortega was elected unanimously for the fourth time, garnering 72% of votes with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his running mate (Wroughton & Pretel, 2016). The next closest competitor, center-right candidate Maximino Rodriguez, only managed to amass 14.2% of the vote (BBC, 2016). This was no surprise, as in previous months, the courts blocked the main opposition coalition from participating in the election. Mr.