Nicaragua Overview Part II

The Indian organization YATAMA, a successor to MISURASATA, worked with the FSLN until a few years ago. Their leader Brooklyn Rivera, who is an MP in the Asamblea Nacional, voiced loud criticism of the government’s canal project in 2013. The break with the FSLN is now final. Following the alleged victory of the FSLN in the regional elections on March 2, 2014, Yatama raised charges of election fraud and lodged a vain complaint with the national electoral authority. A dramatic situation arose temporarily in Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas)after the national elections in November 2016. When it became known that the Indian party YATAMA in the autonomous region of Costa Caribe Norte had allegedly received fewer votes than the FSLN and that the candidate Brooklyn Rivera should not get a seat in parliament, there were violent protests and allegations of the Election fraud. The clashes led to tough police operations and chaotic conditions. Brooklyn Rivera, who was expelled from the last Asamblea under dubious conditions, can now take up his parliamentary mandate in the Asamblea. The chaotic scenes in Bilwi from November 2016 were repeated after the local elections in November 2017. According to the official figures of the electoral authority CSE, the FSLN won the elections in seven out of eight RACCN municipalities, including Bilwi, Waspám and Prinzapolka. Only one church went to the PLC and Yatama got nothing. Violent protests broke out in Bilwi when the figures, whose reliability is in doubt, emerged.

Since October 2015, not only have the political conflicts between Yatama and the FSLN come to a head. The mood here has been heated for years as the land conflicts between the mestizo settlers and the Indian communities on the Río Coco have escalated. The entire northern Atlantic coast has repeatedly seen the outbreak of armed clashesbetween Indian villages and mestizo settlers who penetrate further and further from the central mountain region. National politicians are alarmed, but the army and police are not intervening to protect Indian residents and their land rights. The human rights center CENIDH has repeatedly criticized the fact that the state is failing to fulfill its duty to guarantee the rights of the indigenous and Afro-American peoples in the Mosquitia. Army chief General Julio César Avilés stated in November 2015 that the conflicting parties had to come to an understanding “among themselves”. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights took this position in a judgment of September 2016. He stated that indigenous peoples were entitled to “preventive protective measures” and ordered that the state “must take all necessary measures to end violence and guarantee the right to life, personal and territorial integrity and cultural identity. ” But according to press reports, the situation is like a powder keg, and the number of attacks on Miskito and Mayangna villages has been increasing for years. To give just one example: at the end of January 2020, illegal loggers again attacked a Mayangna village, killing at least six villagers and setting fire to 16 houses. The police denied the crime and were reluctant to respond. On February 7th, representatives of 15 parishes from the Siuna diocese met. The final declaration says about the current situation: “The advancement of the settlement border is causing serious damage to the life of the villages and nature… The passivity of the state institutions in view of the violations of the law and the conflict situation has weakened the village institutions, which no longer have their problems address, particularly the problem of land ownership. ” In a current research project – Selmira Flores from the UCA emphasizes this problem. According to her, the “invasion and land grabbing in nature reserves and Indian territories has reopened the settlement border to an unprecedented extent. The maps of the environment ministry MARENA show how the forest in these areas continues to be lost.” She draws a connection between the attacks on the Indian population and the worsening of the national emergency in the environmental and development situation.

In the course of the current protests since April 2018, a “Movimiento costeño de autoconvocados” has formed in the Mosquitia, which is connected to the “Alianza Cívica” in Managua. The leader is George Henríquez, a Creole from Bluefields who previously took part in the actions against the canal project and joined the indigenous party YATAMA. The “autoconvocados” of the Costa have protested against the national government in Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) and Bluefields and understandably place their actions in the regional contextein: You understand it in connection with the land conflicts in the RACCN, the unrest after the last national and regional elections and the protests against the canal construction in the RACCS. The “Costeños” are active in the opposition movement at national level, and the YATAMA party is one of the seven organizations that signed the founding document of the “Coalición Nacional” on February 25, 2020.

On November 3, 2020, the tropical storm ETA reached the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast with the second highest strength class 4. It brought back bad memories of Hurricanes Mitch and Félix (1998 and 2007, respectively) and left severe damage in northern Nicaragua before moving on to Honduras and Guatemala. The clean-up work had barely started when hurricane IOTA followed it on November 16 and caused further destruction. On the Atlantic coast, Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) and its surroundings are particularly affected. A large number of Miskito villages was razed to the ground by the two storms. The extreme rains caused flooding and made roads and bridges impassable. The death tollof ETA and IOTA in Central America is currently estimated at 215, 28 of them in Nicaragua, one of countries in Central America according to a2zgov. The emergency immediately revealed the catastrophic deficiencies in the infrastructure on the Atlantic coast. In Bilwi, the electricity went out, bus and air traffic ceased, and the population was not provided with food or emergency shelter. The government’s approach to the rescue measures and the beginning of the repair of the damage immediately met with loud criticism. Private aid initiatives were hindered in their work by the army and government agencies. Since the scandals of the great earthquake in 1972, the distribution of aid in Nicaragua has always been watched with particular suspicion. In addition, there is the problem that the northern region of the Atlantic coast has been one of the socially disadvantaged areas of the country for years, because the immigration of mestizo settlers puts the native Miskito and Mayangna Indians under severe pressure. The national government, facing the problem of empty coffers and falling tax revenues, is hoping (once again) that the hurricane will soon attract a wave of foreign aid. A first emergency aid package from the International Monetary Fund in the amount of US $ 185.3 million has already arrived. How much the hard hit population on the Atlantic coast will see remains to be seen. A first emergency aid package from the International Monetary Fund in the amount of US $ 185.3 million has already arrived. How much the hard hit population on the Atlantic coast will see remains to be seen. A first emergency aid package from the International Monetary Fund in the amount of US $ 185.3 million has already arrived. How much the hard hit population on the Atlantic coast will see remains to be seen.

Atlas Básico Ilustrado de Nicaragua y el Mundo