Sunday, March 23, 2014
Margarita Antonio and David Kane
We went to Pollo Estrella because everything was closed on a Sunday afternoon. (I think) Margarita is a journalist and Miskito indigenous person from Puerto Cabazas/Bilwi. And (I think) that David worked in 1976-77 with Nicanet in 1985 in Washington DC and has been in Nicaragua for four years. He has done work with the Ford Foundation Forestry and Natural Resources.
Shelly was joined by friends from her sister city of Samoto, a couple and their daughter.
We gave Margarita and David a brief summary of our trip so far including that the Mayangna Matumbak are hoping for funding and that we are hoping to meet with the Mayangna Sauni As people here in Managua.
Carlos – An overall theme is that all of the indigenous have issues with third parties selling their land. There was the Arab man and other foreigners that are wealthy. The Eco-Battalion is more trusted than the police.
We must educate people that these are indigenous lands - through radio and other means.
Jazelle – Margarita knows her – says she can get court orders to cover xx numbers of families evicted.
Only some areas are teaching bilingual. Maybe some areas can sell their own resources.
Susan – in Dario we have good health care for women – there is a health center but no medicine and not enough money for nurse salaries on the Atlantic side. She told about the water instead of depoprevara.
Charlie talked about the overt racism between the two cultures. Said the 1894 and 1905 treaties were there. Five years ago the Council of Eldors was re-invigorated and re-created the Wihta Tara. Hector created the Congress, they voted on the people, have 178 members in a Senate and House. Congress is to meet April 20 – 23 to pass legislation. Idea of a Central Bank was presented by Jazelle’s father.
The Eco-Battalion and policed might not condone burning houses, but how else to get law 445 implemented? They are frustrated. The Nicaragua Government is not moving fast enough. Also, autonomy / sovereignty SHOULD mean that they own the resources, can export or sell them DIRECTLY instead of through the Nicaragua Government, can collect taxes, etc.
Margarita – The big picture of the coast is the background defining the relationships between the coastal peoples and the Nicaragua government. Land, health, education are issues. In 1981 the land was not split into pieces. This process today ignores the complimentary territories, which are still in negotiation. They are supposed to have Indigenous Territorial Governments elected by their own traditions – what are their traditions?
No record of the 25% of the money that is supposed to be given to the Territorial Governments exists – as to how it is being spent by them. Partly that is because they have no governmental experience or education in these matters.
There’s the issue of political parties, the Yatama and the Sandanistas. In the most recent election, people rejected Yatama and voted for the Sandanistas, but really the parties win, not the people.
The regional official institution, RAAN, is not against communal autonbomy – we aren’t making the regional government do its job. People expected the Wihta Tara to make changes but they did not.
People expect to get a salary. People expect to get meals and transportation – all of it is against our culture. People fight for these positions because it gives them income. But who represents us?
Key government positions have indigenous people for the first time in Nicaragua. We have achieved great laws. We have a right to our language and culture – this is huge progress.
There are five levels of government – National (in Managua), RAAN/S, Municipal, Territorial, and Community (clans, families).
At the Universities on the Atlantic side, people can study Law 445 and traditional medicine.
Assembly – approval of selected leaders, in community. Communities are not equal at the territorial level. There is a lack of accountability and political will to work for the people.
Drug dealing, new colonies, more than indigenous population. They may attack with guns of machetes. Saneamiento is the big issue – why do we have titles with no real will for the saneamiento? We need to stop new entries. Margarita interviewed the police chief – they drive out new invaders. Here it is different, we don’t know about the procedure – maybe they have a valid title. Corruption plays a part.
We need official sanctions against big land brokers.
There is a problem on the Honduran border – we traditionally crossed that border to plant crops, but we can’t cross any more. The gold rush is a problem there, too. We see huge timber trucks – who is authorizing this? There is mahogany going out despite the ban. Alba Forestal has a monopoly? Communities may have authorized this.
In Espaniolina a budget is needed to cover a legal advisor. Sauni As has one. Mayangnas are different in defense of the BOSAWAS reserve – it is recognized, but they don’t care about the people (?)Mayangnas are clever. Matumbak has a different experience, and Tuahka different yet because some Miskitos are included.
Education and health investment has become better, but it is never enough.
Nicaragua has a high rate of maternal deaths due to poverty and lack of transportation to the hospital. In maternal hospitals there might not be food. We just don’t have enough. In Dario, the Casa Maternos give you free food for a week. The intensive care unit in Bilwi is worse than a general room in Managua. Historically, the coast is neglected, partly due to its “autonomy”.
There was an uprising in 1987 of the Moskitos, but since 1990, autonomy has disappeared. The strength and unity of the tribes of the 1980s is not happening now, is not a common position.
The coast is a process and want things to happen faster. We don’t have the water, forests, or gold that we had before. Climate change, high influx of people, access to communication and education, different visions and attitudes exist now.
In the past, Moskitia as a nation was not conquered because the tribes were strong and united. But now Moskitia is silently invaded, horizontally, by vast numbers of poor people with different language and culture, who are becoming a majority. On the Atlantic coast we are all threatened by all of the invaders. When I traveled from Bilwi to Bonanza I felt like I was in a place that is not mine anymore. The signs are all in Spanish, not Miskitu, for example. The law of 1996 said that we can use our own language, but communities and services should use both – enforcing Moskitu is not uniform. If media reflects society and we have less than one-sixth of the population of Bilwi Moskito, it is no wonder that the radio varies from 1% to 30% being broadcast in Moskitu – we are not defending our language and culture. Books and events are more often in Moskitu. Twenty two of twenty four Moravian churches use Moskitu, but on the street, people speak Spanish, especially the youth. Jazelle is different because of her father. We self-identify as Moskitu… One group is using bi-lingual education until secondary school. Before 1894 education was in English because of the Moravian churches. In the mid-1950s, Spanish was taught to the teachers – this is happening in Honduras as well. Moskitu leaders complained, and had a campaign in 1981 for Moskitu and Mayangna bi-lingual education. By 1990 they started building bilingual autonomous education systems. (SAAR?) did not fund this and some teachers think that Spanish is better, and some parents don’t think that bilingual education is good. It might be good to teach leadership and environmental classes in Moskitu and Mayangna. There is a gender issue in leadership and in learning Spanish.
Who should pay for staff and medicine? The health ministry pays the salary of health post nurses, but the salary is very small. The Education ministry pays teachers, but the regional governments can also hire teachers, who may not be paid.
Where does the money from extracting resources go? Each level of government – National, Regional, Municipal, and Territorial is supposed to get 25%, and supposed to use it for the benefit of that territory. However, there is not a culture of demanding accountability or complaining.
Charley – Campesinos have guns and the Indians do not – this is a potential problem. Margarita – people can’t hunt or tend crops because of that. Kathy – This is true specially near Honduras and because of the drug traffickers. Carlos – Drugs are more of a Moskito issue, where land is more of an issue for the Mayangna. There were two young Mayangna shot in Espaniolina.
The Mayangna seemed to be under greater threat. They are more united and their territories were demarcated first.
The Moskitu have a more diverse point of view than the Mayangna. The women are more willing to work together and are wanting unity. Moskitu women started talking – conflict would be solved differently by women – we need to have our voices heard. Only three women have been elected, and traditionally no women have been included.
Regarding Moskitia, the land is all indigenous land, but we also accepted the titles.
Where are the campesinos going to go? The campesinos are racist against the indigenous.
What about public service announcements? We did some, but I didn’t hear them.
Some community leaders are selling land and natural resources.
Political parties are succeeding in dividing us in many ways.
Press release? Compare this government with previous governments but talk about what is not working, the community challenges.