Minutes of Meeting of the Board of Directors, Moscow Sister City Association - February 17, 2021
Present by Zoom: Board members Dave Barber, chr., Elisabeth Berlinger, Lubia Cajas Cano, Linda Christenson, Amy Garwood, Aengus Kennedy, Cindy Magnuson, Debbie McLaughlin, Jim Reece, Susie Wiese; and our Villa El Carmen liaisons Ana Julia Castillo and Mario Mendoza
1. Dave began with an overview: since the new government law concerning “foreign agents” [Ley de Regulación de Agentes Extranjeros, passed October 2020] is preventing us from sending funds to Nicaragua at this time, we can work to further enhance communication between the people of our two cities and study the developing political situation in Nicaragua during this presidential election year.
2. Some funds are already Ana’s bank account in Nicaragua. It was MSC (Jim, Debbie) that Ana and Mario handle those existing funds in their possession. Ana and Mario clarified that there was enough for the last of our original group of scholarship students to finish her final semester this spring. All the funds designated for 2020, for parents of elementary school children in the area schools, have been delivered.
Dave said he will inform the school principals and the four 2nd
-year students currently on scholarship that we are unable to send funds at this time.
3. Elisabeth suggested that if we continue to be unable to send money to Villa El Carmen, we can consider bringing someone from there to Moscow, as we have four times in the past. Post covid, of course.
4. A discussion followed regarding options for sending money informally to Ana and Mario, by having them travel to Miami or Costa Rica. Lubia also suggested that her contacts in Guatemala might be able to relay funds to Nicaragua. It is legal for an incoming traveler to bring up to $10,000 into Nicaragua.
Mario and Ana, who have inquired of government officials about how the law will work, explained that the requirements are many and detailed, and would necessitate use of attorneys and accountants. They said that because the law is stated so vaguely, further requirements could be imposed at any time, making approval (of receiving funds from us) uncertain.
They also said that because they work for the government, being labeled as “foreign agents” might be a political or legal problem for them. So they are not willing to undertake registration within the law. Nor are board members willing to do the authentication work (with lawyers and accountants) at our end.
It was MSC (Amy, Debbie) that we delay all funding until either the law changes or it is modified, or we know it is safe to send funds without harm to Ana and Mario, the student scholarship recipients, or the school principals.
[Post-meeting note: Although Ana and Mario in the meeting welcomed the idea of receiving funds privately and without the government’s knowledge, board members generally felt, in post-meeting messages, that we should not do this; that is, we should not try to circumvent the foreign agents law since chances of the government finding out and punishing the recipients is real.]
5. Dave said that he is in touch with the Bainbridge/Ometepe Sister Island Association; they are currently waiting to see how implementation of the foreign agents law unfolds. Dave is also attempting to get information from Sister Cities International and from other sister cities with Nicaraguan connections.
Amy Garwood and Dave Barber
Officers of Moscow Sister City Association:
Dave Barber, president; newsletter editor
Lubia Cajas Cano, vice-president
Amy Garwood, secretary
Jim Reece, treasurer
Elisabeth Berlinger, board member
Linda Christenson, board member
Aengus Kennedy, board member
Cindy Magnuson, board member
Susie Wiese, board member
MSCA Mailing Address:
PO Box 8367
Moscow, ID 83843