2. MSCA meeting of April 28, 2019 (continued from Newsletter of May 1, 2019)
Summary with help of post-meeting notes from participants (Dave Barber, Lubia Cajas Cano, Linda Christenson, Margaret Dibble, Anita Havey, Walter Hesford, Cindy Magnuson, Celi Rivera, Susie Wiese) 1. Fundraising.
Our current account will be depleted by the end of 2019, although we can hope to gain funds from the summer letter to be sent out to members and, if we are accepted again, the Alternative Giving Market in December. Other ideas that were mentioned included programs on Amazon, the Moscow Food Co-op, application to the 2020 Idaho Gives program, finding a Nicaraguan product to sell (like the Bainbridge Island association that sells Nicaraguan coffee), and an online auction. 2. New activities.
Ideas beyond helping the schools and students of Villa El Carmen were discussed, such as supporting local entrepreneurial efforts, exploring the uses of solar energy in rural areas or needs for water purification. Any such effort would require much research and preparation. 3. Sending money to Nicaragua.
Lubia and Celi, who have experience with Latin American financial systems, both personal and through University of Idaho programs, advised that we may have a problem getting money to Villa El Carmen, in particular if Nicaragua is suspended or expelled by the Organization of American States, or as a result of sanctions by the United States or the European Union. We might explore using local Nicaraguan banks (if there is one in the Villa El Carmen area) or placing money in a bank of another country which has a branch in Managua. 4. What’s happening politically in Nicaragua.
The country is in a new stage of its year-long crisis. This new stage began in late February when the government initiated negotiations with an opposition group called Alianza Cívica para la Justicia y la Democracia.
The Alianza’s short-term goals
are the release of around 760 political prisoners, safe return of the estimated 60,000 exiles (mostly in Costa Rica), and an end to repressive tactics by the National Police and the judicial system. The Alianza’s long term goals
are a return to a semblance of democracy in the executive and legislative branches and objectivity in the judicial. The government’s goals, both short- and long-term
, appear to be to improve the national economy, and (thereby) to stay in power. The negotations sputter day by day; the Alianza insists that the government show seriousness in negotiating and resolving the national crisis but so far has not seen any.
But the start of negotiations has given renewed energy to the protest movement. There is a revived dedication and ingenuity in the protests, and a spirit largely absent, or submerged, since last summer. And the government, though imprisoning some journalists, has been unable to shut down the independent press.
5. Keeping contact with our Villa El Carmen friends. All of our scholarship students have been in contact with Dave since 2016, and most, since the anti-government protests began in April 2018, have expressed appreciation that we are maintaining communication with them and keeping up to date on what is happening in Nicaragua. Walter commented (post-meeting): “’Don't forget us’: for me this was the most important take-away from the comments you gave us from your Nicaraguan contacts. It reminds me of what we heard from Chinese students after the Tiana'men Square massacre. I think this plea could be used to motivate re-commitment to our Sister City program.”