Moscow Sister City Association Newsletter

October 2019

This newsletter was sent via the City of Moscow on behalf of the Moscow Sister City Association. This newsletter was written by Moscow Sister City Association authors and may not necessarily reflect the views of the City of Moscow.
In this issue:    Information about indigenous people in Nicaragua, prepared for the Moscow Human Rights Commission’s celebration of Indigenous People’s Day on October 14.

This newsletter is mainly a revised version of posters and a handout at the event. It ranges from the local, Villa El Carmen, to the national and international, but most of it comes from sixteen residents of Villa El Carmen and Managua, who responded to my request for information, some in great detail.

There’s a moral here. I asked twenty Nicaraguans for information, and sixteen responded. What this says to me is that Nicaraguan people are hungry for connections with the outside world and very appreciative of interest shown about Nicaragua. Perhaps we can find more ways to open communication between our two places and cultures.

Dia de la Resistencia Indigena
In the words of José Sequeira, a scholarship recipient from MSCA and recent university graduate:       
“Me alegro que la historia de mi país rompa fronteras.”
“I am happy that the history of my country transcends [breaks through] borders.”


            As described by José Isaac Dávila,   a student of physics in Managua, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua, one of the students receiving scholarships from Moscow Sister City Assocation:

José Isaac Dávila

As described by José Isaac Dávila,   a student of physics in Managua, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua, one of the students receiving scholarships from Moscow Sister City Assocation:

En Nicaragua el 12 de octubre es denominado oficialmente día de la Resistencia Indígena, desde el año 2007 cuando Daniel Ortega recuperó el poder y comenzó a imponer su régimen autoritario. Según la mentalidad del gobierno lo que se debe conmemorar no es la llegada de los españoles a América ni el mestizaje que comenzó a partir de entonces. Más bien, es la lucha contra los invasores españoles, a lo que se denomina Resistencia Indígena, el cual quiere decir la impotencia de que los españoles entraran a Nicaragua

In Nicaragua on October 12, it is officially called Indigenous Resistance Day, since 2007 when Daniel Ortega regained power and began to impose his authoritarian regime. According to the mentality of the government, what should be commemorated is not the arrival of the Spaniards in America or the racial mixing that began thereafter. Rather, it is the fight against the Spanish invaders, which is called indigenous resistance, which means the impotence of the Spaniards entering Nicaragua.

Vielka Águilar

This description comes from Vielka Águilar, a student of English in Managua and a part-time teacher of English in a public school in the Villa El Carmen area. She is also one of our scholarship recipients.

On October 12, Nicaragua commemorates the Day of Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance, a date on which the country, which is multi-ethnic, recalls the beginning of the struggle of the original peoples against colonial domination and the claim of their ancestral rights. To commemorate the date, various events are traditionally held such as musical demonstrations, fairs, dances, declamations and gastronomic tastes, which aim to keep the cultural heritage of these peoples alive.

In schools we celebrate it  by doing traditional dances and we prepared a variety of traditional food like Gallo pinto, Tortilla con Cuajada, Indio Viejo, Nacatamales, Caballo bayo, Vigoron; desserts like Arroz con leche, Cajetas de Leche, Atol de maíz, Cosa de Horno and many others. Also traditional drinks such as: Pinol, Pozol con leche and Chicha.

The lands of Managua, like all of the Pacific in Nicaragua, were populated in pre-historic times mainly by the Niquirana and Cchorotegas tribes. Villa El Carmen was the seat of the pre-Columbian tribes who left their mark on the municipality in pottery and petroglyphs.

pottery from municipio
pottery from municipio
Pottery and petroglyph from municipio (county) of Villa El Carmen: photos sent by Roberto Castillo.
petroglyph from municipio

2. Ecotourism and anthropology in Villa El Carmen 

            According to an unnamed tourist (, August 2015)

“This week I came to know the tourist circuit [part of which is a privately own forest reserve between the town and the Pacific coast named Quelantaro] within the municipality [county] of Villa El Carmen. Mango Solo and Río Lodoso are two communities where ancient tribes left their legacy – petroglyphs and some pottery. They are located 5 kilometers east of the town center of Villa El Carmen. The access is through a dirt road in good condition and in these archaeological sites were discovered petroglyphs or carvings in stone in the rocks that border a small river in the area. 

Cinthya with her three children and a friend, 2016
Cinthya with her three children and a friend, 2016

According to Cinthya Guillen, resident of Villa El Carmen,

“There are 37 figures carved and drawn in stone about 3 miles from town. These were created by the Chorotegas Indians about 800 years ago. Evidently quoting an official publication, she says, “Its main reason lies in promoting sustainable rural tourism development to improve the quality of life of communities, emphasizing the empowerment of women and promoting the active participation of children, adolescents and youth.” 

Sign for Reserva Silvestre Quesantaro
If you look hard at the bottom, you can see “Alcaldía (mayor’s office) Villa El Carmen"

The plan is wide-ranging:

“Tourist activities can be carried out as interpretive trails with specialized guides, volunteering with the community, scientific research, sustainable agriculture, observation of flora and fauna, educational and environmental camps, with virgin beaches, boat trips, sport fishing, cultural and archaeological hiking . In addition to surfing, horseback riding, yoga, massages, learning experience preparing local typical cuisine. Tours to the ecotourism circuit of the municipality: composed of a variety of hotels and restaurants of all categories and specialties.”

I don’t know how much of this is real, how much is future, how much is fantasy, but it is a plan that the natural assets of the area would support, given the financial resources to develop it. – Dave B

Geilin Castro Aburto

3. Article by IWGIA: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs 

Geilin Castro Aburto, a university student of English, one of Sister City’s scholarship recipients, and teacher of English to children in Managua, recommended this article, which describes the political situation of indigenous people in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua IW 2019[]    
This is the article’s abstract: “There are seven indigenous peoples of Nicaragua. Nicaragua has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ratified in 2010. Yet, its indigenous communities are facing a great number of challenges, especially in terms of construction through communal lands affecting their livelihoods, and in terms of the state failing to comply with its legal obligation to honour the title of the lands in favour of the indigenous communities.”

The article summarizes the groups of indigenous people in Nicaragua: “The seven indigenous peoples of Nicaragua [estimated at 8.6% of the total population] are distributed, historically and culturally, between the Pacific coast, central and northern  Nicaragua  –  inhabited  by  the  Chorotega (221,000), Cacaopera or Matagalpa (97,500), Ocanxiu or Sutiaba (49,000) and Nahoa or Náhuatl (20,000) peoples – and the Caribbean (or Atlantic) coast, inhabited by the Mískitu (150,000), Sumu-Mayangna (27,000) and Rama (2,000) peoples.” 

It discusses problems and some progress of indigenous people:Some measures have been taken by the Inter-American Court and Inter-American Commission (IACHR) to support the indigenous communities in cases of illegal invasion of non-indigenous persons or "settlers" in legally titled indigenous territories. In 2016, the IACHR granted precautionary measures in favour of 12 communities. However, the State of Nicaragua did not respect the precautionary measures, and community members are still unable to move freely and use their lands to engage in hunting, fishing, and fruit gathering activities because they are faced with armed settlers who are invading encroaching upon their lands.”
The article concludes: “Nicaragua’s position in the face of the social and political crisis that is shaking the country has been similar to its position over the last decade with regard to indigenous and afro-descendant peoples: categorically deny that the events are happening; blame the victims, discredit and criminalise the work of those denouncing the events – particularly through harassment and persecution of the staff of human rights NGOs that have supported indigenous and Afro-descendant demands. . . .” 
“The indigenous peoples are continuing their resistance, the rest of the population are on the alert, and the diaspora is active abroad making known the country’s internal situation and approaching international bodies such as the European Parliament, the OAS and the UN in search of support for a negotiated and diplomatic solution to the crisis.”

4. A New Canal, to Rival Panama’s, across Nicaragua? 


The Government VS Indigenous People

Since the 19th century, the United States and other countries have considered constructing an interoceanic canal across Nicaragua. The railroad and shipping tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt attempted to build a canal, but the plan failed.  Interest faded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the Panama Canal was planned and built.

But a canal across Nicaragua has been a dream of some – including the legendary rebel Agosto César Sandino, who died in 1934 – for a long time. The dream was revived in 2006 when the Nicaraguan government developed plans to build the Nicaraguan canal, as a rival to Panama’s, responding to modern globalization, able to handle larger ships, and reducing (for example) the distance between New York and San Francisco by 500 miles.

The project was originally to be financed by a Chinese billionaire, but he lost most of his money in a Chinese stock market crash in 2015-16. The project was thought to be dead but in recent months Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega has been trying to revive it.

Supporters argue that building the canal would provide jobs and greatly enrich Nicaragua, the second-poorest country in Latin America.

Opponents argue that the canal, going through a large lake and environmentally sensitive areas, would be an environmental disaster. Requiring the deepening of Lake Nicaragua, the largest fresh-water lake in Central America, it would involve dredging 1.2 BILLION tons of sediment. It would plow through some of the most environmentally rich and sensitive areas in Nicaragua.

It would also require taking substantial land away from indigenous people in the Atlantic-Ocean area of the country. According to Amnesty International, it would "forcibly displace an estimated 120,000 people, including Rama and Creole communities from protected indigenous territories on the Caribbean coast."

Proposed route for Nicaragua canal
Effects of a Nicaraguan Canal
An excellent article, describing the impact of a canal on indigenous people is William M. Adler, HERE BELONGS TO US, Pacific Standard, 2/12/2019, updated 4/18/2019 The article discusses ‘What happens when the authoritarian leader of a small, poor country unilaterally hitches its economic and environmental fate (and, not incidentally, his legacy) to the whims and demands of the global economy? At what cost to national identity and sovereignty, to civic life, participatory democracy, the natural world?’

Thanks to all these for information and assistance:
Bianka Águilar, Villa El Carmen, high-school senior
Vielka Águilar, Villa El Carmen, current university student of English
Ana Julia Castillo Lopez, Villa El Carmen, educational administrator in the Ministry of Education,
resident of Moscow for half-year in 1998, and liaison of Moscow Sister City Association
Roberto Castillo, Managua, university safety inspector
Geilin Castro Aburto, Villa El Carmen, current university student of English and teacher at the Colegio Nórdico     Internacional, Managua
José Isaac Dávila, Villa El Carmen, current university student of physics
Dominique Esquivel, Léon, current medical student
Jacziri Flores Rodriguez, Villa El Carmen, current university student of Finance
Sandra Gallardo-Cook, Moscow
Cinthya Guillen, Villa El Carmen
Laura Ivonne Gutiérrez, Villa El Carmen, current medical student
Doris Mendoza, Managua
Mario Mendoza, Villa El Carmen, educational administrator in the Ministry of Education, and liaison of
Moscow Sister City Association
Xóchilt Emily Selva, Managua,
José Sequeira, Villa El Carmen, university graduate in psychology
Yerlan Sequeira Muñoz, Villa El Carmen, university graduate in Business & Finance
Sandra Torres, Ciudad Darío
Betzi Vega, Villa El Carmen, university graduate in Business
Photo from Villa El Carmen celebration of Día de la Resistencia Ingígena, October 11, 2019, sent by Yerlan Sequeira Muñoz
Photo from Villa El Carmen celebration of Día de la Resistencia Ingígena, October 11, 2019, sent by Yerlan Sequeira Muñoz

Newsletter by Dave Barber, President MSCA

MSCA Mailing Address:
PO Box 8367
Moscow, ID 83843

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