Below are updates we have been posting since the unrest begin in Nicaragua in mid-April 2018. The most recent information is first, you can scroll down to read earlier updates. Please keep Nicaragua in your prayers and if you are able to make a donation today, please click here, thank you so much.
July 30, 2018
Violent events have diminished, although not completely. There are still isolated cases of killings as well as arbitrary detentions. Now those detained are being charged with terrorism or helping terrorism. There were four big marches last week in Managua, two from the opposition and two pro-government held on the same dates, at different places, and other activities in other cities. The Police was present at the beginning of one of the opposition marches, so they had to change the venue. All activities were uneventful so that gives us hope that we can all make use of our right as Nicaraguans to express our opinions without being attacked for them.
Municipal authorities are busily repairing streets and damages made to properties to present a sense of normality. However, that is not the case. Many persons, including families, are fleeing the country mostly to Costa Rica, some because they feel their lives threatened but many because of the economic situation. Some economists talk about at least 120,000 jobs being lost since mid-April.
The groups participating in the national dialogue have not met for a month. President Ortega has questioned the role of the Roman Catholic Church saying they are on the side of the opposition and not fulfilling their role as mediators. However, there’s been no official disqualification from the government nor a response from the Church. President Ortega has made these accusations at rallies or in the media.
Meanwhile, our staff has been able to visit the villages, to hold he workshops that were rescheduled from previous months and to monitor community plans. It is hopeful to see that lives in the villages continue, people are working on their plots, going to school and implementing their projects. The Radio is undergoing repairs this week so we’re transmitting only on Internet. We thank very much those who supported the purchase of the tuning box so that the Radio can soon go back on air.
We are also very grateful to those of you who have donated to CEPAD, especially during these last three months. This has enabled us to meet the payroll obligations of all staff on time as well as pay for the operational costs. Thank you!
Please continue praying for Nicaragua and for CEPAD. On moving forward, CEPAD is starting to work on a healing process with the help of the pastors in the cities and the psychosocial groups in the rural in villages. I invite you to join us in these efforts when we have a more definite plan.
Executive Director, CEPAD
July 16, 2018
Last weekend, there were several events from the protesters’ movements and also pro-government rallies. On Thursday, there were several simultaneous marches called “Blue and White”—using the Nicaraguan flag’s colors–calling for an end to the violence and for early presidential elections. Then, on Friday there was a national strike where most of the businesses and work places of different cities participated. Taking advantage of the strike, the government called for “the Repliegue”, which is an annual event that commemorates the fight against Somoza that led to his overthrow. The route is from Managua to Masaya (26 kms south of the capital) and is led by President Ortega. On Friday, the protesters led a big rally in cars and motorcycles in different parts of Managua. All of these events were huge, very well attended.
However, while President Ortega participated at the Repliegue and was speaking about peace and reconciliation, the students who have been inside the National University (UNAN) since April were attacked by the Police and paramilitary forces, forcing them to take refuge at a Catholic church nearby. They were not safe there either as the church was surrounded and attacked as well. The students could not leave until Saturday morning under the auspices of the Catholic Church and the Human Rights International Commission. The population led vigils all night long, praying and asking to respect the lives of those inside the church, including three journalists. Two students were killed and an unknown number were taken into jail, without a warrant, including a couple of medical doctors who were tending the wounded.
Most of the roadblocks and streetblocks were lifted during the weekend but at a very high cost. At least 20 people were killed, including 5 policemen, many, many more wounded and arbitrarily detained in Morrito (Rio San Juan), Santo Tomas (Chontales), Diria and Diriomo (Granada), Niquinohomo, Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, La Concepcion (Masaya) and the city of Masaya itself. All of this violence has forced many Nicaraguans to flee their homes fearing for their lives as the police come to abduct them even if they were not protesting.
Internationally, the Permanent Security Council of the Organization of American States met last week and received a proposal of a resolution against the government of Nicaragua, pressing for an end to undue force, an end to violation of human rights, all arbitrary detentions and calling for preservation of life. The Council will vote in a special session later in the week.
On a hopeful side, the protesters at Nueva Guinea, who are members of the Anti-Canal Movement, the Mayor’s Office and the local Police signed yesterday an accord where the protesters lifted the roadblocks and the government officers committed to respect their lives and freedom. The accord was signed with the presence of the Roman Catholic priest. We hope and pray that the accord is upheld.
We continue asking you to pray but also to write to the President, Daniel Ortega, via the nearest Nicaraguan consulates and Embassies, urging him to give the orders to the Police and paramilitary forces to cease the violence. Every day the death count rises. By yesterday, unofficial counts were of more than 300 hundred people killed. We still think that dialogue is the only way out but all parties must really be committed to solve the situation.
Executive Director, CEPAD
June 28, 2018
The special commission of the Organization of American States that is investigating the government’s involvement in the violence in Nicaragua, has been here since last Sunday and is serving as advisor for the sub-committee for security and verification that was appointed by the Dialogue Board. Last week roadblocks at the main highways of the country were lifted by the police and paramilitary forces, which has allowed mobilization between cities. At the roadblocks where protesters resisted, the police shot and killed more people while wounding and detaining many others. According to one of the human rights groups in Nicaragua, the death toll has risen to 286 as of June 25.
All of CEPAD staff are working at all offices since last Monday, when we returned from vacation and are rescheduling activities that were not possible to carry out in May and June.
However, the levels of crime have risen. Three of our staff have been victims to robberies in different parts of the country. One of them was robbed while eating at a diner, another one was assaulted when he was going to his parents’ home in a nearby town on his motorcycle and the house of a third one was broken into in the middle of the day, when he and his wife were at work and the children were at the school. All their valuables were stolen.
Although no state of siege has been declared, everybody is home when the sun goes down as a preventive measure.
Unemployment is also rising. Businesses in the service sector, are closing or reducing operations and are laying off their employees. In the hospitality sector alone, 40,000 jobs have been lost, reported the president of the tourism chamber. Other companies have opted for sending their employees on unpaid vacations or keeping their jobs part-time and therefore with half salaries. The emblematic House of the Mejia Godoy closed indefinitely their operations this week, as well as the luxurious Hotel Mukul, owned by the richest man of Nicaragua, Carlos Pellas.
In the midst of this bleak situation, we are very grateful to you who are giving financial support to CEPAD. We also have a challenge with Radio CEPAD which is transmitting on and off thanks to our technician who is doing some repairs and working miracles. Part of the equipment failed last week and we were off the air for some time. I ask you to please consider giving to this campaign so we can reach our goal of $3,000 which is the cost of replacing the tuning box. To give directly to this campaign please go here: https://www.mightycause.com/story/Radiocepad
Your support to CEPAD will guarantee that no employees lose their jobs and that we can continue providing support and training to the 40 communities we accompanying during their 5-year plans. If you would like to give to support CEPAD’s general work please visit our website: www.cepadnica.org/donate
Damaris Albuquerque, Executive Director, CEPAD
June 18 2018
During the past week, violence worsened even more, when we thought more wouldn’t be possible. Armed people are rampart on the streets killing, hurting, and destroying property both public and private. Last Saturday, an entire family was burned to death in Managua inside their own home which served as a mattress business. People believe that the paramilitary forces did it.
This terrible situation has reopened old wounds and made new ones in the society. Hatred is increasing to the degree that deaths and attacks are justified depending on who the victims are and on the perspective of the people. We need to seek reconciliation with each other, but right now it seems there is no time for that. Trying to survive, to get food, to get to work and home are the priorities every day.
Last Thursday the 14th, there was a national strike called by the private enterprise sector. Most businesses were closed, some because they responded to the call and others because of fear that their businesses might be burned down or attacked.
Finally, last Friday the 15th the dialogue was resumed. On Friday and Saturday, they approved the agenda and appointed sub-committees for the issues of democratization, judiciary and electoral reforms. Those sub-committees will work today and go to plenary discussions tomorrow. The Roman Catholic Church continue serving as witnesses, now with the support of the Ambassador from the Vatican in Nicaragua. We still hope that the dialogue will bring a solution although sometimes we despair because it’s taking too long.
Two months after the unrest started more than 200 people have been killed and many more are wounded, detained and missing. At least a death occurs every day somewhere in the country. Our staff remains safe. This week we are on mid-year vacation praying that there are advances on the dialogue table and that by next week the environment is less dangerous.
We have to regret the tragic death of Wilton Cornejo, one of our youth of the psycosocial program in community Las Piedras in Pantasma. There are still investigations going on about the causes of his death. Please pray for his family and entire community where he was greatly appreciated.
Finally, we are grateful for all your support. Prayers, letters, words of encouragement and financial support inspire us and remind us that we are not alone. Thank you.
May God bless you
May 25 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I wanted to inform you about the situation in CEPAD at the national level.
1. The Community Development Committees in all of the zones are developing their community plans, meeting and visiting beneficiaries of the projects. What they have not been able to do is ask for support for their projects due to lack of transportation or access to the municipal governments.
2. Farmers are optimistic with the entrance of the rainy season and are preparing their plots to plant. In Pantasma and Oriente they have begun planting. The farmers in Pantasma have made their compost and in Teustepe they are even selling compost to farmers who normally use chemical fertilizers.
3. The women working with family gardens have been planting their vegetables. The women participating in Community Banking and Work programs are putting into practice what they have learned in their training and are working on their businesses.
4. The pastors in the municipalities have been meeting regularly to pray for peace. In Nueva Guinea members of the pastoral committee are members of the Municipal Commission of Peace that has been formed and they are promoting peace through radio programs in the area.
5. All of CEPAD’s zonal offices have been in touch via phone with the community leaders to monitor the advance of their plants. The social technicians of Matagalpa, Teustepe and Pantasma have been able to visit the villages. The access has been more limited for villages in the zones of Oriente and San Francisco Libre because there have been roadblocks even though it is still possible to reach the villages. The only zone where this is no access to the villages is in Nueva Guinea but we have been monitoring the situation through phone calls. Teustepe has not had any interruption in training activities; Pantasma and Matagalpa have pushed training back to next week.
6. The Institute in Leon (high school) has had classes normally with the exception of a few days. The administrative staff has been working normally. Radio CEPAD has also been transmitting normally with their staff. Despite the challenges the Nehemias guest house had two groups from Nicaragua in May.
7. We have not had more delegations cancel. We hope to have at least 4 groups visit in June and July. However, if the problems continue do to roadblocks the groups will not be able to visit the villages so we are proposing a change in the purpose of their visit. We would like them to come and listen and see what is happening in Managua so they can promote the solidarity in their churches and/or denominations. This was the objective of the program when it was founded in the ‘80’s.
Nicaragua has been in a state of civil unrest since April 29, 2018 when the government of Daniel Ortega tried to change laws around social security in the country.
The principal cause for the unrest began when the government of Daniel Ortega tried to push through reforms to the country’s social security system which would have resulted in workers and employees paying more and those who are retired receiving less. The country erupted in peaceful protest. Unfortunately, that protest was met with extreme repression from the government.
Now, nearly two months later things have gotten worse. There was an attempt at a national dialogue that was moderated by the Catholic church in Nicaragua but it was cancelled because the moderators said there was no progress being made.
More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured. Many fear leaving their homes as there are groups of armed militants rounding up people and putting them in jail or worse.
CEPAD’s work has continued in the rural villages, the most affected areas are in the major cities. There are some places where CEPAD staff are unable to reach the villages because of roadblocks but they continue to connect with leaders and beneficiaries over the phone.
One of the ways CEPAD has been a witness to this situation is by writing letters to the Nicaraguan government, asking them to investigate the deaths and restore peace to the country. We have also asked organizations and denominations to join us in this effort.
Below are three letters that have been written and sent to the government of Daniel Ortega. One by CEPAD, one by the American Baptist Churches USA and one by AMOS Trust.
Letter from CEPAD
We are excited to share some of the architectural renderings for this project. The image above is of the program office that will house all program staff and Radio CEPAD.
Your support of family gardens is helping women produce healthy food for their families. Some women have also used their knowledge to create gardens in schools! Carmen Brizuela is a teacher at a school in Aguas Calientes and she decided to help the students start a garden at school so they can be guaranteed better nutrition.
Carmen is a participant in CEPAD’s Family Garden program. With your gifts she received training in how to create a small garden next to her home to improve the nutrition of her family and also increase their income through the sale of her produce.
She shares that as a family they were able to sell squash and cucumber which helped them to buy things like sugar, rice and oil, to compliment what they are able to grow themselves. This income also helped them to purchase medicine, something they may not have been able to do otherwise.
Carmen is also a pre-school teacher at a school in her community where 24 children attend. She decided that with her new knowledge she would help the students establish a garden at the school so they would be guaranteed better nutrition. The Nicaraguan government provides food for the children, but they only give rice and beans, Carmen knew this wasn’t enough.
“In the school we are growing squash, onion, beets, green pepper and watermelon to improve the nutrition of the children…. I want to continue to guarantee fresh fruits and vegetables in the school garden to provide healthy food for the children because the government only provides rice and beans.”
Thanks to your support of CEPAD’s family garden program, the knowledge Carmen has gained is not only helping her family, but also helping the children of the village of Aguas Calientes.
Eusebia is a mother of 3 children. She lives in the town of La Joya, Nicaragua, which is located approximately 16 miles from the nearest town of Teustepe.
Eusebia has participated in CEPAD’s family gardens program where she has learned to grow a small garden next to her home.
How and why did you get involved with CEPAD?
“In June 2014 I heard about CEPAD on the radio and that they were coming to work with poor families in the communities of Teustepe. I met with members of my church and community leaders and we sent a letter to the CEPAD representative in the municipality. I was chosen to be part of the group of women in the family gardens project.”
What is the biggest impact this project has had on your family?
“The biggest impact in my family has been to grow our understanding of food security, learn and prepare the soil to produce food and eat healthier for my children.
I have shared what I have learned with my family and with neighbors in my community. The teachers at the primary school have also allowed us to put gardens in at the school to take advantage of the interest of the students.
In the school gardens we are sharing our knowledge about growing a garden with 24 children who are growing cucumbers, onions, beets, green peppers and watermelon and helping them to improve their diets.
We are harvesting papaya and both selling it and eating it in our family. We sold 100 papayas at $1.65 each for a total of $165 of profit. We also sold 100 carrots for $.65 each, for a total of $65. With the $230 of profit we earned we have purchased medicine for my family and we have purchased other foods to complement our family diet.
I have learned to eat vegetables that before I had never even seen before. I have also learned to make pineapple jelly and plantain cakes which have helped my children to eat better.”
What plans do you have for the future?
“My plan for the future is for my family to continue working together, receiving my trainings to develop and continue producing more. I also want to have a model family farm where and provide healthy food for my family and sell products to help us purchase what we cannot grow.”
How is CEPAD different from other organizations that work in this zone?
“CEPAD is a blessing because they support families in different ways without expecting anything in exchange. They have the love of God in their heart and we are going to support them during the time they are in our community and our municipality. It is an organization that reaches the hearts of people with projects destined for the community.
People should continue supporting CEPAD because it is a solid organization that provides what is necessary to those who need it in the right time. Training with reality, bringing goods to those who need it.”
We are so pleased and honored to share some news of amazing support that we have recently received from the band U2.
CEPAD’s founder, Gustavo Parajón, was a very humble man who quietly developed friendships with many influential people around the world. He almost never shared about these relationships outside of his own family.
Dr. Parajón became connected with the band U2 in the late 1980’s after meeting lead singer Bono at a concert by Bruce Cockburn at the Greenbelt Arts Festival in England. Bono and his wife Ali had visited Nicaragua and Central America in the mid-1980’s and some of the songs on their album, The Joshua Tree, were inspired by that visit.
During 2017, U2 has been on a 30th anniversary tour of the Joshua Tree album and chose CEPAD to be listed in the tour program as an organization the band supports. This is truly a great honor for CEPAD and we are so grateful to be recognized in this way.
Santos Gladys Rizo is a mother of 6 children and a farmer in the village of El Bramadero 2. Before she started working with CEPAD she had almost no trees on her land. Now, thanks to training and a water capture system she has begun to reforest her land and has diversified her crops so her family no longer has to purchase vegetables; they can eat from what she has planted.
I began working in my plot and using techniques I learned in the trainings [with CEPAD]. I also planted corn with cucumbers, papaya, citrus trees and spinach. I saw that this technique gave us good results. I began making organic compost, insecticide for pests and fertilizers and repellants and I saw that they gave me results. Now I don’t have use chemicals and I don’t burn my plot and I don’t have to go crazy looking for seeds and the chemicals because I make them myself. I also have my water capture system.
Before I didn’t have trees on my plot and I didn’t participate in reforestation projects.
You can see that when I made my water capture system I had almost no trees on my land, that was six months ago.
You can see the changes I have made in just these few months, I now have planted many trees because this is knowledge that I have gained with CEPAD and applied on my land.
You can also see that now I have diversified my plot by using the water from different water capture systems that I made on my property.
They have helped me save a lot of money because I have been able to use them to produce food for my family. My husband is now also making water capture systems in his plot, he didn’t know about these types of opportunities before. He used to not like to go to the trainings and now he can see the achievements and the benefits that we have because now we don’t have to buy vegetables, I have them in my plot.”
To change more lives like Santos’ please donate now!
The 40 villages currently receiving leadership training from CEPAD, (and made possible by you), are in their third year of accompaniment and have already received two trainings in 2017. In addition to identifying their biggest problems they have looked for funding for different projects to improve the quality of life for members of their rural villages. Below you can see the types of projects that received funding thanks to your gifts!
Projects Funded in 2016