Thursday, August 20, 2020

JHC-CDCA in Nicaragua: Thank you USPS

 You might think that we, here in Nicaragua, don't need the U.S. Postal Service.  But we do:

  • Our quarterly newsletters that you read, share, and post on your church bulletin board, educating about the CDCA's work in Nicaragua, show up via the U.S. mail.  And in the early years, those paper newsletters were the ONLY way we had to share the work here in Nicaragua with you.
    pre-digital newsletter prep - helping with mailing labels
  • Your checks of donations come in through the U.S. mail to be deposited in the Carolinas.
  • Those of you with Employer Matching Giving programs, have employers who need to issue paper checks... and they come through the U.S. mail.
  • Kathleen's mother, Peggy, gets her critical medical prescriptions forwarded to her here, during this COVID-19 quarantine, through the U.S. mail to a courier service in Miami that delivers to Managua.
  • And those of us who are U.S. citizens are voting Absentee... yes, we need the mail.

We aren't in the U.S. to let the postal service know we need and appreciate them.  But perhaps you can pass along the message?  

Thank you USPS employees.  You continue to be front-line workers during this pandemic and we are grateful for your service.


- Sarah

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Future Fridays: Trash!

When we moved to Nicaragua over 26 years ago, I was struck by how often women cleaned their floors in their little houses.  If it was a dirt floor, they would sweep it ten times a day or more; concrete or tiled, then it was damp mopped six to eight times a day.  And the dirt or trash would be swept outside the doors.  Then at least once a day, the yard would be swept... yes, swept... undergrowth and grass hides insects like scorpions and snakes.  The trash from the yard would be swept into the streets.

Moving trash from one area to another to another baffled me who grew up with Lady Bird Johnson's campaign to stop littering.  

As I continue to learn more and more about climate change and our environment, I realize that we all do this world-over... we create our trash and move it from one place to another.  

Maybe to a recycling area... most probably the dump.  And our food trash goes into the dump.  And what happens at the dump? The trash gets rolled into the earth even though much of it will not degrade in any reasonable length of time.

Our First World society deals with trash like the Nicaraguan women... we move it out of our personal space to a public space.  If the public space cannot take it, then we find some where else to dump.

Unfortunately, so much of it goes into the ocean.  The Pacific Ocean has a floating "island" of plastic twice the size of Texas and growing!  Life comes from the oceans... remember?

Ocean garbage - photo: Shutterstock licensed

The difference between us and those Nicaraguan poor women of 1994 is that we create way more trash than they EVER did.

The only way to deal with our trash is to not create so much.  Reusing jars and tubs and bottles.  Demanding that more food and beverage items come in reusable containers.  Recycling is good but reusing is much better.  Composting food to lower trash in dumps and reduce methane gas is good.  Eating less perfect food and more leftovers is better.  

One way to start is to buy a smaller trash can and take more days to fill it up.  Make a competition about how little trash you can create.  Hang a photo of the world's beautiful blue and green above your trash can.  We can do it.  I know we can... and will.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Here we go again...election interference

excerpt from RFTOP No.72052420R00004
Here we go again.  In our blog yesterday, I mentioned that a paper from the U.S. State Department was leaked about "regime change in Nicaragua."  This means that the U.S. State Department wants to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua.  The 18-page document RFTOP No:72052420R00004 is titled Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN).

The U.S. State Department has a long history of interfering in elections and governments around the world.  Given that the political unrest (or "soft coup" attempt) in 2018 failed, the State Department is stepping up its game...the problem is that this is no game for Nicaraguans.  

In the document, the U.S. State Department allows and foresees that the present government, the Sandinistas, will win the 2021 Nicaraguan election in a transparent manner that receives international approval.  From our perspective, we agree that's probably likely.  Most Nicaraguans are pleased with the way the country is being run.  Most are happy with free education, free health care, and basic human rights being afforded to them.  Those people who take education, health care, and human rights for granted do not understand this government's popularity.  

Despite international press coverage and opposition coverage regarding Nicaragua's response to COVID-19, Nicaragua has spent the 4th highest amount per capita on addressing the pandemic in Latin America and is lauded by the Inter American Development Bank which is loaning the country $43 million dollars to aid with the pandemic.  Nicaragua started addressing this virus and how to keep its population safe on January 27th...much sooner than most countries, including the U.S.

July 2020 distribution of PPE

With RAIN, the U.S. State Department lays out a plan to thwart the will of the Nicaraguan people if the Sandinistas win again.  Hire a private company (a Blackstone sort of militia) to use influence including non-truthful social media posts, organize demonstrations, and even use violence.  All money funneled through USAID which since late 2017 has given at least 31 million dollars to opposition groups.

RAIN also conspires to interrupt basi services to Nicaraguans by destroying electrical power plants, for example.  When the CIA manual on how to overthrow the FSLN in the 1980s came to light, electrical plants were to be targeted along with schools, health clinics, bridges... infrastructure.  Not only property, but teachers, doctors, nurses, pastors, and community leaders were targeted for assassinations.

I used to be proud of USAID and the humanitarian work that it did, but as I learned more about its work, I discovered that their resources are not to support people who have little; but instead to manipulate and bring about what the U.S. government wants (or what is "in its best interests") within other sovereign nations.  Unfortunately, what the U.S. wants is to give corporations the ability to exploit the people and natural resources, as well as to gain access to what does not belong to the corporations but to the citizens of these other sovereign nations.

Please help.  Please pass this paper on to your senators and representatives and to the media.  Insist that they read it and address it.  There is no reason on earth to help corporations steal from the poor.  There is no reason to overthrow a duly elected government that is not your own.  It is unconscionable to be such a bad neighbor to the second poorest country in the Americas.  It is hateful.

- Kathleen


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Monday, August 3, 2020

What Happens When a Nation Faces Depression?

I battle depression and lately it feels like it might be winning.  I’m not the fighter I used to be.  I’m tired and weary to my bones, but yesterday I was shaken to my soul.

Being depressed makes it difficult for me to exercise. Being stuck in the house adds to my depression, but yesterday, I decided enough is enough and I needed to move… then… I read an article about a U.S. StateDepartment paper that was leaked  [RFTOP No: 72052420R00004 Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (pgs 4-17*)].  The leaked paper describes the plan to destabilize Nicaragua, wreck the economy of Nicaragua, use the pandemic to cause chaos, pour money into the opposition to Nicaragua's government and use its U.S. influence to change the next election...and if all that doesn’t work, to then sponsor a coup.

Reading this article, my first thought was “I don’t want to live through seeing Nicaragua suffer again.”  I then stayed in our bedroom most of the day wallowing in self-pity.

Tomorrow I will write more on this 14-page leaked document*.  But today, I want to try to explain the depression that this country feels.

Reagan on Nicaragua's shoulders - Painting Leon museum

For decades before the 1980s, Nicaraguans lived under U.S.-sponsored dictators who were brutal.  In 1979, Nicaragua saw the end of those dictatorships after many years of insurrection. The new government did not execute those who propped up the dictatorship and had done horrid things like torture and murder, but rather gave them the option of jail time or exile.  Most - if not all - left and became the people to which the U.S. gave money, weapons, and training to wreak havoc and war on the new Sandinista government which was trying to lift the nation out of poverty with health care, literacy campaigns, education, land reform, community development, etc.

Kathy, Mike, Sarah and I came to Nicaragua in the '80s and saw hope among people who had endured so much pain and poverty even while they were at war.  But even with the hope, there was death and lack of resources from the economic embargo that the U.S. placed on this nation. 

Protesting U.S. Policy in front of U.S. Embassy Managua

In 1989, the U.S. basically said, “Elect this person, Violeta Chamorro, or the war continues.”  The nation cried “Uncle” and fell into a pit of depression, which was when we moved to Nicaragua in 1994.  Gone was the health care system.  Gone was free education.  Gone was the hope.

For the next 16 years, Nicaraguans lived through fraudulent elections with the U.S. backing any joker other than the Sandinista candidate.  They got Pres. Chamorro elected, who allowed all the progress from the 1980s to die.  Then they got Pres. Alemán elected, who stole 100 million dollars of aid after Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest hurricane in the 20th century.  They got PresBolaños elected, who kowtowed to the U.S. (the U.S. ambassador even campaigned with him).  The Sandinistas had been labeled terrorists by the U.S., and Nicaraguans were afraid that if they didn't elect the U.S. hand-picked candidate, the U.S. would invade as they did in Iraq.

Finally, in 2006, Nicaraguans voted and were allowed the result of their elections, to put the Sandinistas back in the seat of power.  What happened then (and continues to this day)?  Education became free all the way through college, including medical or dental schools.  Health care became accessible to all.  Nineteen new hospitals have been built.  COVID-19 is being handled in a better way than in the States… that is for sure.  Clinics have opened all over the country, as well as opening homes for pregnant women at risk.  There are more schools, educational resources and teachers.  Businesses were finding Nicaragua a healthy place to set up corporations.  Renewable energy was prioritized.  Nicaragua was doing so well as a nation.

Then in 2018, the U.S. got a foothold again and help to fund uprisings, gangs to create chaos, and all the progress slowed to a crawl.  Since the end of 2017, U.S. AID has funded opposition to the government with at least $31 million dollars.  But after the initial unrest in 2018, things calmed again and the nation was slowly coming back.  Then COVID hit.

I have said many times that Nicaragua is like a battered woman.  She gets knocked down.  She gets up and all seems to be going better to be knocked down again when she doesn’t expect it.  And NONE of it is her fault, but instead the fault of the batterer who uses his power to dominate and get his own way. 

What eventually happens to the woman?  She sinks into depression and is ever cautious and fearful of the next blow.  She loses hope, and will, though she is strong and a survivor.

Unlike the battered woman, Nicaragua cannot leave the Americas to find a safer shelter. 

But like the batterer, the U.S. seldom changes its ways unless forced… and that is where the fight in me has to return.  I am a child of that batterer and I need to force it to change its ways. 


*Original of the leaked document in Spanish on La Primerisima:

*In English:

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