Since April 18, the solidarity movement has been struggling over how to interpret events in Nicaragua and where to push in terms of advocacy and/or speaking out. As with many people following the situation, I have watched and listened to friends take a harsh line towards one another and with me about articles I have written. While the division in the solidarity movement is not in and of itself new, the tensions have boiled over. The gulf between people over how the situation is understood and should be represented is enormous. There are even calls from some to support U.S.
I first met Dolly in January of 1996. I had just moved to Washington, D.C. and was looking for a job. I had contacted the Quixote Center a few months prior about the possibility of setting up a small project to donate funds to a clinic in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The clinic served the neighborhood of the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs, where I stayed in July of 1995 with a Witness for Peace delegation. This had been my first trip to Nicaragua, and the group I was with was eager to help out the community in a meaningful way.
Dolly Pomerleau was one of the pioneers who founded the Quixote Center in 1975. She and Bill Callahan launched this justice work with a strong commitment to social justice in both civil society and within the Catholic Church. In both arenas, that justice included changing structures to establish the equality of women and men. Dolly was utterly committed to that and all the other projects and ideals to which the Center committed itself over the years.
Part VII of the Inspirational and Influential Women of the World Blog Series
“The only thing that has limited us in the past was our own fears.” – Dolly Pomerleau
Last month, a priest in Kenya, Father Paul Ogalo started his year-long suspension, his offense: rapping during Mass.
Last Wednesday Trump signed an executive order to end the policy of separating children from families at the border. The order still mandates that children be put in detention with family members, and does not apply to the over 2,300 children who have already been separated in recent weeks - in total, over 10,000 children are currently in detention. Some of these children may never see their parents again.
Following fighting between the Nicaraguan government and protestors in mid-April during which nearly 50 people were killed in four days, the National Dialogue was set up as a means to discuss the conflict and work toward justice for the victims of the violence. At the table are the government, representatives of the national university system, labor unions, and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, composed of students from the April 19th Movement, the Superior Council of Private Enterprises, and representatives of "civil society" organizations.
The situation in Nicaragua seems to worsen with every day, and the framing of the conflict in international media has worsened with it.
Over the last week there has been an increase in violence in Nicaragua. In Masaya several people were killed, government buildings burned, a market ransacked, and ongoing blockades of the roads leading into the city. Much of the media attention about the ongoing political crisis in Nicaragua has ignored the conflicts in cities outside of Managua, or focused solely on accusations of excessive force by the police.
The Cooperative Movement of Nicaragua issued the statement below on May 5, 2018 regarding their participation in the National Dialogue process, which was formally launched on May 16. As of this writing, Orlando Núñez has not been included at the main table of negotiation as requested in this letter. [Graphic with participants listed, from El Nuevo Diario]. We provide a translation into English below.
“it is not the use of violence that leads to peace. War calls on war, violence calls on violence. I invite all the parties involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail.” Pope Francis, Audience, May 16, 2018