Friday, January 26, 2007

Nicaragua, Nicaraguita...

Rock wall outside El Regadio
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Our brother Rick, who by all accounts is perhaps the greatest Professor of Ethics ever at one of our fine Kentucky colleges, has just returned from a Witness for Peace trip to Nicaragua. Rick has made these trips regularly – often taking Jeff Streeters with him – and always brings back a wealth of information about the struggles of our brothers and sisters in Latin America.

Here’s a report he wrote while in country:


This is the first time I´ve had the opportunity to visit an internet cafe in Managua. We have had a fantastic and very full first week in Managua, and everyone is doing well.

Yesterday we went to the inauguration celebration for Daniel Ortega, with about 500,000 other people, and heard Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and Evo Morales speak at a huge rally. So as of today, Nicaragua has a new government, and there is much hope among certain sectors and much hand-wringing among others.

It will be fascinating to see what happens. What a time to be here!

Meanwhile we´ve visited the city dump and talked with those who live and work there recycling trash and with those who have developed innovative sports programs with former gang members, toured a demonstration farm, visited a liberation theology base community, received briefings on Nicaragua´s debt and structural adjustment, heard from a number of civil society groups, interviewed Nicaragua´s main CAFTA negotiator, enjoyed folkloric dance, heard a reggae artist from the eastern coast where most Afro Nicaraguans live, and attended Mass at a church with dozens of social programs for the poor, including sewing, computer training, literacy, folkloric dance, mural art, music, a youth choir, etc. [<--new record for longest run-on sentence on a Jeff Street blog…dt]

We are in our urban homestays this week. Some tough conditions and living situations, but the students are rising to the occasion. Tomorrow is one of our highlights, a visit with Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaragua´s most famous living poet, sculptor, Jesuit priest, liberation theologian, and minister of Culture under the Sandinistas in the 1980s.

He´ll first give us a tour of his gallery featuring primitivist folk art that got its rise in the Solentiname community which became famous for its method of biblical application to liberation struggles and how those struggles were conveyed in art.

After that, we´ll meet with Miguel dÉscoto, a Maryknoll priest who was foreign minister in the 1980s. We will hike to the top of the Masaya volcano on Saturday before making our way north into the mountains for joining a cooperative in the final stages of the coffee harvest. We´ll live in the homes of the coffee workers for two nights.

…Thanks for your prayers. This has the potential to be a truly life-changing experience for these students.


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