The Comite de Nicaraguenses Pobres en el Exilio (CONIPOE) (Committee of Poor Nicaraguans in Exile) was founded by Nicaraguan activist Cristobal Mendoza in 1986. The organization was created at a time in which the waves of immigration from the political and economic elite had yielded to a new wave of immigrants, including workers in the informal sector in Nicaragua and peasants.
By the mid 1980s class differences among Nicaraguans had become more apparent and some leaders of the community realized that if professionals needed to create their own organizations, there had to be organizations focused on Nicaraguans of lesser economic means who were facing a range of problems that were not being targeted systematically.
The rationale behind the formation of CONIPOE is explained by the founder of the organization:
” We founded Comité de Nicaragüenses Pobres en el Exilio (Committee for Poor Nicaraguans In Exiles) on June 27, 1985. I told to myself, ‘the rich people are here already, the middle class is leaving Nicaragua but we also have poor people leaving to a great extent through the border and coming to Miami… The world of the poor is the world of unsatisfied necessities.’ The rich had their own lawyers to resolve their immigration status but Nicaraguans who were poor didn’t, and although many Nicaraguans were involved in the status issue, the bottom line is that there were many Nicaraguans who were poor who didn’t even have shelter sometimes” (interview with Cristobal Mendoza, Miami 2009).
CONIPOE was one of the organizations with greater involvement in the struggle for the halt of deportations and the granting of a stable immigration status to thousands of Nicaragua who still in the mid-1990s were subject to deportation or in immigration limbo.
Nicaraguan Fraternity (currently American Fraternity, the Nicaraguan Civic Task Force (see post in this blog), the professional organizations, such as ANIA (currently ANEA, see post in this blog) were also actively involved. An organization that supported immigration reform, Bloque de Apoyo a la Unidad Nicaraguense (BAUNIC) was created by Luis Martinez, a Nicaraguan immigrant (and current Consul of Nicaragua in Miami) and associates in the midst of the social movement initiated by well-established organizations.
Nicaraguan attorneys with great involvement in community affairs such as prominent attorney Mario Lovo, and even prominent non-Nicaraguan attorneys, such as Ira Krushban, were involved in assisting the organizations and by taking cases and designing legal strategies to deal with the reluctance of the federal immigration authorities.
The social movement, which encompassed Nicaraguan immigrant organizations and activists of different ideological persuasions from Miami to California and in other states and was supported by several Congress Representatives, including Cuban American representatives from Florida, paved the way to the signature of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) in 1997.
CONIPOE has been involved in civic projects in poor neighborhoods of Managua where a similar organization was formed but no significant results have been achieved.
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