Since the early 1990s, most Nicaraguan immigrant organizations have tended to focus on humanitarian and pro-development projects, cultural projects, or they have functioned as professional organizations. However, several organizations involved in transnational civic engagement have emerged since 2004, most of them since 2007, the year in which the FSLN regained control of the government in Nicaragua.
Movimiento por Nicaragua (Miami Chapter), withEduardo Pichardo as one of the leaders
Unidad Nicaraguense Americana (UNA), led by Ana Baunza
Nicaraguan American National Foundation, led by Marlon Gutierrez
Todos Por Nicaragua (Miami Chapter), Miguel Montalvan as a major leader and Eduardo Pichardo as the liason with Managua
The Nicaraguan Civic Task Force (see post in this blog), founded in 1986, is the oldest organization among those developing transnational civic engagement projects.
Various demonstrations have been organized by Nicaraguans in Miami in recent years in support of various causes related to civic and political affairs in Nicaragua. Demonstrations to denounce corruption within the political elite and the legislative strategies that would perpetuate the mandate of the current president of Nicaragua have been at core of recent efforts launched by these organizations.
It is not infrequent to see the display of both patriotic and religious symbols in the demonstrations, where both respect and protection is evoked.
On March 20, 2010, a radiant Saturday morning in Miami, cooler than usual for this time of the year a group of Nicaraguan immigrants gathered on the corner of Flagler and 13th avenue in Little Havana. They were surrounded by Nicaraguan, American and Cuban flags.
The ambiance included Nicaraguan traditional music, posters that read “no a la corrupción” (no to corruption), a caricature by a prominent Nicaraguan caricaturist that portrays a person with a broom sweeping another person who represents a corrupt legislator in Managua, and a poster featuring Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s current president and the statement “sí a la democracia: no a la dictadura” (yes to democracy: no to dictatorship).
Two vendors, a man and a woman have T-shirts, flags (the Nicaraguan, American, and Cuban flags), hats, and caps for the occasion. Some demonstrators wear T-shirts and sport caps that read “todos por Nicaragua: Nicaragüenses en el exterior en defensa de la democracia.” (We are all for Nicaragua: Nicaraguans abroad in defense of democracy”) and “Movimiento por Nicaragua” (Movement for Nicaragua).
A couple of women brought brooms and occasionally swept the sidewalk symbolically. There one finds familiar and new faces of Nicaraguans who live in Miami but are affiliated to some of the most influential political parties and movements in Nicaragua, including the less conservative ones such as Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) and the Movimiento por Nicaragua.
Some participants emphasized that they were not there as representatives of any political party, that they are independent and they all had united to denounce what civic groups in Nicaragua and Miami emphatically refer to as the return of corrupt and dictatorial trends in Nicaragua’s government.
Nicaraguans gathered that day in Little Havana were engaged in a transnational social movement, one that had been initiated in Managua yet had reached Miami through an umbrella organization called Unidad Nicaragüense or Nicaraguan Unity.
That same Saturday morning, over two thousand Nicaraguans from different regions or departments of Nicaragua gathered in Managua in a demonstration convoked by umbrella organizations of the civic society; prominently the Unión Ciudadana por la Democracia (UCD) and Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN) (which has affiliates in Miami).
I had interviewed Violeta Granera, the president of MpN in Managua, and one of the coordinators of the demonstration. She mentioned then that she was assisting in the organization of a demonstration in Managua that they had labeled “la marcha de las escobas” (marching with brooms) and that the demonstration was expected to have resonance among Nicaraguan emigrants abroad, including Miami.
Since 2009 the above-mentioned Nicaraguan civic engagement organizations in Miami have organized or participated in several car caravans and other types of demonstrations as political events and legislative moves they feel they should protest unfold in Nicaragua.
The most powerful Nicaraguan parties and civic/political movements have a representation in Miami, for example, el Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC) whose representative in Miami is Roberto D’Andrea, Luis Martínez who is also the Nicaraguan Consul in Miami represents the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), Flor de María Herdocia is the representative of Movimiento Vamos con Eduardo (MVE), Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) is represented by Eduardo Salgado, and Eduardo Pichardo is the representative of Movimiento por Nicaragua (MPN).
There are well-established Nicaraguan organizations such as Fraternidad Americana and Nicaraguan Civic Task Force, deeply involved in specific projects and actions to stop deportations and support the idea of immigration reform while newly formed organizations are also getting involved in such efforts.
Will this trend also lead to a new wave of civic involvement of Nicaraguans in Miami related to immigration issues similar to the one experienced in the late 1990s? It is too early to say. However, some organizations are showing that their transnational civic involvement combine concerns related to civic issues in Nicaragua and the United States.
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* The author appreciates the interviews granted by the leaders of the organizations and some members during her research in South Florida and Nicaragua and the supporting logistics and materials provided by them.