In this blog, I present some of the findings of my research on Nicaraguan immigrant organizations in South Florida and their links to Nicaragua. The study represents the first comprehensive study on Nicaraguan immigrant organizations in South Florida.
Note to the readers:
The blog is intended to create awareness about the Nicaraguan immigrant organizations in South Florida, their projects, and their transnational engagement. Therefore, even though the core part of the study has already concluded, given the dynamics of the organizations, the posts will be sporadically upgraded as fresh information is gathered from various sources.
I am currently launching a follow-up stage to keep the blog updated as new organizations emerge or as the existing ones further expand their projects.
If you want to offer updated information about your organizations or a new organization you are welcome to contact me at:
It is advisable that people in leadership position in South Florida and Nicaragua pay attention to the humanitarian and pro-development goals of these organizations and explore possible ways of cooperation with them. The goal of assisting specific population groups in Nicaragua while building infrastructure, and healthier and better educated communities there merits our attention and support.
Thanks for your cooperation,
Margarita Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Nicaraguan Immigrant Organizations: A Transnational Study
I based the study on ethnographic research which in this case involved extensive fieldwork in South Florida and various areas of Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, the fieldwork encompassed areas of the Managua-Masaya-Granada corridor, remote rural areas in Leon, Esteli, and Matagalpa, and two areas of the Atlantic Coast (the city of Bluefields and the largest island of “The Corn Islands”).
The main goals of the study were the identification of Nicaraguan immigrant organizations in the Greater Miami Area and to study more carefully those with systematic transnational links to localities in Nicaragua.
Over 40 Nicaraguan immigrant organizations currently operating in Miami-Dade County were identified and I interviewed the leaders of 37 of them; 31 are formal organizations incorporated in Florida under the 501 c (3) nonprofit organization designation and the rest are Hometown Associations with no formal incorporation.
Through a combination of interviews and archival research, I also identified 52 Nicaraguan immigrant organizations which operated at some point during the 1980s, most of which are no longer active. However, some of the oldest organizations have survived to our days and are actively involved in different projects.
In addition to the leaders of the organizations, I also interviewed members of some of the organizations, community activists, immigration attorneys, leaders of the private sector in Nicaragua, local government officials in the municipalities visited, representatives of national and regional organizations that focused on private-public efforts devoted to issues related to development, and beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of some of the projects. I also had informal conversations with many Nicaraguans whom I met during my participation in multiple activities in Miami and the trips to Nicaragua which shed more light on the topics of interest.
General Profile of the Organizations
- Organizations that promote transnational humanitarian assistance or pro-development projects.
The leaders of the organizations involved in pro-development projects do not tend to conceptualize “development” primarily as national development but as community development and by articulating some versions of the human development paradigm. In this respect, their approach to development-related issues is in sync with prevailing narratives on this matter globally.
It should be noticed that there is a group of organizations that has the delivery of humanitarian assistance as part of their core mission. In addition, Nicaraguan immigrant organizations have tended to be involved in providing humanitarian assistance to specific population groups in Nicaragua as part of relief efforts in times of natural disasters, during other crises or as per the request of specific groups.
- Organizations that promote civic engagement.
Most Nicaraguan immigrant organizations of this type are involved in transnational civic engagement and those heavily involved in domestic issues within the United States or a combination of domestic and transnational involvement tend to address immigration issues systematically.
Some of these organizations have a strong focus on political and civic issues with respect to their country of origin although like in the case of immigration issues there is a widespread involvement of many organizations when a critical situation unfolds in Nicaragua concerning these issues.
It should be noted that since the 1980s, civic engagement organizations have been heavily involved in struggles concerning the status issue and related ones such as social justice and human rights aspects of the immigration experience. This has been particularly obvious when high waves of deportations have fragmented hundreds of Nicaragua families. Nicaraguan immigrant organizations showed a pattern of exceptional cohesion during the social movement that facilitated the enactment of NACARA in 1997.
Even though Nicaraguans currently endure the highest level of deportation rate ever experienced by the group (a rate that is considerably higher than the national average) a similar coalition has not been formed to address this matter.
- Professional Organizations.
These organizations promote efforts to advance professional goals). Some of these organizations also focus on transnational humanitarian efforts as part of their mission.
- Cultural organizations
These organizations promote Nicaraguan culture in South Florida and transnationally. Most organizations have left an imprint on the making of identities related to the immigration experience. However, given the nature of their activities, cultural organizations have been instrumental in recreating cultural identities and ideas about nationhood among Nicaraguans, and their remaking in transnational social fields.
- Alumni Associations.
These organizations tend to be systematically involved in transnational projects that support educational efforts in Nicaragua.
- Religious organizations.
The religious organizations were included in their relationships with non-religious ones.
- Sport organizations. Only one was identified.
I have been asked by leaders of some organizations as to what they could do to improve their effectiveness in reaching more Nicaraguans through their projects. I recognize that in many respects there is a gap in knowledge to their favor. However, I recommend the following courses of action based on my systematic exposure to the functioning of different organizations:
- Let the community know what the organization is doing in South Florida and in Nicaragua.
Hopefully, this blog will facilitate the diffusion of information about the organizations, what they do, and it may be a way of supporting future collaboration efforts among the organizations and with them and other entities.
- Exchange experiences with other leaders of organizations. Organizing a conference or workshop for the purpose of exchanging experiences among Nicaraguan immigrant organizations in South Florida, sounds promising as a tool to promote greater understanding and cooperation among them.
- Develop proposals for systematic cooperation with organizations that share your main goals or are willing to integrate efforts. Explore possible cooperation with educational institutions, funding institutions, and leaders of the local governments in South Florida and your targeted areas in Nicaragua dealing with issues related to your main goals.
- Become more familiar with existing grants and other funding possibilities that may support new projects or make existing ones more effective.
The structural incapacities that reproduce underdevelopment won’t vanish through small-scale efforts which for the most part have ameliorative effects on poverty alleviation. However, thousands of Nicaraguans, many families and a number of communities are benefitting from the immediate impact of these efforts.
* This study would not have been possible without the key support received from the Center for Migration and Development (CMD) at Princeton University. The Department of International Studies at the University of Miami facilitated the logistics for the fieldwork in South Florida and Ph.D. candidate Bustamante assisted with specific tasks related to organizational issues and the research of secondary data. Many people in South Florida and in Nicaragua, including but not limited to the leaders of the organizations participated in this study.
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