Autonomy, Wealth and Ethnocentrism

Ing. Johnny Hodgson

Jun 13-The fisheries potential of the Nicaraguan Caribbean waters generate 500 million dollars annually, and the forests can generate 440 million dollars annually.  The national government has announced that it could obtain 500 million dollars annually from the exploitation of petroleum from the Caribbean platform, which does not include the natural gas and a pipeline from the Caribbean to Managua. The mineral reserves have been valued at 4 billion dollars. These figures do not include the landscape resources and wildlife that represent valuable ecotourism potentials. Neither do these figures include the natural geographic potentials for world transportation of any interoceanic mega projects.


One hundred and eight years ago, the Nicaraguan state with the support of the North Americans marines carried out the so-called reincorparation of the Mosquitia. The interest of that action was to incorporate the territory and appropriate its resources. At no time, did they consider the welfare of the Costeńos. Since that epoch, the Costeńos have been suffering a brutal discrimination that can only be imagine with the knowledge that of the 385 existent communities, the immense majority do not have access to basic services of potable water and electricity. The civil servants of the central governments are always preoccupied with the exploitation of the Caribbean resources and the proceeds to be had with minimal social and productive investments regardless of which areas of the RAAS (South Autonomous Atlantic Region) are reviewed.


If we analyze the transportation sector, we find that we have the worst highway in the country. This only access of terrestrial communication with the rest of the country is shameful. For the majority of the Coast’s inhabitants, they must gather more than 100 dollars to travel by plane to the capital. If they only have 500 or 600 Córdobas, they have to prepare themselves for a roundtrip that causes pain to the body and soul.


If we review the education system, we find that the only significant and futuristic investments are made by some natives and the churches. The government does not invest in replacing the infrastructures and equipments donated to the public schools and institutions. The prestigious Cristobal Colon National Institute of Bluefields, whose marching band, gymnasium, sporting equipments, laboratories, libraries, and quality of teaching in general was once a symbols of pride. Now, it is the recipient of the blatant scorn the central governments have toward an integral education of the Costeńos.


The public buildings on the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast are not maintained. The regional police building is about to collapse on those who work and visit it. The modern regional hospital inaugurated in Bluefields in 1984, which the Coast people exhibited with pride to foreign visitors, today is a disgrace. The health services are deficient. The government divided the hospital in two parts: one for the unsheltered poor and the other for those who can pay for consultations and medicines. In other parts of the country, the sick benefit from state ambulance services to carry them to the hospitals. The infirm of our communities have to use their ingenuity to arrive by aquatic means to the regional hospital.

The buildings in which the offices of tourism, statistics (INEC), and other state branches are located are pitiful. They have not invested in painting them much less in their structures. Upon review of sports and culture, the abandonment of the government is perceived to the point that the powerful Coast teams that dominated the national scene are only a memory. The ministry of culture and tourism only remember the Caribbean one-week in the year. When the other representatives of the state visit the Caribbean coast with their guests, they bring with them new problems. They preach that the government does not have money, but squander our resources in banquets, other expenses, and chartered planes and helicopters. Civil servants like Roberto Rivas “can’t travel as passengers on commercial planes.”


The central government does nothing to make its civil servants know, learn, or interested in understanding the Coast’s Autonomy. For these reasons, their reference in relation to the Caribbean is determined by ethnocentric and racist visions of the central state, which damage the Caribbean coast and the country. The perceptions, actions, plans, and discourses of the members of the central state apparatus is that the indigenous people and the ethnic communities of the Atlantic Coast are not within the hierarchy of objectives and preoccupations of the government; hence, they see the Autonomy as a nuisance that if they could, they would erase it from the constitution. The discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism are such that current president of the republic has as his adviser, in matters that concern the Atlantic coast, a person who does not know nor is interested in getting to know the Costeńos.




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