The Kidnapping of the Coast’s Autonomy  

One of the fundamental principles of Autonomy is unity in diversity, which establishes the participation, on an equal footing, of all the ethnic groups on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua to build the coast with equality. Based on this principle, an ETHNIC DEMOCRACY was initiated to go beyond the traditional democracy known to the rest of the country. This principle is to assure the integration of Miskitos, Sumos, Ramas, Garifunas, Creoles, and Mestizos to the Regional Councils and its Board of Directors.

Before the law of Autonomy and the system it established, the Ramas, Sumos, Garifunas, and their communities could not have dreamed of being governments. They did not have any participation in the government, and their cultures were “traveling through the valley of the shadows of death,” discriminated to the point of extinction in an environment in which they have nothing to feel proud or respected.  The territory and its rich natural resources were usurped or irrationally managed by orders and politics unilaterally decided in Managua. The new political constitution and the Autonomy law established the legal basis to change these conditions; nonetheless, the law of Autonomy has not been implemented due to the lack of political will. Ironically, the regulation of the Autonomy law has to be approved by the central government that has it sequestered.

The coast people recognized that the effective exercise of the rights of Autonomy is the most authentic and genuine way to transform the pluricultural and multiethnical Caribbean coast--the paradise we dream of. However, the national government, which is now more centrist than ever, has denied the coast people the possibilities to exercise their rights recognized in the political constitution and the law of Autonomy.

Autonomy is one of the fundamental aspirations of the coast people. The majority of the people feel that their efforts in electing the representatives of the regional councils are futile because the liberal and neo-liberal governments don’t have the will to regulate the law. The hands of the regional councils are tied; and as a result, all the decisions that would benefit the coast people are in the hands of the central government that manages the budgets and appoints the authorities (delegates) of the region i.e. dependents or subordinates to the authorities in Managua, (in contravention to the established law), avoiding the authentication of a regional cabinet which is an essential part of the Autonomous government.

The central government of the country set all kinds of obstacles to Autonomy, and they enforce a brutal discriminatory politics against the coast people to keep them from engaging in national issues. The situation is so deceiving that even though Article 8 recognized the multiethnic character of the Nicaraguan people, the governors including the president Enrique Bolaños who, with the same discriminatory attitude of his predecessor, did not appoint absolutely anyone from the Caribbean coast to his cabinet (not any ambassador, minister, vice-minister, director or sub-director of any institution). The president of the republic created an ample commission to deal with the reform of the judicial system of the country, but he did not consider it necessary to appoint anyone from the Caribbean coast to a commission of such importance.

Can you imagine what would happen in the United States, for example, if the president in this 21st Century were to form his cabinet excluding the Blacks and Latinos of his country? However, it seems that the people of the Central and Pacific regions of Nicaragua do not see absolutely any problem with the exclusion of the coast people from the Nicaraguan government. Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for a national or international authority to impose upon the president of Nicaragua the ministers of his cabinet? Can you imagine how disappointing it is for the coast people who after electing their regional authorities are belittled by the ministers from Managua, who don’t even know our situation but make the decisions concerning our regional issues? Meanwhile, the coast people, their regional elected authorities, and the laws that suppose to protect us are ignored and trampled.

The day the central government transfers the budgets to the elected authorities of the Caribbean of Nicaragua and let them choose and appoint the civil employees of the regional administration, in other words, the day they allow the Autonomous process to function as it is established by law, Nicaragua and the world will witness an increase in participation of the coast people in the election of the authorities on all levels. The truth is that there is nowhere on this planet any persons with any common sense who would vote for any sequestered representative.

President Bolaños can change the situation and initiate a new era by releasing the regional authorities who have been kidnapped since the first elections in 1990. However the signals that the coast people have been receiving from the president is that discrimination will continue. The kidnapping of the Autonomy and the spurious projection of an ethnocentric government will only allow further extraction of the riches of the Atlantic coast to the benefit of a small elite who live on the Pacific and abroad.


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