we let people from Masaya and Esteli rule us; then, we may as well annul the
Bluefields, RAAS, Jun 8-Johnny
Hodgson is a true and loyal defender of the Autonomy process on the Caribbean
coast of Nicaragua. We saw him riding his motor bike on his way to visit his
mother and asked for a few minutes of his time to give us his point of view on
the Autonomous elections of May 4th. John gladly agreed to sit down with us once
again after he visited his mother.
Pulse: John, what can you tell us about the
Autonomous elections of May 4?
First of all, it was a shame what took place on the 4th of
May, apart from being illegal. It is very sad what took place after so many
people fought and died for us to get Autonomy, to get a law that recognizes that
we have a right to elect our own authorities and organize our own social and
productive activities according to our values and traditions. When we have these
things already in writing, its wrong from all points of view.
First, because Arnold Alemán got together with a number of
council members who got elected to compel them to elect as president of the
regional council a man from Esteli and as coordinator or governor a man from
Masaya. Now, these people know very little about us and have no interest in
Autonomy. We have many people here who are capable i.e. Blacks, Miskitus, Sumos,
and Mestizos who they could have put there. The Autonomy is not only for the
Miskutus or Blacks; it’s also for the Mestizos from the Coast. The Mestizos
from Coast born and grow, think and feel it just like you and me. When you bring
these guys from Managua who don’t understand and care about us to rule us;
then, it doesn’t make sense to have Autonomy. Why would we want Autonomy if a
man from Masaya is going to rule us, and a man from Esteli is going to be head
of the council?
From the moral point of view, how can Alemán look at them
and tell them that these are the two people who he wants to handle the Autonomy.
Then, I have to look on the other side, to our people, and see how they accepted
this. Some of them said they did it because they are members of that party, and
they have to have party discipline. But, they are confusing party discipline
with something else. The other thing that was very sad was that everything was
done illegally. I believe they did it illegally to ridicule us, to show the
world that we are dumb and not capable. That’s why, I believe; they did it
this way. The way it was done was sad, bad, and shameful.
With this illegal thing that happened and the way it
happened, it’s very difficult to get support from the BID (Inter-American
Development Bank) and other big institutions. Even the president of the country
said that he has no interest in working with a directive board that is exclusive
to one party. All that was done on the 4th of May is to harm the Coast people
and to damage the autonomy, to make a mockery of us. For us, the man from Masaya
that just came here about four years ago to work for the INSBI (Nicaraguan
Institute for Social Benefit) knows nothing about the Coast. The people elected
him, and after he was elected, Alemán demanded they put him as coordinator of
the regional council. For us Coast people, it is a mockery of our Autonomy when
anyone can come from Managua and live here an amount of years and be legally a
member of the regional council.
The shameful part of it is that we have members of the
council, all from the PLC (Liberal Constitutional Party), who were willing to
comply with Alemán who did not care if what they were doing was legal or
illegal. I don’t know who can have confidence in them if they don’t stand up
to see that we get the right people in the regional council. I don’t think
they will be able to stand up for the best interest of the Caribbean coast.
Pulse: What should the people do about this
John: Many people have been voicing their
disapproval. An interesting thing is that a lot of the liberals don’t agree
and are totally against what happened. You don’t have to be Yatama or
Sandinista. This has nothing to do with parties. The only place in the country
where we, Coast people, can aspire to rule is the coast. We still let them send
people from Managua to rule us. It’s like we don’t care about ourselves.
There are a lot of people Liberals, Yatamas, Sandinistas, and Conservatives who
are against this thing. They have written to the radio and newspapers and tried
to make their voice heard. The black association wrote a pronouncement.
It’s amazing to see that none stood up against what Alemán
told them to do. There are 31 liberals, and all of them voted for the Masaya and
Esteli men to handle our region and run our Autonomy. I have to say that the
Yatamas and the Sandinistas are the ones standing up for Autonomy.
Pulse: We understand that the Sandinista
party has filed a protest against the elections of May 4. What can you tell us?
John: The Frente (Sandinistas) has appealed
to the Supreme Court. I am very
optimistic that they will annul it. I feel that even though the Liberals are
getting another chance to vote for the right people; they will do the same thing
all over again. I am a Sandinista, but I am not asking for them to vote for a
Sandinista. They should vote for the Liberal because the Liberal won, but make
sure it’s a Liberal from the Caribbean coast. He does not have to be black
man; he could be a Miskito or a Mestizo. And if the person they vote for makes
mistakes, fine. Everyone makes mistakes in life, but we cannot allow people to
come from Masaya and Esteli to run our autonomy.
Pulse: What if the court doesn’t annul the
elections of May 4, what other steps would be considered?
John: Well, I hope we don’t have to take
any other steps because any other steps would be just as damaging. All who can
read Article 39 of the Autonomy law will see that what they did has no value,
and that is exactly what the appeals court will rule.
Pulse: In reference to the corruption that
President Bolaños is fighting, do you think any of the former coordinators will
John: I don’t have much to say on that. We
have to wait to see if anyone goes to court and then see what the court will do.
I don’t have anything to say about anyone because I don’t have any evidence.
When Harvey Mayorga worked here, we sent all the evidence and no one took them
into consideration. Well now they did, and Harvey Mayorga is in jail. The jails
that these guys are in are a million times better than the home of most
Nicaraguans; they are luxury hotels. Jails are to make people meditate and
change, but these are not going to make these people change. The government
justification of this is that they are doing it with their own money. Imagine,
you are free, and you don’t have the luxury that these guys have.
John said that he hopes the council members will do the
right thing a second time around. “If we let people from Masaya and Esteli
rule us; then, we may as well annul the Autonomy” he said. Alemán used
Roberto Rivas to create chaos in the North and South Caribbean regions. Roberto
Rivas is one of those involved in the corruption scandal. According to the
newspapers, he will next after Byron Jerez to declare before a judge.
John has written letters to all the council members advising them to do
the right thing. He believes it’s a power struggle between Alemán and
Alemán is trying to show Bolaños that he controls the Coast. John is also
urging everyone at home and abroad to call their council members and ask them to
please stand up for the Coast, and to put the Autonomy first. The liberals are
obeying orders from their political party, which is against the interest of the
Coast. John believes that the members will gain respect from the people as long
as they stand up for the interest of the Coast. He also warned that he would be
obligated to turn his back on anyone who continues to take orders from those who
don’t care about the coast.
Since this interview the Supreme Court suspended the
elections of May 4th while they investigate. The president has sent
Roberto Rivas and Emett Lang, President and Vice President of the Supreme
Electoral Council (CSE) back to the Caribbean coast to try and solve the problem
in the North and South Atlantic autonomous regions. Mr. Lang strongly agrees
that the elections in Bluefields should be annulled.