“If we let people from Masaya and Esteli rule us; then, we may as well annul the Autonomy”

                                                                                                                                                                                        

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 situation?

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 be investigated?

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 Bolaños. 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.

 

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