Nicaraguans Unite For The Development Of The Atlantic Coast

Gregory Lewin
glewin@bluefieldspulse.com

Washington, Jul. 27-On May 11, 2002, a group of Nicaraguans residing in Miami formed what is called “Comite Costeños Unidos Pro-Desarrollo De La Costa Atlantica De Nicaragua”. The organization according to Leonardo Green, will focus on promoting the economic, social, cultural and institutional development on the Caribbean coast. Mr. Green stated that the organization has several workshops scheduled for Miami and Managua later this year to inform the Caribbean coast people of their agenda. The first workshops scheduled for Miami will take place on August 3, 2002.

The organization is comprised of nine board members. They are Leonardo Green, James Thomas, Anita Sang Colomer, Harry Brautigam, Ronald Calonje, Steve Benedict, David Johnson, Marina Mena, and Jerry Brautigam.

In order to obtain additional information, bluefieldspulse submitted a written interview to Mr. Adalbert Johnson, member of the organization who referred the questions to Mr. Leonardo Green. 

Interview.

PULSE:  What is the name of your organization?

GREEN:  COSTEÑOS UNIDOS PRO-DESARROLLO DE LA COSTA ATLANTICA DE NICARAGUA.

PULSE:  What is the purpose?

GREEN:  Promote the economic, social, cultural and institutional development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua by means of private and public investments, education, and the individual and collective work of all the inhabitants of the region. We believe this can be accomplished by initiating a dialogue in the region with the central government of Nicaragua, regional governments of the autonomous regions, the private sector, bilateral and multilateral institutions with regard to a new economic/financial conceptual framework for the region.  This new conceptual framework will serve as a guide for

the elaboration of projects and programs for the Atlantic Region of Nicaragua.  It is based on the principle that the promoter of development needs to be the private sector and that the development planning needs to be pragmatic.  One hundred and eight years of failures and setbacks suggest that the development of the Atlantic Coast requires of a different approach than what has been tried in the past.

PULSE:  How different is your organization from others that has been formed with the same purpose but failed?

GREEN:  This approach is completely different than what has been tried in the past.  We have always relied on Managua to set the guidelines or approve a plan or program.  This has not worked in the past.  Today it is even more unlikely this will work because for all practical purposes the central government is broke and with the few financial resources available it is a certainty that the Atlantic Coast is not a priority and therefore these few

resources will not be earmarked for the region.  Furthermore, for whatever reason we are now more divided than ever before.  Once upon a time what we had in common was that we were costeños and that was stronger than whether we were "liberales", "conservadores", or whatever.  Today you read in the papers about costeños against costeños, in a time when the needs of the region dictate that we should be more united than ever. With this new approach, whereas the central government has a part to play, the responsibility relies on what we as costeños can achieve.  We are suggesting that new entities be formed focused on bringing investment into the region, creating jobs, jobs, jobs.  This includes promoting and facilitating investments from within the regions.  One of the entities we are proposing will have the responsibility of securing the necessary capital to finance this investment.  Microcredits will be a major component but only one of several approaches.  Microcredits have been extremely successful in similar situations.   Small and medium size investments will also play a vital part in this effort.  There is also room for major investments, but the approach in this case would be somewhat different and include foreign assistance. An integral component of this approach is an Emergency Plan to jump-start the economy of the region.  A prepared list of projects, while not exhaustive, includes a significant number of activities that could be started in short period of time.

 PULSE:  Recently I received a mail from Rollin Tobie.  The mail was in response to the announcement of your group. One of his suggestions to you all was to try and make contact with an organization such as the Congressional Black Caucus before doing  business in Nicaragua.  Does your group have any intention of doing this?

GREEN:  We believe that the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua is multiethnic, including the Black, Sumos, Misquitos, Rama, Garifunos, Latinos, Mestizos, etc.  Also, we should include Chinese, Germans, English, Arab, Jew, etc.  If we believe the Black Caucus can help us advance our cause on the Atlantic Coast then I think we should talk to them.  It would seem however, by the tone of this question, that we might or should exclude a given group.  Our message is one of unity among all people of the Atlantic Coast. If we divide into ethnic or sub-regional groups then we are dividing ourselves and a house divided will fall.

 PULSE:  Do you have any intention of organizing all the people from the Caribbean Coast who are in the United States, Cayman Islands and Canada to march on Washington (the nations capital) to let the people's voice be heard.

GREEN:  Absolutely not. We would love to be able to have all people from the Atlantic Coast on the same frame of mind.  This is the reason why we are having those workshops in Miami and Managua later this year, to inform, communicate and hopefully convince the majority to join this effort. However, we see no reason why we should march on Washington.  We need to focus on Nicaragua and identify steps that will help us get out of the current situation in which we find ourselves. Our problems are in Nicaragua not in Washington.

PULSE:  For those who may want to attend the meeting from out of state, what type of accommodations is being arranged?

GREEN:  Miami has an excellent hospitality industry that can accommodate the most demanding tastes.  Furthermore, most people out of state have contacts with people residing in Miami that could make their necessary arrangements upon request.  Hopefully, we could have these workshops in all states where a significant number of costeños reside, but given that we had to start somewhere it made sense to try Miami first given the size of the costeño population residing in South Florida.

PULSE:  For those seeking more information whom should they contact?

GREEN:  David Adalbert Johnson, at 305 643 3200.  His email is dajcarib@bellsouth.net.  His fax number is 305 643 6003, and his address is 1416 W. Flagler St, Miami, FL, 33135.  Soon we will have our website operating which will facilitate communication.

 


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