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Our history

UK solidarity with Nicaragua 1979 - 2013

The Sandinista Revolution in 1979 and its achievements against enormous odds inspired a massive mobilisation of political, material and moral solidarity, particularly in Latin America, Europe and North America. The NSC, founded in 1978, was one of an estimated 2,500 groups involving hundreds of thousands of people that condemned US covert warfare and campaigned to highlight the social and economic transformation of Nicaragua. The inspiration of Nicaragua was particularly important during the right-wing attacks on fundamental rights that characterised Thatcherite Britain. Since 1990 we have continued our solidarity work with trade unions, agricultural co-operatives, and the Nicaragua Community Movement.

In September 2004 NSC became a charity. Work with UK and Nicaraguan trade unions is carried out by the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group

Nicaraguan perspectives on solidarity

It was only the honest and open hand of solidarity that sustained us ... by protesting against the war and the blockade, by the sweat of their campaigning to collect money to support Free Nicaragua. In this new scenario they are helping through projects of life and hope for the poorest - working mothers, organised producers, unions in struggle - supporting us with education and training and buying Fairtrade coffee.

Fatima Ismael, Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (UCA), SOPPEXCCA

Thanks to international solidarity, Reagan never managed to build the coalition of international forces to justify direct US military intervention. The Nicaraguan Revolution’s first line of defence was the hearts and actions of international solidarity. Solidarity, pure, clean and disinterested led many to give the maximum commitment, even sacrificing their own lives for the love of the Nicaraguan people.

Monica Baltodano, independent National Assembly deputy.

...solidarity should promote an equal and fair exchange between nations, great and small. It should adjust its contributions to the needs of the country it supports. This means not imposing conditions on support in a way that undermine our dignity.

Aracely Barreda, university teacher, Esteli

Lawyer Henry Spooner and actors Alfred Molina and Maggie Steed  taking part in a protest outside the US embassy in London demanding US recognition of the World Court verdict in London in 1987. Credit: Julio EtchartLawyer Henry Spooner and actors Alfred Molina and Maggie Steed taking part in a protest outside the US embassy in London demanding US recognition of the World Court verdict in London in 1987. Credit: Julio Etchart

In 1986 the International Court of Justice found the US guilty of breaches of international law relating to the arming and training of an illegal paramilitary organisation (the contras), mining Nicaragua's harbours, and imposing a trade embargo. The Court ruled that the US cease all aggression against Nicaragua and pay reparations. The US walked out and refused to accept the jurisdiction of the Court or to pay the estimated $12 billion damage to the country’s infrastructure.

NSC’s Achievements

In the 1980s we put Nicaragua on the map in the UK and helped build a broad cross-party consensus that condemned US military and economic aggression against Nicaragua and supported the achievements of the Sandinista government. We played a key role in counteracting the intense media campaign that in the Thatcher - Reagan cold war era depicted Nicaragua as a communist totalitarian dungeon with troops poised to storm the Texan border.

Over 1,500 people from Britain have visited Nicaragua on work brigades, study tours and delegations organised by NSC and NSCAG. Speakers tours of the UK and visits to Nicaragua have created strong, lasting ties of friendship and solidarity.

NSC and NSCAG have acted as catalysts for the creation of many other organisations and groups such as the Nicaragua Health Fund (later merged with One World Action), Environmental Network for Nicaragua (later the Environmental Network for Central America) and the Nicaragua Women’s Network (later the Central America Women’s Network). Wales NSC and 12 local groups have long-standing twinning links with towns and communities in Nicaragua.

NSC and NSCAG have raised over £1 million for medical and educational supplies, trade unions, women's organisations, the Community Movement and for emergency supplies for survivors of Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane Felix.

Following the electoral defeat of 1990 we reoriented our work from supporting a party in government to facilitating two-way exchanges based on mutual support between sectors and groups in the UK and Nicaragua, ranging from trade unions and towns and communities with twinning links, to women’s organisations, Nicaraguan Fairtrade producers and UK Fairtrade activists. Thirty five years on NSC and NSCAG remain active and committed to promoting solidarity links between the UK and Nicaragua.

Our thanks to UK trade unions and the thousands of people in the UK who have been inspired by and supported Nicaragua in so many different ways.