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Celebration of 40 years of UK – Nicaragua solidarity

NSC News | Friday, 5 July 2019 |

Mural in Managua painted by coffee brigadistas from England, Scotland, and Wales: solidarity is the tenderness of the peoples (Che Guevara)

Mural in Managua painted by coffee brigadistas from England, Scotland, and Wales: solidarity is the tenderness of the peoples (Che Guevara)

Celebration of 40 years of UK – Nicaragua solidarity

‘The essence of solidarity is political and moral support and mutual learning…above all, the feeling of not being alone.’ Nicaragua 1980s activist and former NSC board member, Carmen Barreda

Christine Blower, National Education Union, chaired this celebration in London on 29 June, attended by forty past and present NSC and NSCAG activists.

We dedicated the event to the Nicaraguan people and the organisations we have worked in solidarity with for their generosity of spirit, and above all, their profound commitment against enormous odds to building a society based on social and economic justice, free from outside interference.

The celebration was an opportunity to acknowledge the involvement of tens of thousands of people particularly in the UK trade labour movement, who have contributed to sustaining UK – Nicaragua solidarity through four decades of profound political change in Nicaragua, the UK and globally.

Exiled Chilean academic, and member of the NSC Board, Francisco Dominguez explained why Nicaragua was such a beacon of hope regionally and internationally following the US-backed coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. He highlighted the ways in which the Sandinista Revolution represented the fulfilment of dreams that had been brutally destroyed in Chile.

Helen Yuill, NSC communications and events co-ordinator, drew parallels between the Reagan administration’s determination to destroy the Sandinista government in the 1980s, and the rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration today.

For example President Ronald Reagan when imposing a trade embargo on Nicaragua in 1985 declared a ‘state of emergency’ because “the policies and actions of the Sandinistas constituted a threat to United States security.” President Trump did likewise in 2018 when he declared an illegal and immoral trade embargo on Nicaragua.

Helen went on to highlight the many different ways in which tens of thousands of people in the UK have contributed to a two way process of solidarity between the UK and Nicaragua over four decades.

NSC fundraiser, Stella Embliss introduced a video called ‘100,000 miles in May’ which follows the powerful story of the motivations of some of the participants in a sponsored bike ride from London to Oxford in 1987 in which 1,800 took part and raised £40,000 for NSC.

NSCAG trade union co-ordinator Louise Richards, spoke about the key role that UK trade unions have played in sustaining solidarity with Nicaragua, in particular with their Nicaraguan counterparts. She added: “Solidarity is about more than practical, moral and political issues. It’s about building solid bonds of friendship, trust and confidence over many years.

“For our Nicaraguan comrades, solidarity has shown them that they are never alone, not even in the darkest of days.”

Julie Lamin, a National Education Union member, introduced a film made during a teacher exchange programme involving the NEU, the Nicaraguan teachers’ union ANDEN, and the Ministry of Education. Insert link to video

Nick Hoskyns, who has worked in Nicaragua since the 1980s with co-operatives, spoke about the importance of co-operatives and the social economy in Nicaragua and how they have played a leading role internationally in the Fair trade movement.

Nicaraguan ambassador Guisell Morales explained how critical international solidarity was in the 1980s in preventing a direct US invasion of Nicaragua. She went on to stress the importance of continuing international solidarity, thanking NSC for its work over so many years.

The day finished with messages from Nicaraguan trade unions and co-operatives and thanks to the thousands of people in the UK who have participated in our work.