Fast Forwa

This week two major campaigns are launched to raise much needed money for Nicaragua. Donald McKinney talked to Johnny Hodgson. Co-ordinator ofthe Regional Autonomy Commission for the South Atlantic Coast and discovered that while Nicaragua needs Scotland‘s money. perhaps Scotland needs Nicaragua‘s advice on Devolution.

When Hurricane Joan struck Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast last year. the UK Government response was dcrisory. "l‘hey offered us some food. We turned it down.‘ says Johnny Hodgson. ‘What we need is to build boats and plant crops.‘ 'I‘his pragmatic approach to their problems is typical of the Nicaraguans who live on the Atlantic Coast. Not for them the empty rhetoric ofthe politicians. ()n his current tour ofthe UK. Johnny Hodgson has met government officials. "l’hey said they were interested.‘ he says. ‘but we‘ll wait andsecf

The Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua has 10"? ofthe population but 50"} ofthe natural resources. It is peopled by Sumu. Miskitos and Rama Indians together with the creoles and g garifunos who are descended from African slaves. Unlike the homogenous. Hispanic. Catholic Nicaraguans of the Pacific Coast. most are Protestant and part of an old British colony. Indeed 30"? still speak English. As Johnny Hodgson sees it. ‘We have had support of ordinary people throughout the UK and through organisations like OXFAM. Nicaraguan Solidarity Campaign and others. From the UK government. no help. Yet the Atlantic coast was a British colony and Britain has benefited from its resources.‘

Hodgson is in this country helping to promote OXFAM‘s National Fast in support of Nicaragua. It is anticipated that thousands ofpeople in Scotland will fast for twenty four hours on the third. fourth or fifth of November raising over 50.000 towards providing clean clean water

su lies forthe hurricane rava ed 8

town of Blueficlds. Edinburgh‘s Nicaraguan twin town. For {250.000 each individual will be supplied with seven litres of good water per day. Clear about what he hopes to gain from the OXFAM Fast. Hodgson says. "l‘o overturn nine years of a war imposed by the United States. four years of an American embargo and destruction by the hurricane. we have the will but we need the moral solidarity and goodwill of the industrial world to allow us to build back. so that decisions taken can be respected. We can‘t do it all ourselves.’ Because aid from major international agencies like the World Bank are blocked by the CSA and


the UK. OXFAM is having to move into new commercial areas like helping to fund a freezing plant to allow the Nicaraguans to export their fish catches.

As part of his visit to Scotland. Hodgson will also be meeting Canon Kenyon Wright ofthe Scottish Constitutional Convention to discuss the Nicaraguan approach to devolution. Kevin Dunion. a regular visitor to Nicaragua. points out that the Atlantic Coast is as different from the rest of the country as Scotland is from England. But while the CSA is planning a consultation process lasting only a couple of months. the Nicaraguans trained hundreds of people to canvass the views of people all over the Atlantic Coast. in small villages and even among the Contra troops. ‘lt was a real consultation exercise.‘

As support for Nicaragua becomes increasingly urgent. Scottish Education and Action for Development are launching a new campaign. asking people to contribute one per cent oftheir monthly income to a fund. llalfof the money raised will go to SEAD and halfspecifically to help support ‘Sunrise‘. the only bilingual local newspaper for the region.

It is hoped that the campaign explodes the myth that Nicaragua is a banana republic with nothing to offer an advanced society like the UK. economically. politically or culturally As SEAD‘s LindaUray put it. ‘We need to turn Nicaragua into people.‘ Hodgson maintains that the people of the Atlantic Coast ‘can identify with the people of Britain and the people of Britain can identify with the people of Nicaragua. Ifmore become conscious about what is happening then they can help convert the will of the Atlantic Coast people into reality.‘

'"immaim" Local Campaign para-alum.

IOXFAM TalkJohnny Groups I1894 AtlanticCoast llodgson. Co-ordinator of . . incorporated into

the Regional Autonomy .Ed'nburgh alumelds Nicaragua.

Commission for the South Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. will be

Association Linda (iray. c o SliAl). 3‘) Nicolson Square. lidinburgh El IS

I 1936 Somoza family seize control ofthe country.

speakingat apublic VBX. I1979 Sandinistasgain meeting sponsored by I Edinburgh Latin power. Somoza flees ()Xl-‘AM and the American Solidarity country.

Edinburgh Bluefields Association on Saturday

28 October at 7.30pm in

the ()chil Room.

Socieities Centre. the Pleasance.

I OXFAM Fast for

Nicaragua is being held on 3—5 November. Sponsor forms and further details from Liz South. OXFAM. 36 Palmerston Place. Edinburgh. 031 325 9330.

I 1% Campaign l-‘or more information about

SEAD's Nicaragua 1‘} Campaign. contact

SEAD. 2‘) Nicolson Square. Edinburgh. 031 66701390130. 1

608 0414.

Campaign Contact through SliAl) above.

I Scottish Medical Aidfor Nicaragua Volunteer Centre. (ilasgow. 35—27 lilmbank Street. (ilasgow. 226 2-13].

I Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign 23 Bevenden Street. London N1 68H. 01

History of the Atlantic Coast I 1589 English and Dutch

pirates set upbases.

I 1687 First Miskito King. Jeremy 1. Independent [one set tip under English

I 1981 'l'cnsions escalate in the region. Key leaders ofthe Miskilos join the Contras.

I 1982 Miskito communities in the war zone forcibly moved.

I 1983 Anmesty decree for Miskilos.

I 1984 First free elections held in Nicaragua.



I 1987 Nicaragaun

constituion enacted which

recognises autonomy for

the Atlantic Coast

{ regions.

Two Scottish novels from


A Sparrow’s Flight

Margaret Elphinstone

\l ir,:rrr-: l jun-Noni

:\ Spar‘row's l‘iight

In her second novel Margaret Elphinstone describes a journey made by Naomi and Thomas into the kind of future which bears a strong relation to the past. Set in the Borders. the book follows their journey as they unknowingly cross and re- cross an unseen border.

November Pb £8.95

The Trick is to Keep Breathing

Janice Galloway

Somewhere in the West of Scotland 3 young female drama teacher is losing her grip on the world yet the wit and irony found in her moments of despair prove to be the making of the heroine.

November Pb £7.95

New catalogue now available from 22 George Square. Edinburgh EH8 9LF

The List 27 October 9 November 1989 79