October 1, 1997

Dear Friends of URACCAN


You've not seen an issue of URACCAN UPDATE for awhile because our editor was out of the country for medical treatment for three months.

However, URACCAN has continued full-steam ahead and there is no lack of either routine or special activities on the three campus and at the national and international levels.

Viva la Autonomia

Felipe Stuart


Beginning Sunday, October 12, FADCANIC [Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua] will host a four day Symposium on Autonomy in Managua's Olaf Palme Convention Center.

More than 600 participants will attend from Nicaragua and 29 other countries from five continents. This will be the 3rd International Symposium. The first -- State, Autonomy, and Indigenous Rights -- was held in 1986, and a 2nd Symposium also sponsored by FADCANIC took place in Managua in November 1991. It was attended by over 400 invitees.

This year's symposium will "evaluate the extent to which Autonomy has advanced and been strengthened, its weaknesses, and the opportunities now before us," a FADCANIC brochure states.

As well, it will take up issues such as how to defend the Autonomy which is now under threat; it will analyze autonomy processes in other countries, especially ongoing struggles to win this right. In addition, workshops will be held on the "indiscriminate and irrational exploitation of our natural resources in the Atlantic Coast regions and the conditions of misery of our inhabitants." Plans and programs of the PEBI [Interncultural Bilingual Education Program] will also be evaluate.

The objective of the Symposium is two-fold: to allow for an interchange of experiences on the international level; and to develop a "plan de lucha" in defense of Autonomy.


The Symposium will be thoroughly pluralist in terms of the social and political range of invitees. They include: members of the Regional Autonomous Councils; community leaders; student and union representative from the Coast; Caribbean Coast university rectors; reps from the central government and from churches and NGOs; Costenos resident in the United States; different national political parties; the National Council of Universities; the Supreme Electoral Council; different business groups, including COSEP; and nationally acclaimed scholars and writers.

URACCAN's participation

Our university will play a major role in the Symposium both on the technical support level and in terms of academic and policy input. URRACAN has responsibility for the Round table and workshop on "Challenges of Autonomy from the Perspective of Indigenous Peoples". The final session, dedicated to discussing and approving a Declaration on Autonomy, will be moderated by our Rector, Dr. Mirna Cunningham.

Further Details

If you would like to obtain more information about the Symposium please contact the COMITE ORGANIZADOR at email address fadca@ibw.com.ni


URACCAN leader Johnny Hodgeson, from Bluefields, will join Pastor's for Peace in November for a fundraising-speaking tour for its Caravan to Central America.

Hodgeson is director of the Natural Resources, Environment, and Sustainable Development Institute of URACCAN.

For information about the speaking tour please contact:

P.O. Box 408130
Chicago, IL 60640-8130
(773) 271-4817 tel.
(773) 271-5269 fax
E-mail: p4p@igc.apc.org


Peter Costantini, a friend of URACCAN in the USA, has written an MSNBC News article on the consortium project to build a "dry canal" from Nicaragua's Monkey Point on the Caribbean to a Pacific Ocean port site near Rivas. The article is based on recent trips to our Region and on international research.

The story (pics and all)is available at Internet site:


An accompanying slide show on Monkey Point is at:



The junio-septiembre edition of WANI features a study on "Municipios y Comunidades: la Dimension Local de la Autonomia Regional" written by our Bluefields Campus Vice-Rector Miguel Gonzalez. It is taken from Chapter 8 of his book Gobierno Plurietnicos: la Constitucion de Regiones Autonomas en Nicagua. Un estudio sobre el Estado Nacional y la Autonomia Regional en la Costa Atlantica-Caribe, Editorial Plaza Valdez y URACCAN, abril 1997.

The Spanish-language WANI is published by the Centro de Investigaciones y Documentacion de la Costa Atlantica (CIDCA). It is beyond a doubt one the best sources of information and analysis about the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast. The Director is Alvaro Rivas.

E-mail contact for CIDCA is via: cidca@nicarao.apc.org.ni and/or uraccan@ibw.com.ni


Telephones: 505 822 1308 Fax: 505 822 1306
Email: autonomy@ibw.com.ni


Telephone/Fax: 505 282 2317


Via the Managua Office

Our entire history shows the existence of two radically contrasting and mutually contradictory juridical orders. One unfolded on the Pacific of Nicaragua where the Spaniards eliminated established indigenous cultures. From 1502 to 1555 the population of more than a million people was reduced to less than 50,000 . Those Pacific coast indigenous peoples lost their culture and underwent forced assimilation into the dominant Spanish culture.

History on the Atlanctic Region was different. To increase their changes of survival in face of the Spanish menance, the indigenous people of the Atlantic allied first with pirates and later with the English. Spain, because of that alliance, was never able to exercize sovereignty over the Atlantic Region which constitutes 50% of Nicaragua's [present] territory. England established a protectorate in this region that lasted until 1894. This alliance...is one of the factor that enabled our peoples to preserve fundamental aspects of our culture intact until now: our languages, forms of social organization, traditions, and communal properties.

In 1894 the Nicaraguan government headed by President Zelaya conquered the Atlantic [area] with the support of thearmed forces of the United States. Lands and forest and mineral resources were handed out to foreign U.S. companies and the governing class of that time. All that came with a process of cultural assimilation or integrationism that one Nicaraguan government after another fostered. In that way, the inhabitants of the coast ceased to control their own destiny and went on the become second-class citizens."

Taken from the Introduction to the FADCANIC Press Statement convoking the III International Symposium on Autonomy, Managua, October 12-14, 1997.