Archive for April, 2010

Political Justice: Can Any Executive Branch Anywhere Play Fair With Justice?

The latest installment from Ernesto Somarriba in Chinandega, Nicaragua (April 21, 2010)


There are some judges in the judiciary that have to leave office after a determined period of time. This is Federal Law in Nicaragua. This period has already finished for them, so they are expected to leave their jobs, and someone else will be chosen to fulfill their function. This branch of the State of Nicaragua is divided in the two majority parties (Liberales and Sandinistas). I am sad to tell you that the Sandinistas (Left) and Liberales (Right) are sharing this important branch of the Federal Government of my country.

There are two important judges that have already finished their period in power. Their names are Rafael Solis and Armengol Cuadra. These two judges are Sandinistas. They refuse to leave their charge at the judiciary because they want to keep earning a lot of money and to continue with the benefits the State of Nicaragua gives to them. They want to continue doing what they have been doing for the last four years (of course nothing for our country). But the worst thing is not that, the worst thing is that our president Daniel Ortega supports them. Why? Because they are on the same program for control and Daniel wants to whatever he wants with this branch of the state of Nicaragua. He wants to get the total control of all the branches of the State.

I want to ask a question to anyone who reads this article. Do you think that the judiciary power has to be controlled by the President of a country? Or by the party that is in power? It has to be an independent branch of the state so that they will work for the well being of the country. But here in Nicaragua, it doesn’t work like that. The president tries to manipulate all the branches of the state because he believes he represents Nicaragua, but I don’t think he represents me.

Liberales also want to maintain their power. So they make pacts with Ortega, looking out for their well being, but not for our well being as Nicaraguans. Together they share the branches of the state for their benefit. When I look at this, I feel anger, because if we continue on this path, Nicaragua will never have important economic, political, educational, or health care development.

This situation makes me sad because I am Nicaraguan; I live here and care about these issues. I want Nicaragua to have a real process of change for our well being. Right now I’m not speaking as a Sandinista or even as a Liberal, I’m speaking as a Nicaraguan, I’m speaking as someone who loves this land, I’m speaking as a head of a family, I’m speaking as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a father, as a person.  I hope some day we will have important and real positive change for the well being of our country and our children.

Ernesto Somarriba

Comments on Coffeelands Blog

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Michael Sheridan, coordinator of the CAFE Livelihoods project of Catholic Relief Services. Michael lives and works with farmers throughout Mexico and Central America and is a long-time fair trade ambassador, organizer, and farmer advocate. Last fall Michael launched the “Coffeelands Blog” that offers “a view from the field” sharing his insight into the critical issues facing farmers and their communities in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Michael and I met up at the recent Specialty Coffee Association of America annual conference in Anaheim California to compare notes on our efforts to support farmers as they confront the challenges posed by climate change. He was moved to write a reflection on our conversation, part of which I’ll share here. Please visit his blog for the whole story, and links to other interesting, challenging, and illuminating posts (and some great photos too!)

Thanksgiving was involved in some of the pioneering investments in coffee quality at origin — investments that strengthen the coffee chain and improve the profitability and quality of life of everyone involved.  It has applied that same standard to climate change and is pushing forth into the considerably more uncertain fields of mitigation and adaptation not as charity, but as a way to protect core business processes and current profit margins. Here’s hoping for more hard-headed business decisions like this one in the industry in the months and years to come.

www.coffeelands.crsdomains.org


Thanks to Michael and CRS for their ongoing commitment to the farmers of Central America. We’re lucky to have such great allies in this movement. Here’s looking forward to more sharing ideas, strategies, and blog posts too!

-BCM

Nicaragua Journal: Jinotega, Nicaragua – February 2010

It was our third day on the road and we were feeling good. The simple diet of rice, beans, eggs, chicken and beef, plus mangoes and papayas was beginning to provide native energy. We were not in conflict with the food we were eating, we were in harmony with it. And we all had lots of sleep last night. So after breakfast we took a stroll in the central square where these photos were taken. Just a slice of life in a dreamy coffee town in the most important coffee growing region in Nicaragua and the home of SOPPEXCCA, a small scale producer cooperative we have been purchasing coffee from for over a decade. Flor de Jinotega: sweet, caramelly with cashew notes in the finish – just great stuff. A really progressive cooperative also. Here are six photos that will tell you what you need to know about Jinotega (if you examine them closely)…
A garbage can on a street corner. Could be Manhattan or your home town, lots of plastic… because it is the can for recycling plastic! They are soooo hip. Look at how attractive, festive, these cans look. Makes you want to throw away things just to see if music comes out .

This fruit stand was selling mangoes that tasted like sorbet (mango sorbet) for five cents each. The cart was “hecho a mano” (handmade) the tire is illegal and there is no running water or ice, but the health department is not shutting down the economy today. It is known that about 80% of the world’s commerce is “unofficial” and unreported. It is a problem worth many more words as the implications of not being able to get credit go way beyond mortgages and car loans.

This church was and is magnificent. I’m not Catholic, but it felt Holy in there just the same.

And the revolution shall not be forgotten. A monument is on the rise and it will overlook the town square for the next 100 years.

You can tell, the mood was up. Left to right Ben, Jenais, Nick, and Jody.  And that’s  how we started our day.

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