Since 2009, Western University’s Alternative Spring Break program has been visiting Nicaragua through a number of different community partners (International Service Learning, Outreach360, Compañeros).
In 2018, ASB sent 2 groups of students to Nicaragua during February’s Reading Week. Unfortunately, due to the rapid unravelling of conflicting events in Nicaragua, the ASB program has no plans to send students there in 2019. We understand students may be disappointed in this news, and we share your mixed emotions.
We continue to value our Nicaraguan partners, and are committed to monitoring the situation for 2020 and beyond.
What do we plan to do, and what can Western students do? Gonzalo Duarte, Executive Director with Compañeros have suggested the following 3 actions:
- Send your positive thoughts toward all involved in this crisis (see The Atlantic). Hope for the government and its forces to show mercy, justice, and good governance. Hope for the protesters to rally around peaceful and productive political and social outcomes. Hope for collaborative leadership to emerge that represents the best interests of the most number of citizens. Hope for the safety and well-being of our on-the-ground partners and associated communities.
- KEEP yourself critically informed of complex issues by using a variety of sources, such as mainstream media, social media, and first-hand accounts. For example OAS Report and Confidentialand BBC News and The Guardian and Jim’s Blog and Steve’s Blog. CONNECT your knowledge, skills, and values in-person and/or online with Canadian-Nicaraguans in your area working to bring peace and justice to their homeland. For example, two grassroots Facebook groups one could follow are: Nicaraguan Canadian Association and Nicaragua Resiste Canada.
- APPEAL to the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minster of Foreign Affairs, and Her Excellency Jennifer Loten, Canada’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States, to raise more vociferously Canada’s opposition to the trampling of human rights and democratic institutions in Nicaragua; and, to offer their tangible support to multi-sector stakeholders seeking a peaceful and productive resolution.