12 August 2009

Nicaragua's Miskitos Seeking Independence?

The BBC reported on 03 August 2009, in an article by Stephen Gibbs titled "Nicaragua's Miskitos seek independence," that a group of elders have proclaimed their loyalty to the "Community Nation of Moskitia." No indication is provided of the degree to which these elders represent the popular wishes of fellow Miskitos (indeed, it is cast in doubt), or how this plan for sovereignty will impact on other, non-Miskito indigenous persons on the Caribbean coast of the country, as well as non-indigenous Nicaraguans. We are told, however, that they have a flag and an anthem.

Gibbs suggests that the main reason for the proclamation of independence is primarily economic: outrageously high unemployment of 80% in some parts, while oil drilling concessions in the area are being offered, and the fact that those employed on government-licensed lobster fishing vessels have seen their wages cut.

The Miskitos were allied with the British throughout the 1700s and 1800s. In the 1980s, many joined and supported the US-funded and equipped contras, fighting against the Sandinista Revolution. The president at the time, Daniel Ortega, is once again the president, and the article provides no indication of any response from him. The Sandinista government in the 1980s was the first in the Americas to produce an ambitious autonomy plan for the so-called "Atlantic Coast" region.

No comments: