Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 37 | Julio 1984




Envío team

It was necessary to relocate Miskitus living along the banks of Nicaragua’s Río Coco: The Sandinista government based its actions on this hypothesis. This necessity was imposed by the counterrevolution’s constant military aggression from across the very river that constitutes the border between the two countries. This river border was dotted with small, defenseless villages, most of which were inaccessible, except by river.

Errors occurred during the relocation, as the preceding articles clearly demonstrate. However, neither these errors nor certain abuses of power—which were punished—contradicted the need for the move nor represented a willful violation of human rights by the Sandinista government.

Nevertheless, the Miskitu problem cannot be reduced to the relocation of these communities, nor was it solved by their reorganization in Tasba Pri. The problem has roots that are centuries old, as well as multifaceted implications. Within the nation that Nicaragua has been attempting to become since its 1979 victory, there exist cultures, feelings and technical, economic and religious factors that cannot be forgotten if we are to understand the indigenous question in all its complexity and search for a solution in this region inhabited by Miskitus, Sumus, Ramas, Creoles and a high percentage of mestizos (63% of the total population). This complexity heightens tensions and makes the road toward integration very bumpy, especially in the midst of military aggression, a war of attrition and the need to give priority to defense measures. Even the concept of “integration” is debated within the ethnic minorities themselves.

The US administration is aware of the mistakes committed by the FSLN and the recently awakened ethnic pride and consciousness in a population for which the rulers of the United States never had any interest in the past. The US is intent on selling the people of the Atlantic Coast region an impossible dream: the conquest of its own nation. The manipulation of naïve “nativism” in those to whom this dream is sold explains many things. It explains the camps near Mokorón in Honduras, where thousands of Miskitus are crowded together and then taken off to participate in counterrevolutionary military training. It explains the “holy war” in which the Miskitus have been convinced or forced to participate. It also explains the political alliances the Miskitus have accepted with groups that only defend their own interests and have no interest in ethnic aspirations.

The Nicaraguan government is presently faced with a situation in which the Miskitu question becomes completely unmanageable if handled only at a political level. The counterrevolutionary military incursions are gradually erasing the border with Honduras and destroying the Miskitus’ natural habitat. Despite the difficulties, enormous efforts have brought about improvements in living conditions for the Miskitus who have been relocated. Regardless of the complications it may cause with respect to inheritance, the decision to distribute plots of land on an individual basis in the different settlements will alleviate the tensions that have naturally been created in a political forced to move to a new territory.

In the immediate future, the primary problem will be the military defense of the border formed by the Río Coco. On a long-term basis, the main concerns in the settlements will be political and educational. The best hope for the future seems to be a serious plan for a strategical alliance with the indigenous groups aimed at fostering peace in the Atlantic Coast region. Peace and stability would pave the way for a just political treatment of the problem. Any immediate solutions that could be found would help the Miskitus develop their political consciousness, which would also be useful in achieving peace.

The Miskitu problem must be solved, and its solution is closely linked to the general alternatives that all Nicaragua is presently facing. If Nicaragua is forced to evolve toward the model of a nation tightly aligned to the Eastern bloc, the Miskitu question will be resolved through a total merger of the Miskitus into a national plan. The indigenous question would then be interpreted dogmatically within the context of a certain Marxist viewpoint that barely recognizes the ethnic problem.

If Nicaragua were to return, by force or otherwise, to a position of total domination by the US, the indigenous problem would disappear, not because it would be solved but rather because life in the Atlantic Coast region would return to the past, a past in which the foreign economic interests were only concerned with the exploitation of the Miskitus’ territory, not with their ethnic demands.

In the model that the Sandinista government continues to promote, that of a nonaligned nation, the Miskitu question remains a challenge that can only be met within a process of authentic integration. The answer may be found in a strategic alliance that would enrich all Nicaraguans. The objective of such an alliance would be to form a nation of people who could stay united and live in peace, while preserving the beauty and richness of their diverse ethnic origins.

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The Miskitu Question in Nicaragua

A Divided People A Manipulated Banner?

The Miskitus and the Atlantic Coast


A Policy of Genocide?

Concerning the Schlaefer Case
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