Category Archives: Independence Day

PROPOSAL FOR A COUNTRY AGENDA, Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, NICARAGUA 2020

The week before the celebration of Nicaraguan and Latin Ameican independence (Sept 14 &15), the Civic Alliance published their proposed country agenda, which they expect will be enriched by consultation with people at the grassroots level. That consensus document follows.

PROPOSAL FOR A COUNTRY AGENDA

Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, NICARAGUA 2020

[Original Spanish]

Our Agenda for a New Nicaragua is Humanistic, placing the HUMAN BEING, each Nicaraguan, at the center of development and public policy plans.

Our Principles:

We believe in the right of each Nicaraguan to equal and holistic development

We believe that each man and each woman should have the capacity to achieve their aspirations and enhance their fulfillment, personal and economic well being

We believe in a Nicaragua where dictatorships do not happen again; in a Democratic State

We believe in political pluralism, in the freedom of Nicaraguans to express themselves and form associations

We believe that democracy is based on citizen participation in the governance of the country

We believe in the need to create and strengthen a true Rule of Law

We believe in freedom, in a State that respects public liberties

We believe in the fact that HUMAN RIGHTS are inalienable and sacrosanct.

Aspirations

  1. A new Nicaragua
  2. Eradicating the old way of doing politics
  3. Genuine and fair Rule of law.
  4. Justice for the victims of abuses of Human Rights violations.
  5. Social policy that would ensure equity and sustainable human development
  6. Economic policies aimed at productive transformation, generating quality jobs and development with equity.

Social

  1. The State will ensure quality public services.
  2. Social policy will ensure equal opportunities
  3. Projects will be implemented for social housing, nutrition, attention to children and the elderly
  4. Reviewing rates for water, light, taxes and garbage, as well as other municipal services.
  5. Social Security will have to be reformed without affecting the poor nor retirees.

Health Care

  1. Improvement of salaries and working conditions for health care workers.
  2. Incrementally, appropriate and sustainable financing of health care will be achieved, with equity and efficiency, reducing out of pocket costs.
  3. Health information systems will be strengthened in order to support the formulation of evidence-based policies and decision making
  4. Prevention, detection, monitoring and response to outbreaks of disease will be strengthened, responsibly applying the International Health Regulations.
  5. Revision of the conditions of social security, treatments, guaranties of quality and coverage.
  6. Immediate depoliticization of the health care system
  7. Access to health care without discrimination will be promoted
  8. Reinstatement of all fired health care workers, as well as expelled students.
  9. Begin a program of inclusive holistic health care, including mental health, for victims of the conflict.
  10. Implementation of a program for the return from exile of human talent in health care.
  11. Universal, free and equitable access to to holistic, quality health services and to medicines will be ensured.

Education

  1. Immediate depoliticization of all schools
  2. Reinstatement of all teachers expelled or fired, as well as students
  3. Public education in Nicaragua will be free, high quality and pertinent.
  4. Primary education in Nicaragua will continue being obligatory
  5. Review of the salary table for teachers, in accordance with their capacities and level of study.
  6. Modernization of educational programs
  7. Inclusion in the curriculum of values of inclusion, integrity, honesty, civility, critical awareness, discipline, responsibility, revitalization of cultural identity and protection of the environment.
  8. University autonomy, academic freedom and democracy will be fully respected in the universities
  9. A cultural policy will be designed that promotes the arts and creativity, as well as protect the cultural manifestations of the Nicaraguan people themselves.

Youth

The youth agenda has been thought through in order to respond to the problems of youth in the country, expressed in demands of the State as well as civil society in its entirety.

In terms of the State, youth demand:

  1. Application of the Law for youth
  2. Application of the Law of Access to Public Information, which allows for full accountability, clarity and easily understood, publication in all communication media.
  3. Reestablishment of public freedoms, particularly the freedom of expression, organization, and mobilization of students.
  4. Spaces for employment in accordance with the academic plans offered by different universities and technical schools in Nicaragua.
  5. Eliminate political sponsorship in order to get a job.
  6. Not being discriminated against for ones political decisions and ideas
  7. Education without political biases
  8. Opportunities for new spaces for entrepreneurship
  9. Programs for food and citizen protection for those who live outside of Nicaragua
  10. Voting for youth outside the country.
  11. Protection for reserves and green areas
  12. Access of youth to legislative spaces
  13. Training and recreational spaces
  14. Respect for Human Rights as youth

Youth, also youth demand of civil society:

  1. Unity in action and international lobbying (Coordination of civil society)
  2. Inclusion of exiles in processes of political unity
  3. Promotion of decent spaces for contributing ideas
  4. Preparation and training to participate in elections
  5. Formational spaces for knowledge about political history and current events
  6. Strengthen spaces of trust among citizens
  7. More inclusive system of participation
  8. Organization of all the movements of youth born before, during and after April 2018
  9. Construction and strengthening of this national agenda of youth for youth.

Culture

The State will be a facilitator and promoter of culture, far from any propaganda or ideology. Full independence will be established for creators and their cultural manifestations.

  1. The Institute of Culture will be reorganized to have an appropriate and efficient cultural institution to carry out a cultural policy that cares for the cultural values and assets of the nation, and guarantees the freedom of creation, developing spaces and providing appropriate means so that creators can have support for their creations.
  2. The publication of national or literary or general interest works will be promoted, offering fiscal incentives to national publishers and eventually creating a state publisher.
  3. Human and material resources will be assigned for the conservation of monuments and cultural assets. The export of archaeological pieces will be overseen and controlled, and other artistic works that would be considered national patrimony.
  4. Creation of a Museum of Visual Arts
  5. The teaching of plastic arts, theatre, dance, music, cinema and audiovisual arts will be strengthened
  6. The National Literary Award will be created
  7. Program for the promotion of reading, and network of public libraries, including the use of digital networks.
  8. Fiscal incentives will be offered for the private sponsorship of museums, expositions, fairs, and festivals for poetry, literature, music, dance, cinema, plastic arts, among other cultural expressions.

Sustainable Economic Development

The objective of the political economy will be economic growth with social equity and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on the development of Nicaraguans and the realization of their aspirations.

  1. The right to private, collective and community property will be protected.
  2. The free market, productive diversification, and the generation of highly productive jobs will be promoted, with well-paid salaries and taking advantage of world trade opportunities
  3. Developing productive skills in the youth that would promote new and better jobs
  4. Policies that stimulate activities like tourism, agro-industry and construction.
  5. The promotion of direct foreign investment and national investment will be fundamental for the process of productive reactivation and transformation.
  6. Holistic reform of the electric energy generation, transmission and distribution system. Promotion of renewable sources.
  7. The safe return of exiles will have to be incentivized and creating programs so that they can invest in new undertakings.
  8. Promoting programs for financing innovations, putting them at the disposition of entrepreneurs.
  9. Designing a credit policy that would promote the production of agriculture, ranching and its derivatives, fishing and other sectors.
  10. Reactivation and/or construction of the highway system and productive roads.

Environment

  1. Natural reserves will be respected and protected, preventing land invasions.
  2. India Maíz and Bosawas will be reforested and the settlement of new inhabitants will be prevented within the reserves
  3. Promoting reforestation and natural regeneration
  4. The exploitation of natural wealth will be rationally regulated.
  5. Water pollution through industrial waste will be prohibited and sanctioned, projects will be done to clean up water reserves
  6. The use of the coasts will be regulated
  7. Campaigns will be carried out to educate the population to take care of public spaces
  8. Fiscal benefits for ecological reserves

Aspirations of the Caribbean Coast

  1. That the programs come from a commitment of the national state, so that there is no interruption by changes of the parties in power.
  2. That the legal advances in matters of the recognition of the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples which the State of Nicaragua has achieved up to now be maintained and recognized
  3. Completion of the Autonomy Regime.

Justice

  1. There will be justice for those guilty of violations of the human rights of citizens
  2. Creation of an Independent Truth Commission and a special prosecutor
  3. All action of justice will have as its principal objective the victim and their relatives.
  4. Entry into the country of the IACHR and the OHCHR
  5. El Chipote will be closed and torture eradicated.
  6. Reform of the justice system that includes a new national forensic and criminal laboratory system with full autonomy.
  7. The culture of non-violence will be promoted for the resolution of differences between Nicaraguans.
  8. The Statute of Rome will be signed and ratified by the State of Nicaragua.
  9. Amnesty Law 966 will be annulled.
  10. Return of confiscated properties.

The Rule of Law

  1. Nicaraguans will recover all constitutional rights and guarantees.
  2. Independence of the branches of government.
  3. Reform of the Constitution to definitively eliminate presidential re-election.
  4. Corruption will be fought head on.
  5. The freedom of the press, freedom of expression and demonstration will be re-established.
  6. Strict compliance with the civil service and administrative career, access to public information and citizen participation laws.
  7. Gender equality, non-discrimination will be promoted, and violence against women, minors, indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples will be fought.
  8. Reforming the Army and National Police.
  9. Paramilitary groups will be eradicated, who will be put into the hands of justice.
  10. The functioning of municipal autonomy will be reinforced.
  11. Canal Law 840 will be repealed.

Equality before the Law

  1. Adherence to the reformed Constitution
  2. No one is above the law, regardless of their religious beliefs, political affiliation and gender.
  3. Respect for private, collective and community property.
  4. Respect for the mechanisms of the free market, formal and informal.

Electoral Reforms

  1. The electoral branch will be reformed in a holistic manner in accordance with the already prepared reform proposals by the electoral reform roundtable. Among the most urgent reforms are:
  2. a) A new Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) composed of honest citizens, along with changes in the structures of the CSE
  3. b) Unrestricted national and international observation
  4. c) Clean-up of the electoral rolls
  5. d) Access and functioning without impediments for political party poll watchers.
  6. e) Publication of electoral results in real time.
  7. f) Access of all citizens to free identity cards
  8. g) Elimination of two-party system
  9. h) Flexibilization of requirements for the registration of electoral alliances
  10. i) Voting from outside the country
  11. The electoral branch will fulfill its function with transparency, communication, information and integrity during all the phases of the electoral process.
  12. A new Political Party law will be created that facilitates the formation of new young political parties.

A Social Contract

  1. This proposed program is conceived as the basis which should be enriched with the contributions of different social sectors.
  2. We do not believe in programs imposed from above.
  3. This Agenda is the basis for a SOCIAL CONTRACT where all of us commit ourselves to working together for this just country.

Decalogue

  1. We Nicaraguans will be equal before the law.
  2. We will be equal in our rights to receive social benefits from the State.
  3. All of us Nicaraguans will contribute to the development of our country through our taxes.
  4. Respect for public freedoms: freedom of the press, to organize, to demonstrate, freedom of expression.
  5. The environment, water and reserves will be respected and cared for.
  6. Independence among the branches of the State.
  7. Free, transparent and supervised elections that prevent forever strong men and dictatorships.
  8. A clear Social Contract in effect of democratic exercise from the national level to the communities.
  9. Justice. The crimes suffered by the population will be prosecuted.
  10. Army and Police will be reformed to fulfill the law, obey civilian authorities and be apolitical and professional.

 

 

 

They’re Coming to America

“Free, only want to be free, We huddle close, Hang on to a dream.” 

America by Neil Diamond

There’s no shortage of patriotic music today, July 4.  From God Bless America sung by Kate Smith to America by Simon and Garfunkle,  America the Beautiful by Ray Charles, God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood, I’ve heard songs all day in honor of our nation’s birthday.  It’s part of the enjoyment that is the 4th of July, the quintessential holiday in our country.  But there was one song that stopped me and caught my breath as I listened to it.   It was America by Neil Diamond.  Both the music and the lyrics are powerful, which is why the song became so popular when originally released.  But today the words hit hard, and rang with an ironic twist that, frankly, pulled some of the energy out of the day.

On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again,
They’re coming to America.

Yes, thousands flock to our country on boats and planes, but many also reach our borders for their dreams on foot.  The Mexican border holds thousands in detention at present, and not just in waiting for legal processing for possible admission to the U.S., but in separation from children, spouses, and in cell-like detention for indeterminate periods of time.  Those realities don’t quite match the drama and grandeur of Diamond’s song.  I guess things have changed.

Home
Don’t it seem so far away
Oh, we’re traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm

Immigrants coming to America today find themselves in the eye of the storm of a different sort.  The pride of Americans embracing their role as the “melting pot” of the world has faded these days, replaced by a storm of blame, suspicion, racism, and even hatred.  It has not helped to have a political leader who has fanned the flames of those reactions and re-shaped the notion of immigration from a beautiful dream to a horrible nightmare.

Home
To a new and a shiny place
Make our bed and we’ll say our grace
Freedom’s light burning warm
Freedom’s light burning warm

And suddenly it makes a difference to whom you are praying for your suppertime grace.  Some in this land of all faiths now want to know the nature of one’s spirituality so that interpretations can be made and aspersions cast, often in the densest of understanding.  Freedom’s light burning warm becomes ever cooler to the touch.

Everywhere around the world
They’re coming to America
Ev’ry time that flag’s unfurled
They’re coming to America

It’s true that the American dream resonates everywhere in the world, because we have exhibited some of the visions to which all human beings aspire: freedom, choice, participation, pursuit of happiness.  In recent times, though, it would appear as if we vastly preferred those coming from Norway.  Something about looking like more of us than those in detention on the border.

Got a dream to take them there
They’re coming to America
Got a dream they’ve come to share
They’re coming to America

The dreams driving today’s immigrant populations are no different than those of generations before.  They come for opportunity.  They come to escape persecution.  They come for freedom of thought and expression.  In years past, some even came because they perceived opportunities to lie, cheat, steal and break the law with impunity.  But the U.S. figured that the good that came through our doors far outweighed the inevitable bad that is a part of our human reality.

My country ’tis of thee (today)
Sweet land of liberty (today)
Of thee I sing (today)
Of thee I sing
Today, Today, Today
Today, today, today……

Today, we celebrate our country as we have every year on July 4.  There is much in which we take pride, and rightfully so.  Our stories are mythic and powerful and full of the promise of what our future can be.  I had a joyous day with family.

Or at least until I shed a tear upon hearing Neil Diamond sing about coming to America today….

Dependence Day

I guess I’m in the mood for musing about national holidays.  I had some nagging thoughts about Memorial Day this year, and now with the passing of July 4 I find myself reflecting about Independence Day and it meanings.  I just can’t seem to simply enjoy a national celebration, some time off, fireworks and burgers on the grill like I used to.

Actually, I love the Fourth of July even more than Memorial Day.  It marks the very center of summer, a time when those of us in the far northern states can finally step outside without a jacket and long pants and be reasonable assured that frostbite is not a risk.  Like most, I love the notion of freedoms and independence, those twin icons of the United States.  I love the stories which chronicle this country’s birth as a new nation.  But increasingly, I also long for acknowledgement that alongside our national day of celebration of independence, we might do well to establish one that we might call Dependence Day.

I don’t want to throw cold water on a beloved national holiday.  But I also don’t feel right in overlooking how tremendously dependent this nation has been over its history.  Our history might be more truly a celebration of dependence than of single-handed success.

Of course, our earliest settlers might never have even had the opportunity to dream of an independent state had it not been for the assistance of Native American populations, who often helped the transplanted Europeans to survive the new climate and landscape. Even in winning the war of independence itself, the U.S. would perhaps never have prevailed in its efforts without the enormous assistance from countries like France, Spain and The Netherlands.

We proudly describe our nation as a “melting pot” of peoples from the widest range of cultures and geographies, in essence building upon the rich customs and heritage of the entire world in our DNA.  We cherish traditions in the very fabric of our lives which are almost entirely imported from somewhere else.  Oil, that lifeblood of our industrial, military and technology development, has been heavily supplied by other nations.  Foreign trade linkages have long been an essential glue to our economy and our security.  And it turns out that no matter how independent we may feel, the health of the earth’s environment is impacted by all nations, including ours.  And while on the topic of health, we can agree that following the horrifying outbreak of the ebola virus in the past year, we are clearly dependent upon the practices and assistance of other nations when protecting our population.

We have waged war very infrequently (if ever?) by ourselves; the U.S. waged war against its own Indigenous people over the past two centuries, and the war against The Philippines was undertaken alone.  But otherwise, the scores of military actions by the U.S. in its history have been fought with the help of others.  Even our own Civil War included efforts by France, Germany, Hungary and the U.K.  It’s not surprising that nations would not like to go to war alone, both from economic and emotional perspectives.

It turns out that we need lots of help.  Arctic ice reflects sunlight and influences ocean currents to help protect the atmosphere and limit severe weather.  We import more than $2 trillion worth of goods each year from countries around the world. The earth receives more than 20% of its oxygen from The Amazon rain forest.  Of major dependence is our love affair with coffee: Hawaii is the only state which can grow it commercially, and is not even close in supplying our addiction.

I understand the genesis of Independence Day and its meaning to us; I know its importance to me and my life journey, and I am grateful for it each and every day.  I also understand that no one makes the journey entirely alone.  While we celebrate and give thanks for independence, we do so with a knowing nod of gratitude to those outside the U.S. who helped to make it possible….