Nicaragua is a country made up of 7 million inhabitants, 52% are women and 70% of the population is under 30 years of age. Its capital is Managua, a city that is home to 3 million people. The country is located in Central America and it borders Costa Rica in the south and Honduras in the north. It is formed by fifteen departments (which in turn are organized into four regions; North, West, Pacific and South) and two autonomous regions on the Caribbean Coast that have their own decentralized system of government.
In the political context of Nicaragua, there are two key moments, one of them was the Sandinista Revolution in the 1970s and 80s, and the second was the wave of April 2018 protests. The Sandinista Revolution represented a civic struggle against a dynasty that had absolute control of the country for over 30 years. Starting from a process of local, territorial and national organization, the dynasty was overthrown. In the 90s, the country began its process of democratic transition and development. However, in April 2018, another civic insurrection arose outraged by inequalities and abuses of power, which has resulted in a deep political and economic crisis and human rights violations in the country, which to date remain in impunity.
People in Need in Nicaragua: 2015-2022
Since the 2015, People in Need (PIN) has begun to strengthen the civil society in Nicaragua, collaborating with different organized groups from social movements and community initiatives to non-governmental organizations with a national reach. The common objective is the promotion and defense of human rights in Nicaragua, especially of the groups that are most at risk and vulnerable.
Until this day, PIN has developed initiatives together with more than 25 civil society organizations, including collaborations with independent journalists, media and universities.
Throughout this strategy, PIN has contributed to defend civil and political rights of the Nicaraguan citizens seeking to organize, mobilize and express themselves freely. PIN has been committed to defend the rights of women and youth.
In order to reach these objectives, the PIN program in Nicaragua prioritizes actions and processes to strengthen civil society, provide psychosocial support for activists and organizations at risk, and advocate and build awareness. The interventions are national in scope, although the priority is local-community work, achieving an increasingly solid presence in the north, pacific and west of the country.
Furthermore, the Nicaraguan Program holds film festivals: documentary film screening aimed at promoting reflections and debates on the human rights situation in the world. These festivals are inspired by the One World Film Festival organized annually by People in Need. The coordination teams of both festivals, both in the Czech Republic and Nicaragua, collaborate and work together to bring these activities to the local level.
1. Strengthening of the civil society in Nicaragua
Objective: To contribute to the development of the civil society organizations in the key areas for their positioning and advocacy in favor of the human rights recognition.
Who we support: Human rights organizations and activists defending human rights.
How we support them:
- International advocacy:
Based on the common agenda of defense and promotion of human rights, the Program in Nicaragua fosters advocacy actions on international level. In this sense, agendas of international advocacy have been organized within the Program together with 10 Nicaraguan activists.
- Direct support through micro-projects:
A call for application for the financing and support of microprojects is opened each semester. Our objective is to support grassroots organizations located in different areas of Nicaragua, prioritizing feminists’ groups and organizations that represent LGBTIQ + people.
Some axes that have been worked on through these micro-grants are: construction of historical memory, psychosocial support for victims of human rights violations, promotion of the rights of women and the LGBTIQ + population, training in human rights and social leadership and reporting of human rights violations.
- Capacity building and training cycles:
We provided a series of trainings aimed at development and strengthening of the capacities of the beneficiary organizations and of the activists defending human rights; the training areas are identified based on the needs that are primary for the organizations in order to progress with the work they do.
Some of the topics that were covered in the capacity buildings are: non-violent struggle and resistance, podcasts making, development of communication products and content generation for social media.
2. Psychosocial support to human rights defenders:
To provide psychological support to the Nicaraguan human rights defenders residing in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica, that were victims of violence, torture and other human rights violations as a result of the repression after the socio-political crisis that emerged in April 2018.
- Whom we support:
Nicaraguan human rights defenders that were victims of violence, torture and other human rights violations.
- How we support:
o Network for Psychosocial Support
We have implemented capacity building processes for psychology professionals in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in collaboration with the Spanish organization Psychology without borders. So far, around 60 professionals have been part of this process.
The objective of these processes is to strengthen the abilities of the participating professionals, as well as to seek their specialization in psychosocial care focused on trauma and torture. Several trainings enabled to establish a work team of psychologists in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which was in charge of developing sessions of psychosocial support provided by our organization.
o Psychosocial support:
Since 2019, throughout a specialized team of psychologists, PIN has provided psychosocial attention to more than 250 human rights activists residing in Nicaragua or that find themselves exiled in Costa Rica. The sessions were developed under two modalities: group and individual sessions.
During these processes, multiple affectations that derived from the aftermath of the Nicaraguan socio-political crisis which has worsened since 2018 are addressed. Among the main affectations identified are anxiety, insomnia, body aches, post-traumatic stress and grief, among others.
The profile of the people supported is very diverse, including students, professionals, farmers, community and organization leaders, former political prisoners, among others.
3. Awareness Raising and Advocacy through communication:
Engage in awareness rising and advocacy activities through the publication of civil society initiatives and proposals in favor of those who promote defense of human rights, justice and democracy in Nicaragua via social media and other communication platforms.
- Whom we support:
Human rights organizations and activists defending human rights.
- How we support:
o Denouncing human rights violations:
Through publications on the social media, PIN informs and denounces the human rights situation in Nicaragua. It also makes visible initiatives in favor of justice and democracy, reports on the closure of spaces for civil society participation, and generates content showing the reality experienced by human rights defenders in Nicaragua.
o Awareness raising campaign on the importance of mental health care for human rights defenders: #NicaraguaResiliente.
Social media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care for human rights defenders in Nicaragua, who have often been victims of abuse, torture, trauma and other mistreatment. Additionally, basic tools and techniques are provided to treat, in the first instance, the main consequences that people suffer from.
o Strategic alliances with journalists and the media
In order to contribute to the visibility of the situation in Nicaragua, People in Need counts with strategic partnerships with journalists and media that publish opinions and articles based on investigation in order to counteract the censorship and co-optation of the media in the country.
o Film festivals
Four film festivals have been held in Nicaragua, all of which have attracted the participation of thousands of people interested in debating the human rights situation in the world and in Nicaragua. The documentaries are shown in movie theaters, community centers, schools and universities, followed by debates with experts. Over a period of two weeks, these venues become spaces for meeting and reflection.
1. Micro-grant program for local organizations in Nicaragua
Through PIN's micro-grant program, between 8 and 10 initiatives of local organizations that have a direct impact on their communities are supported each year.
2. Psychosocial support program
Through group or individual sessions, we have been able to provide psychosocial care to approximately 400 Nicaraguan human rights defenders who have been victims of repression, abuse, torture and another mistreatment. The assistance has been extended to human rights defenders in exile in Costa Rica.
3. Communication campaign #Exilios2018
We have worked on the production and dissemination of a series of short testimonies about the life of Nicaraguan human rights defenders in exile in Costa Rica. The adversities and struggles they have had to go through in a foreign country to continue their activism in favor of justice and democracy in Nicaragua are made visible.
Psychosocial support to human rights defenders
Who we support: Nicaraguan human rights defenders that were victims of violence, torture and other human rights violations.