The Nicaragua Solidarity Caravan: A Roundtable Discussion with Grassroots Activists

The Nicaragua Solidarity Caravan: A Roundtable Discussion with Grassroots Activists

Academic Year:
2018 - 2019 (June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Graduate Student/Postdoc:
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
Nicaragua is currently facing the worst political crisis it has seen in decades. In April 2018, state repression of citizens protesting social security reforms unleashed a decade of accumulated grievances against the Ortega-Murillo government. Citizens from across all sectors of Nicaraguan society took to the streets to protest state violence and authoritarianism. In response, the state has killed as many as five hundred people. Thousands of citizens have been injured, hundreds have been illegally detained, and tens of thousands have fled the country for Costa Rica or the United States. A new generation of Nicaraguan activists are leading this popular movement for justice.
This project includes two class visits (Spanish) at the Residential College and one lunch table visit in which students will be able establish contact and speak with three of these activists on the historical origins of the crisis, movement actors and demands, and the current state of human rights in Nicaragua. Moreover, they will give an on campus public talk addressing these issues in regards to Nicaragua’s current context.
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
50 graduate students
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
100 undergraduate students
Additional Supporters:
Sueann Caulfield, (Associate Professor History and Residential College)
Budget Administrator:
Alana Rodriguez, (Latin American and Caribbean Studies)
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

First, this project exposes students to perspectives and accounts of the current socio-political crisis in Nicaragua through the voices and experiences of young university students like them. Thus, providing a unique opportunity to engage as citizens through the example of these Nicaraguan young activists. Second, it broadens their geographical framework of understanding conflict and social issues affecting students in other parts of the continent and fosters empathy and commitment to dialogue. For the presentations taking place in the Residential College, which will be done in Spanish and offered in the Spanish courses, students will have the opportunity to listen to presenters in their own language and without translation filters, which should underscore the relevance of studying other languages in order to access other countries realities through their own voices.

Project Achievements:

The class visits to the Residential College were extremely successful. The speakers brought images, maps and gave a thorough overview of the conflict all in Spanish. Students had previously read background material on the situation and current conditions in Nicaragua, so they were prepared to actively participate with questions. During the Spanish lunch table, the speakers sat at different tables with students and one other instructor who facilitated very fruitful conversations with students who had not been able to attend the previous talks because they were in different classes. The speakers drew connections between different peaceful resistance movements in different countries and underscored the need for the involvement of civil society in social and political change. The talks were attended by some 60 students in total and three instructors. The lunch table was attended by 20-30 students.

This project is not continuing beyond the grant period.
One graduate student from the Department of History is preparing a short article on this visit a the University of Michigan and will provide a historical comparison to previous solidarity caravans with Nicaragua that traveled across the United States in the 1980s.
Advice to your Colleagues:
It was extremely useful to provide students with materials in advance so they would be able to follow the presentation and participate in the discussion. We highly recommend this step, particularly when we refer to other countries whose histories and situations may be less familiar.