Monday, March 1, 2010

Interviews: Si, Mujer and León!

On my third day in Nicaragua I had two interviews set up. The first was with Dr. Merita at “Si, Mujer” (Yes, Woman) who was the in house spokesperson/sociologist who maintained the library of information for the women's clinic and the second was with Deputy Xochitl Ocampo of the FSLN .

My Aunt Alina had a contact with a Doctor at Si, Mujer and so she passed my name and the purpose of my project along to her. Then the Doctor gave my name to Dr. Merita who is the clinic's official spokesperson. I interviewed Dr. Merita for half an hour before I had to leave for my interview with Deputy Ocampo (which we ended up being late to) but I feel as though my interview with Dr. Merita was the most important one I received in my entire time in Nicaragua. She explained that since the election of Violeta Chamorro there has not been an emphasis of gender in the politics of the country and that there has been no subsequent difference in all the administrations since. “Numbers don't mean anything when it comes to women's rights in this country” she explained to me. Not only did she feel that having quotas for female participation in elected bodies or political parties was misleading, she felt it has failed to integrate the concerns of women into the politics of Nicaragua. Instead, she pointed out the plurality of women's cooperatives and organizations that are doing the work that the government is not funding or failing to begin. She was an amazing woman and sadly I did not get any pictures of her.

"For the sovereignty of my body, decriminalize abortion!"

To interview Deputy Ocampo we met her at the National Assembly by Lake Managua. This was one of the most terrifying experiences in my life because I was at a disadvantage in the interview. Not only was she going to tell me the party line and only the good that her party is doing, but I was in her office, in the National Assembly where all of the parties do their dirty work. I stumbled during the interview because of my Spanish skills but I did manage to get her to keep talking. Dr. Wilson warned me that people may try to cut the interviews short or be unresponsive with questions and to be prepared for this. While I was not prepared I did manage to keep thinking of questions for her so as to not let her off the hook so easily. The interview lasted 15 minutes and then she allowed me to take a picture with her.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon sightseeing in Managua as it would be our last full day in the capital. We headed over to Lake Tiscapa where on top of the hill there the former Presidential palace stood but was toppled by an earthquake. Now there is a mini museum of the Revolution on top of the hill with a large black outline of Augusto Sandino that now looks down on Managua and other war relics. There is a tank that the FSLN used in it's liberation of León on display on the hill above Tiscapa. The tank was named after an FSLN fighter named “Aracely” who was murdered by the National Guard and so the FSLN stole this tank from the Guard and named it in her honor.

Afterward we left for León where my family originated from. It filled me with such a sense of belonging and pride to see a sign as we entered León that said: “Welcome to León, the first Capital of the Revolution” because León was the first city to be liberated by the FSLN and is also one of the three major cities in the country.

This will not compare to seeing pictures of my two uncles Roberto and Jorge at my Aunt Santos' home. They were murdered by the National Guard for suspicion of being possible Sandinistas. They were murdered right in front of some family members and were shot to death within hearing distance from their grandmother, who raised them. My mother says that she wanted to name my brother and me after them. While she may not have been able to do that, I will try my best to make sure that their deaths were not in vain and I will do all I can to honor their memory.

I will be dedicating my project to them.