Racism and Ethnic Discrimination

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RACISM AND ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION
IN NICARAGUA

Myrna Cunningham Kain
With the collaboration of:
Ariel Jacobson, Sofía Manzanares, Eileen Mairena, Eilen Gómez, Jefferson Sinclair Bush November 2006

Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomy and Development

Racism and Ethnic Discrimination in Nicaragua

November 2006

Contents
1.
2.

Introduction
Structure of the study
2.1 Scope and methodology

4
7
7

3.

Racism and individual and collective human rights
3.1 A note on cultural and ethnic identity

9
11

4.

Racism: colonial inheritance
4.1 Nicaragua: multiethnic and pluricultural state
4.2 The historic roots of differences, discrimination, and racism 4.2.1
Spanish Conquest and its repercussions in Indigenous
cultures of the Pacific, Central and North
4.2.2
English colonization in the Caribbean Coast region
4.2.3
The Liberal policy in the Caribbean Coast: internal colonization 4.2.4
Afro-descendent communities in Nicaragua
4.2.5
Colonization through development models on Indigenous land
4.2.6
The autonomy process in the Caribbean Coast
4.2.6.1 Development of a normative juridical framework
4.2.6.2 Advances in the establishment of public policies and structural transformations of the State
4.2.6.3 Construction of intercultural citizenship
4.2.7
The agricultural frontier: a new form of internal colonization 4.2.8
Current expressions of external colonization

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5

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The Current Situation: Manifestations of ethnic discrimination against Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendent communities in Nicaragua
34
5.1 Socio demographic situation of Indigenous Peoples & Afro-descendent communities 34 5.2 Expressions of racism in Nicaraguan society
35
5.3 Manifestations of ethnic discrimination in the cultural sphere 36
5.3.1
Ethnic devaluation and low self-esteem
36
5.3.2
Invisibility in daily public life
39
5.3.3
Ethno-linguistic hierarchy and interethnic conflict
40
5.3.4
Prejudices based on “awareness of color”
41
5.3.5
Discrimination against use of the mother tongue
42
5.3.6
Devaluation of local knowledge
43
5.3.7
Reproduction of racism in artistic production
43
5.4 Manifestations of ethnic discrimination in the social sphere 43
5.4.1
Lack of socio-demographic information
44
5.4.2
Social exclusion
45
5.4.3
Discrimination in health care
45
5.4.4
Discrimination in churches
46
5.4.5
Discrimination in education
47
5.4.6
Discrimination in processes promoted by international cooperation agencies and development aid
48
5.4.7
Discrimination through the media
48

2 of 104

Racism and Ethnic Discrimination in Nicaragua

November 2006

5.4.8
The impact of racism on gender relations
5.4.9
Migration and racism
5.4.10 Advance of the agricultural frontier
5.5 Manifestations of ethnic discrimination in the economic sphere 5.5.1
Racism and poverty
5.5.2
Inequitable budgetary distribution
5.5.3
Lack of access to credit
5.5.4
Discriminatory labor policies
5.5.5
Growing threats to the natural and collective patrimony
5.5.6
Imposition of a development model
5.5.7
Free-market economies
5.6 Manifestations of ethnic discrimination in the juridical-legal sphere 5.6.1
Recognition and exercise of human rights
5.6.2
Limitations on the exercise of autonomy and self-government
5.6.3
Limitations on access to justice
5.6.4
Racial profiling and ethnic stereotypes
5.7 Manifestations of ethnic discrimination in the political sphere 5.7.1
Unequal relations with the State
5.7.2
Lack of access to State posts
5.7.3
Limited political participation

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6

Demands of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendents

70

7

Evaluation of actions adopted by the State and other actors to combat racism in Nicaragua 7.1 Institutionalization of...
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