Separatist group declares independence from Nicaragua

April 17, 2009

A movement by indigenous territories to secede from Nicaragua needs to be taken seriously by the central government to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control, according to indigenous leaders.

Brooklyn Rivera, head of the YATAMA Miskito group, told The Nica Times Wednesday the fate of the separatist movement in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) will depend, in part, on how the central government responds to the situation. He said many of the indigenous ex-combatants are “very unsatisfied” with the Sandinista government and its unmet promises.

“If the government takes the situation seriously and addresses the demands of the people, it could control the situation,” Rivera said. If not, he warned, the movement could gain momentum.

The indigenous Council of Elders, made up of 250 mostly YATAMA members, declared independence from Nicaragua April 19 following a two-day meeting to pick new council leaders. The group announced the formation of its own Indigenous Army of the Moskitia and the creation of its own currency and national symbols. The group also ordered the cancelation of next year´s elections in the RAAN, and ordered the Regional Council to hand over control of all government apparatuses, including tax collection.

Renaldo Francis, governor of the RAAN´s Regional Council, told The Nica Times yesterday the regional government doesn´t recognize the separatists´ claims or demands. He dismissed the Council of Elders as “a small group of old men who are being manipulated.”

Rivera, however, said it would be a mistake to take the situation lightly.

As of press time, the central government had not commented on the situation. President Daniel Ortega is reportedly in Cuba for the second time this month.

Read the May 1 print or digital edition of The Nica Times for more on this story.

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