Esteli, Nicaragua


Since before the election of 1990, "The Mothers of the Heroes and Martyrs" in Esteli has been a divided organization. Depending on with whom you speak the divide is based on personalities, ideology, class, etc. The result of this schism leaves a faction of the "Mothers" marginalized, outside of the Gallery (their home base), and distant from the benefits derived from the support from Internationals which is nearly always passed through the gallery.

The Gallery, as in each city, maintains and presents the images of those in the community who fought and died in the struggle against Samoza, and the Contra war. It remembers and retells the events of the Sandanista Revolution in human terms and human loss. It has also become a center from which "projects" are initiated. One such project, located adjacent to the gallery, is the "cafetin" - a place to sit, drink a soda or eat a fruit salad. This provides a small income and employment for a few of the "Madres."

The "other" group, keeping the same name and asserting rights to the Gallery and it's activities, was located on the square in a corner room of the mayor's offices which opened out onto the square. At this location a number of the women would meet daily, most often to make artificial flowers which would be sold as center pieces or memorials to be placed at the cemeteries.

There was also soda available, but few passersby ventured in. For a brief period of time this group of "Madres" attempted to start a small store, to provide basic supplies such as toilet paper, beans, soap, etc. Over a year ago this group lost it's meeting and work area to a renovation project initiated by the mayor.


I have been working with both groups of "Madres" in Esteli, though most of my material aid has been directed to the marginalized group (see eventual essay on Impact of International Support). As of this writing I am waiting to speak with a friend who just returned from Esteli to find out the current situation and needs. As of my last letters with the "Madres," conditions were steadily deteriorating. I will be up dating this area soon.

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