Contact: Bennett Kuhn (English & Spanish); Media & Communications Specialist, La Isla Foundation

In response to police violence in Chichigalpa in January, La Isla Foundation today published a joint civil society statement signed by 14 local, regional and international organizations asking for justice from the Nicaraguan government.

The declaration calls upon the government of Nicaragua to intervene in the ongoing conflict between ex-sugarcane workers who are sick from Chronic Kidney Disease of nontraditional causes (CKDnT) and their former employer Ingenio San Antonio (ISA).

The joint statement condemns the repressive police activity against protesters on January 18, 2014 and calls for the Nicaraguan government to lead an effective process of reconciliation between those protesters and ISA. The consequences of the protest included the homicide of Juan de Dios Cortés (a 48-year-old ex-worker) and the grave injury of the child Juan Ignacio Valladares Méndez (13 years old). Over 30 individuals were detained, many of them sick with CKDnT, and an unknown number of others suffered injuries at the hands of police forces.

The organizations that signed the declaration connect these repressive events to the lack of an adequate response from the government and the development of CKDnT in Chichigalpa in general. “We here are practically abandoned by the government, by the authorities, by the company, and

[the joint statement] evaluates the conditions we are experiencing,” said Daniel Valdivia, President of the Nicaraguan Association of the CKD-Affected and their Allies (ASNAAPIRC).

The signatories hope to establish a firm process for demanding solutions to CKDnT in Chichigalpa from the government and ISA, according to Angel Velasquez, representative of the Association for Communal Development with International Solidarity (ASDECOSI) of Chichigalpa and the Communal Movement of Chichigalpa. “We have to continue within this process with the backing of allied organizations… and continue pushing or even better begin a process of mass education… in prevention of the illness so that it does not continue expanding to all parts of Nicaragua.”

A recent report by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) details more than “20 years of violent and repressive actions, in the context of economic and social demands of workers and ex-workers of the Ingenio San Antonio (ISA), highlighting the protest of those affected by Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).”

Despite this history of violence, leaders of Chichigalpan social organizations remain committed to nonviolent resistance. During the January 18 protest, authorities jailed Velasquez for 16 hours; Valdivia for 48. For each man it was the first time in his life that he had been imprisoned.

Click here to download the full text of the joint civil society declaration (.pdf).

This press release is also available in Spanish, as is the declaration itself.

La Isla Foundation (LIF) is a public health and policy NGO addressing a fatal epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) among sugarcane workers in Latin America.

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