Hello from the island paradise of Ometepe! The past few days have been great, with a few surprises along the way. One of these was a surprise visit with Ligia Briones, our main contact with the UNAG, who happened to be on Ometepe at the same time as us. She is the president of the women's sector and soon to be ex-president of the UNAG chapter in the city of Esteli.
Ligia is not a tall woman, but as soon as she began to talk I felt like I was in the presence of a giant. She does not beat around the bush. Over dinner she elaborated on some of the problems facing the UNAG and the women's sector. A drought is plaguing the nation and causing a lot of damage in the already dry Northern region (where we will be spending most of our time on this trip), and she was on the island to talk to women about irrigating effectively when it's so dry.
The farmers face hardships like this all the time, and usually the UNAG is there to help them, whether or not the government will be. However, she said that lately even though the FSLN is not what it used to be and is becoming more corrupt, the leaders of the union have not been speaking up so as not to cause disturbances within the party. Listening to her talk I could see how passionate she is about her work; she is stepping down from the presidency in part because, in her words, she's "been a sandinista her whole life, but she's a producer, a campesina, first." Also with only one job to do she can focus more attention on working with the campesinas of the UNAG, organizing workshops and helping them be more autonomous in a male-dominated campo.
There's a lot more I could say about this amazing woman, but it's time to go. We'll be blogging again soon.