Juntos: Creating Ties

Sustainable development through meaningful partnerships.

About Nicaragua

About Rosa Grande

Located about twenty miles from the city of Siuna, Rosa Grande is a small village located in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (R.A.A.N.). Rosa Grande is also adjacent to the UNESCO Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, which is the second-largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere. The region has a long history of gold mining and timber harvesting, which has lasting environmental and social impacts, such as water contamination and unemployment.

Most citizens in Rosa Grande are subsistence farmers, and most children start working for their parents by the time they reach middle and high school. The community has a school that serves almost 150 students, a computer center with five laptops, and a library, as well as a cacao cooperative and chocolate factory. So, in spite of economic and social challenges, community leaders have worked to build partnerships with other organization to bring vital resources, services and opportunities to Rosa Grande.

A (Brief) National History

Beginning in the 16th century, Nicaragua, similar to other countries in Central and South America, was the subject of Spanish conquest. However, what is now known as the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (R.A.A.N.) largely remained isolated from Spanish influence during this period of initial European conquest. The Spanish focused their interests within the Western Pacific region of Nicaragua, while the Eastern Atlantic region came under the influence of European pirates, mainly from Britain. This influence of Great Britain continued with a formal British Protectorate in 1843, which would preserve British interests in the Mosquito Coast (along the Atlantic Ocean) until 1860 when the Treaty of Managua gave Nicaragua claim over the territory. However, even after the Treaty of Managua, the British continued to extract resources from the natural abundance of the region.

Beginning in the Somoza era (1935-1979) under the rule of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, attempts to unite the Pacific and Atlantic regions of Nicaragua were made by attracting both poor, land-seeking residents of the Pacific region and foreign investors to the Atlantic region. This era was characterized by expropriating land and natural resources from the indigenous people of the Atlantic region to people arriving from the Pacific region. This provided for a certain degree of economic control over the Atlantic region through a limited government presence.

In December of 1985 during the end of the Sandanista years (1979 – 1990), the Sandanistas enacted a National Commission for the process of defining autonomous rule in the Atlantic region. Two years later, the Autonomy Statute for the Regions of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua officially created two autonomous regions along the Atlantic coast: the North Atlantic region and the South Atlantic region. These two regions collectively made up 50% of Nicaragua’s territory and 9.5% of Nicaragua’s population. Despite the Autonomy Statue in 1987, the legal action necessary to implement the autonomy of these states was not passed until fifteen years later.

Today, Nicaragua is still heavily divided both politically and economically between the more developed Pacific region and the recently autonomous Atlantic regions.

Sources: [1] Ortega Hegg, Manuel (1997). El regimen de autonomía en Nicaragua: Contradicciones históricas y debates recientes. En: Revista Alteridades, año 7, número 14, 1997. México. [2] Asamblea Nacional de la República de Nicaragua (1987). Ley No. 28 Estatuto de Autonomía de las Regiones de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua. Gaceta No. 238. Managua. [3] Cuéllar, Nelson, and Susan Kandel. “The History of Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region.” The Campesino to Campesino Program of Siuna, Nicaragua: Context, accomplishments and challenges. Center for International Forestry Research (2007).