President Daniel Ortega and his wife - the vice-president - Rosario Murillo have ruled the country in an increasingly dictatorial way for many years. The broad protest movement in 2018 was then put down with brutal violence, with hundreds of political prisoners, around 400 murders and 100,000 Nicaraguans in exile in Costa Rica alone. Among other things, the human rights centre CENIDH was banned and the Colectivo was also threatened. Since this year, a new law defines all members of organisations with support from abroad as "foreign agents" and they have to give monthly accounts down to the smallest detail. They are also not allowed to be elected. And with elections coming up in October, the situation is getting worse by the week with bans on parties, arbitrary arrests and more.
Zoraida Tórrez, a health worker in the Colectivo, writes: "We continue to find ourselves in the same conditions without legal documents, many trips to the capital to the relevant government office, they don't receive us, don't give us our documents, impose fines, "come back tomorrow", we are exhausted and don't go there anymore, and we are aware of the risk and danger we face. We continue with the threat and the uncertainty that they will act against us as they do against other organisations."
The Colectivo still comes together regularly for community meetings with the women in 14 villages. These organised themselves many years ago with support and advice from the Colectivo and each built a small house where they can meet. There are still plenty of topics, e.g. water supply. Currently, the Colectivo is informing these communities about the Covid pandemic with theatre performances, advising on prevention measures and handing out kits with masks, soap, chlorine and towels. Meetings with the children's groups also continue, and the small libraries for children and young people (in the women's shelters) remain open - a very important space for them, given the current situation.
In addition, the weekly gynaecological consultations continue as usual, as well as the legal consultations and the accompaniment and support of victims of violence.
Spontaneous theatre is organised once a month, alternating between face-to-face and online events, where oppressive situations are reflected on in a playful way each time.
Larger activities like public forums, however, have been suspended because of the pandemic. But the campaigns continue, of course, via their own radio station and in the social networks. And now in May, the Colectivo is participating in several international online forums on women's health, sexual and reproductive rights and the defence of human rights.
With great personal courage, the women of the Colectivo simply continue their work, as far as the pandemic allows, standing by their responsibility and not leaving the women and children in the communities to their own devices - despite or even because of the threatening political situation.
Currently, there is a nice opportunity to learn about the work of the Colectivo via YouTube. Bea Huber is an actress, active in theatre and video, and has been working with the Colectivo for 25 years. She writes: "Last year we made a video about the creative methods of the Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa. Now we have subtitled it in German. Thank you Beate for the translation. In poetic form, the video captures the changes that come about through the use of creative participatory methods from a feminist perspective. 25 different voices weave a story of resistance and create proposals in a context of oppression." Please feel free to share it. Here is the link: ¿Quién te cantará una canción de cuna? (Who will sing you a lullaby?)
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