Nicaraguan dictatorship confiscates the site of the Condega Association of Women Builders, which functioned as a safe place where young women from the community could stay.
HAVANA TIMES – In the house that was confiscated from the Condega Association of Women Builders [Asociacion de Mujeres Constructores de Condega or AMCC], a group of women from different rural communities were living. The women came to the city in the department of Esteli seeking a safe place to live so they could study and work. However, the group was left homeless as of July 11, 2023, when officials of the Daniel Ortega’s Police and members of the Condega mayor’s office took over the building.
“The organization’s legal status was canceled in May 2022. According to the Interior Ministry, they had failed to register as “foreign agents” under the regime’s new laws, and supposedly hadn’t presented a detailed report of their accounts and their donors. Some 3,000 other NGOs have been shuttered by the Ortega regime under similar pretexts in the last few years.
Despite the NGOs loss of legal status, the house continued functioning. “Legally, according to the organization’s statutes, it was the job of the Board of Directors to decide what to do with the space in the event of any closure,” explained a member of the Association, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
At the moment it was seized, the property that measures just under 4,000 square feet contained bunks, kitchen utensils, a refrigerator and the young residents’ personal belongings.
“I lived in that house for seven years, and I can testify that many young women came through there who were in need of a place to live because their rural communities didn’t offer access to education or a job. The house became a safe space for them,” stated the Women Builder’s group member.
A year and 40 days after the Ortega regime canceled the legal status of the Women Builders’ Association, the Police confiscated the property that belonged to them. According the Association member who spoke with Confidencial, some police officials arrived on the afternoon of July 11, 2023, and broke the locks on the door.
There was no one in the building at the time, and the officials merely broke the locks and left. Given this, the Association members decided to send someone the next morning to replace the locks. However, when that person arrived at the house, they found three employees of the Condega Mayor’s office already inside.
“Up until now, the house hasn’t been turned over to anyone, but sources claim that a university center will supposedly be opened there,” a member of the group commented.
Despite the confiscation, the activist assured: “The Women Builders are going to continue, because the organization isn’t the physical walls, but the work it did, and the extensive social fabric that has been constructed during all these years. We know that the organization is in every person and every community where we worked.”
This is the second property belonging to a women’s organization in Condega that’s been confiscated. On June 20, the Police, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, seized the installations of the Asociacion Red de Mujeres de Condega para la Formacion y Desarrollo Integral [“Condega Women’s Network for Integral Training and Development”]. The building itself belonged to the Association for Recreation, Education and Youth Guidance, whose legal status was annulled in 2022.
In addition to these two Condega properties belonging to women’s organizations, NGOs in other parts of the country whose legal status was cancelled in 2022 have also had their sites confiscated. Among these are the Luisa Mercado Foundation in Masatepe; the March 8 Women’s Collective in Esquipulas; the Matagalpa Women’s Collective; and the Sor Maria Romero old age home, which received support from the Fundacion para la Dignidad Humana Nicaragüense [“Foundation for Nicaraguan Human Dignity”].
Siege began in 2018
The Women Builders organization has been functioning in Condega for 34 years. For a time, the house served as a technical school where they taught carpentry, welding, electricity, solar energy and natural construction. The school closed in 2013, after which the house was used as a place to receive young women from the rural communities.
Following the 2018 protests, the Association, like other women’s organizations, began to suffer from a police siege. Nonetheless, they continued their work.
“We have videos of ourselves inside the house – because we had cameras – where you can see the Police carrying off the entire system of security cameras we had. They pressured us to make us leave, raising the price of utilities – the water bill rose until it was nearly 3,000 cordobas, [around US $82]” the activist said.