Global Citizen Diplomacy of 21st Century — one individual, one city at a time
The New Haven/León Sister City Project is a progressive, binational, grassroots organization that fosters a partnership between the communities of Greater New Haven, Connecticut and León, Nicaragua. Our mission is to promote social justice. We work to form fair and respectful relationships between the people of our two cities. Through delegations and other exchanges, we strive to understand and celebrate our respective cultures. In León, we engage in sustainable economic, human, and community development projects. In New Haven, we educate our neighbors about Nicaragua and about local and global effects of policies of the U.S. government and international economic institutions.
In 1979, the people of Nicaragua, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew the corrupt Somoza dictatorship. The social justice revolution that followed, in which Nicaragua put education, health, economic empowerment, and participatory democracy at the top of its agenda, provided a living example of a society that advocated for the poor, the majority of the Nicaraguan population.
Threatened by a Central American nation that placed the interests of its people above the interests of global capitalism, the Reagan administration mined Nicaragua's harbors, ordered a trade embargo, and organized and funded the Contras, the counter-revolutionaries who conducted a brutal war to defeat the revolution.
The New Haven/León Sister City Project formed in 1984. Inspired by the Nicaraguan revolution and appalled by the U.S. covert war against Nicaragua, we sought to implement an alternative foreign policy between the people of New Haven and the people of León, based on equality, respect, and mutual understanding.
In the 1990 elections, UNO, a U.S. supported and funded coalition of Nicaraguan political parties, defeated the Sandinistas. Under UNO the tremendous gains in health, education, and participatory democracy were soon reversed. Burdened by crushing international debt, natural disasters, including Hurricane Mitch and a prolonged drought, and governmental corruption, Nicaragua is once again the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
After the defeat of the Sandinistas, many U.S.-Nicaragua sister city organizations struggled to continue, and some disbanded. However, the New Haven/León Sister City Project has been committed to the people of León no matter who has held power, and works with whomever shares our values and goals. We continue to work to improve mutual understanding through projects designed to contribute to sustainable economic, community, and human development.
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