Could you give a short introduction about yourself?
I have had the honor of serving my country as Ambassador of Nicaragua to the Kingdom of Belgium and to the European Union since 2010. I previously worked in social cohesion and development programs. During the Sandinista Revolution I was part of the Literacy Campaign in 1980 that took down illiteracy from 59% to 13% in Nicaragua. In the 90s I worked as Project Director of the Augusto C. Sandino Foundation for rural development and education: I also thought social projects management at the university.
As an ambassador of Nicaragua based in Brussels, you have a broad view about the developments all over the world. What is your first opinion about Europe and the European Union?
The European Union is facing important challenges, among them Brexit, migrations and Climate Change to mention just a few. This requires compromise and will to respond to the interest of the European people with concrete and forwarding looking solutions. However, as a diplomat of a foreign country my duty is to observe and learn.
The European Union is going through a very difficult crisis, possibly the larger from the moment it was born. Recent examples are Brexit and the Catalonian independency referendum. We are seeing an increasing gap between the citizens and politics. Do you see similar trends in Central-America?
We are in the process of consolidation of our democracy and, like the European Union, consider that together we are stronger. Nicaragua is fully committed to regional integration. We are also committed in giving our people a voice in politics. I can provide with some concrete examples. We can proudly sustain that voting turn-out is one of the highest in the Americas. People participate directly in the policy making process through consultations at the national and local level. Women take up 50 percent of leading post in the public service, thanks to a recently approved law. So we can say that in the case of Nicaragua, people are politically active.
A lot of people in Brussels are saying ‘we need more Europe’. What are your thoughts about that and in which way it could be effective and in which way Europe would be more attractive in the eyes of (young) citizens?
The idea of Europe, born after two World Wars, has given the continent unprecedented political stability and economic growth. I believe the EU has taken some steps in the good direction, particularly toward the younger generation by establishing programs for research and development and mobility. Making access and information more readily available would be a further step in the good direction.
Are there a lot of young people in Nicaragua who would like to travel to, to move or to work in Europe?
Nicaraguans are no different from young people from all corners of the globe that like to travel and get to know about different cultures. We have an increasing middle class that is able to travel to Europe on holidays, just as Europeans visit our country throughout the year. We also have students that come over every year to study masters, doctoral programs and research. The majority return to Nicaragua after their programs are finished to work.
A lot of young Europeans are nowadays travelling to Nicaragua and other countries in Central- and South-America. There are a lot of differences between Nicaragua and Europe, I think it is interesting that they are sharing different thoughts about their own cultural and political developments. What do you think they can learn from each other for the future?
We have three twinning between Nicaragua and Belgium; Mol and Santo Tomas, Nueva Guinea and Sint Truident and Ciudad Dario and Lommel. All of them have been active for more than 30 years. This means that about 3 generations have passed since the establishment of this projects this is only possible with the renewal of the commitment of young people that take the stand of their grandparents and parents. In my exchanges with them they always remind me the positive impact the visit to Nicaragua has had in their lives.
Last questions: your advice to the young Europeans and Nicaraguans?
Don’t give up your dreams!