Update to NIC10702 of 1 May 1992 on a group known as Misurasata or Kisan and on whether there has been any reported mistreatment of members of this organization [NIC24080.E]

The following information was provided in 3 June 1996 and 21 June 1996 telephone interviews with the executive director of the South and Meso-America Indigenous Information Centre (SAIIC), who is also an ethnic Miskito from the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua and familiar with the political issues of the region.

In 1985 the Atlantic coast gained autonomy and from 1985 to 1990 underwent a process of renegotiation, repatriation and general amnesty for the indigenous peoples of the Región Autónoma Atlántica Norte (RAAN) and the Región Autónoma Atlántica Sur (RAAS). Misurasata was previously known as Misura and later became known as the Fuerzas Armadas Unidas de la Costa Atlántica Nicaragua (FAUCAN). A breakaway group under the direction of Steadman Fagoth was known as Kisan. According to the source, the indigenous political groups Misurasata and Kisan, which had armed factions, were demobilized and transformed into an indigenous political party called Yatama in 1992. Yatama means "descendants of the motherland/mother earth" and is a political party consisting of members from the Sumu, Miskitu [plural] and Rama indigenous groups.

Yatama participated in the 1992 elections and won 24 out of 45 seats in the regional congress of the RAAN and 19 seats in the RAAS. In the 1994 elections, Yatama won only 7 seats in the RAAN congress, with the remaining seats in congress (38) equally divided between the Sandinistas (19) and the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC, Constitutionalist Liberal Party) (19). Neither party could form the RAAN government without the support of Yatama votes to pass legislation. Because of the unusual election results, Yatama formed a coalition government with the Sandinistas, and was able to demand the concession of placing a party member of Yatama as the governor of RAAN, while the regional coordinator (coordinador regional) was a Sandinista.

In May 1996, the Sandinistas broke off negotiations with Yatama, allied themselves with the PLC, and are in the process of trying to remove the Yatama governor. These actions have resulted in massive strikes by indigenous people in the region.

When questioned about the treatment of members of Yatama, source noted that there are three antagonistic factions within Yatama — Yatama Brooklyn, Yatama Independiente and Yatama Fagoth. There are internal political problems in Yatama which have resulted in isolated violent incidents, but in contrast to the situation with former members of armed groups, there has not been evidence that members and politicians of Yatama are being faced with threats.

Recent political developments include the removal of Marcos Hoppington, former governor of RAAN, as leader of Yatama. He was replaced with Steadman Fagoth after the party lost the 1994 regional elections. At present, the Yatama Brooklyn faction is trying to acquire more economic power for the region, in addition to cultural powers which have been accorded to the present autonomous government. Yatama Brooklyn has contact with some non-governmental organizations in Winnipeg, Canada which have helped them obtain funds from the World Bank and other regional international development banks. With these funds, Yatama Brooklyn is currently in the process of beginning a number of economic development initiatives for indigenous people in the region. Yatama Brooklyn has also invited Steadman Fagoth, the leader of a rival faction, Yatama Fagoth, to participate in these economic projects. An organization has been created to investigate economic alternatives and is known as the Corporación Indigena de Desarrollo S.A. (CIDESA). The PLC is against granting economic power to the indigenous peoples of the region and has cut off all discussions with Yatama.

However, the source noted that there is presently a resurgence of armed groups in Nicaragua who are operating in isolated areas of the country, including parts of the RAAN and the RAAS, complicating the regional political situation. These armed groups are comprised of factions of the traditional political parties that have refused to participate in the political process and have returned to operating as armed groups as a form of protest.

The source was aware of three such groups presently operating in Nicaragua; the re-contras, comprised of former contra guerrillas; the re-compas, comprised of former members of the Sandinista army; and one known as the rearmados or revueltos, which is comprised of former contras and Sandinistas disillusioned with the traditional political divisions. The source noted that there are indigenous members in each of the three armed groups.

These groups are presently operating along the highway from RAAN to Managua, as well as to the Rio Rama near Chontales in RAAS, and the mountain highway from Matagalpa to the Rio Wawa . The armed groups are also known to be operating around Minas Rositas and Puerto Cabezas. The armed groups live in clandestine camps in the jungle and are known to be responsible for attacks on passers-by, extorting money from local villagers and robbing transport trucks. The source was aware of reports of members wishing to leave these groups to participate in a normal civilian life who would be threatened and harassed by other group members.

Please consult the attachments for additional information on the granting of regional autonomy to the indigenous people of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and indigenous involvement in local elections and politics, as well as information on violent incidents involving indigenous people in the region.

Please consult Responses to Information Requests NIC11893 of 22 October 1992 and NIC12771 of 15 January 1993 for additional information on the resurgence of armed groups in Nicaragua and Response to Information Request NIC20252.E of 28 March 1995 which provides information on the links of the PLC to the recontras.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


South and Meso-America Indigenous Information Centre (SAIIC). 21 June 1996. Telephone interview with executive director.

_____. 3 June 1996. Telephone interview with executive director.


ACAN [Panama City, in Spanish]. 4 July 1994. "Indians Kidnap 4 U.S. Citizens on Atlantic Coast." (FBIS-LAT-94-128 5 July 1994, pp. 37-38)

Agence France Press (AFP). 25 June 1996. "Former Contras Snatch Five Hostages." (NEXIS)

_____. 5 July 1994. "Army Frees Three US Nationals Kidnapped in Nicaragua." (NEXIS)

The American Spectator. January 1993. Daniel Wattenberg. "Harvard's New Interior Minister." (NEXIS)

Barricada [Managua, in Spanish]. 13 March 1995. Carlos Garcia Castillo. "Indigenous Leaders Discuss Unity Proposals." (FBIS-LAT-95-092 12 May 1995, pp. 24-25)

_____. 4 July 1994. Noel Irias. "Americans Said Kidnapped in Port." (FBIS-LAT-94-128 5 July 1994, p. 38)

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 20 February 1992. "Reports of Violence on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast." (NEXIS)

Central America Report [Guatemala City]. 21 March 1995. Vol. 23, No. 11. "Nicaragua: Debate on Violence," pp. 4-5.

The Circle. 1 May 1994. Juan A. Avila Hernandez. "Nicaragua Claims Election Mandate For Takeover of Indigenous Zone." (The Ethnic Newswatch/NEXIS)

El Nuevo Diario [Managua, in Spanish]. 4 July 1994. "Ransom Demanded." (FBIS-LAT-94-128 5 July 1994, pp. 38-39)

The Houston Chronicle. 5 July 1994. 3 Star Edition. "Kidnappers Hold 4 American Fishermen." (NEXIS)

Inter Press Service. 10 November 1994. "Nicaragua-Human Rights: 20 Indigenous People Slain." (NEXIS)

_____. 2 March 1994. "Nicaragua: Opposing Groups to Share Regional Government." (NEXIS)

_____. 12 July 1993. Roberto Fonseca Lopez. "Nicaragua: Sumu Indians Threaten to Take Law Into Own Hands." (NEXIS)

Mesoamerica [San Pedro]. November 1995. Vol. 14, No. 11. Francisco Campbell. "Frustrating Gaps in the Autonomy Statute."

_____. October 1994. Vol. 13, No. 10. Arnold Oliver. "The Autonomy Project on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast: Part II."

_____. September 1994. Vol. 13, No. 9. Tom Bartlett and Arnold Oliver. "Autonomy on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast."

_____. March 1994. Vol. 13, No. 3. Amanda Cedar Brown-Stevens. "Elections in the Atlantic Zone."

Miami Herald. 25 April 1995. Glenn Garvin. "Lawlessness is Order of Day in Remote Village." (Central America NewsPak [Austin], 29 Apr.-12 May 1996. Vol. 11, No. 7, pp. 10-11)

Noseworthy, Kent with Tom Barry. 1990. Nicaragua: A Country Guide. Albuquerque: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center: 136-40.

Notisur— Latin America Political Affairs [Albuquerque, New Mexico]. 4 March 1994. "Nicaragua: Results From Elections for Atlantic Coast Autonomous Governments." (NEXIS)

Radio Corporacion [Managua, in Spanish] 1 March 1994. Ernesto Ugarte Calderon. "Indian Leader, Resistance Commanders on Elections." (FBIS-LAT-94-043 4 March 1994, p. 18)

Radio Sandino [Managua, in Spanish]. 4 July 1994. "Four US Citizens and One Nicaraguan Kidnapped by Indian and Creole Organization." (BBC Summary 6 July 1994/NEXIS)

_____. 4 July 1994. "Military Reports Kidnappings." (FBIS-LAT-94-128 5 July 1994, p. 38)

_____. 24 February 1994. Jose Gart. "Leaders of Indian Organization Attack FSLN Activists." (FBIS-LAT-94-039 28 Feb. 1994, p. 25)

Radio Ya [Managua, in Spanish]. 20 February 1992. "Government Representatives, Rivera View Conflict." (FBIS-LAT-92-035 21 Feb. 1992, p. 16)

Reuters. 5 July 1994. BC Cycle. Dan Trotta. "Nicaraguan Army Rescues Kidnapped Americans." (NEXIS)

_____. 28 February 1994. BC Cycle. "Sandinistas, Liberals Lead in Nicaragua Vote." (NEXIS)

_____. 18 February 1992. AM Cycle. "Policeman, Soldier Killed in Nicaragua Attack." (NEXIS)

United Press International (UPI). 4 July 1994. BC Cycle. "Nicaraguan Rebels Hold U.S. Fishermen." (NEXIS)

_____. 27 February 1994. BC Cycle. John Otis. "Nicaraguans Go to Polls in Local Elections." (NEXIS)

_____. 18 February 1992. BC Cycle. John Otis. "Indian Rebel Group Takes Control of Two Nicaragua Towns." (NEXIS)

_____. 11 January 1992. BC Cycle. John Otis. "Autonomy Means Little For Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast." (NEXIS)

The Washington Times. 10 March 1994. Final Edition. Deroy Murdock. "In Nicaragua, a Vote for the Future." (NEXIS)

_____. 25 April 1993. Final Edition. William Ratfliff. "Living Up to the Prestige." (NEXIS)