“I recycle to save my planet!” Reforestation and Environmental Education Project 2012
High school students from Chichigalpa carry banners through the streets as a marching band follows behind pounding drums and blaring trumpets under the blazing Chichigalpa sun. The event, which was to include presentations by the local alcaldia or mayor’s office, MINED, MARENA, INAFOR and MINSA, was sponsored by Ingenio San Antonio and Grupo Pellas as the insignias on the left of the banner imply.
Environmental officials, with the local government, display more than 70 different seeds of trees and plants that are found in protected areas around Chichigalpa. “One of the purposes of this government is to incentivize the youth, the citizens of this municipality, [to protect] our environment.” Forests are claimed for land expansion of sugarcane fields to meet market demand for ethanol and raw sugar production.
Inet Reyes, the Environmental Coordinator for Ingenio San Antonio Liquor Company educates local school children on the company’s environmental initiatives. According to ISA those include: environmental education, reforestation campaigns, recycling, biological pest/disease control, efficient use of water, “clean energy”, which includes a eucalyptus plantation for wood, efficient irrigation, and reduction of emissions.
Former sugar cane workers who have Chronic Renal Insufficiency watch as a youth spray paints a banner which reads, “Where is the environmental responsibility of ISA with so many sick with IRC (Chronic Renal Insufficiency) 4,000 dead 4,800 sick with IRC (We want the cause of IRC) GTAIRC” (Grupo de Trabajadores Afectados por IRC) (Group of Workers Affected by CRI).
MINSA, the Nicaraguan government Health Ministry was absent at the environmental fair.
René Lezama who cut sugarcane for Ingenio San Antonio 20 years sits in the shade observing the fair.
A La Isla Foundation volunteer explains the work of LIF to a local resident. LIF’s mission prioritizes coordinating the medical and scientific research necessary to establish the cause of Chronic Renal Insufficiency. While LIF has a strong presence in the outlying communities of Chichigalpa where workers are most affected, many people in the population centers of Western Nicaragua do not receive the data demonstrating the gravity of the epidemic. Community outreach initiatives and attending local events are crucial in conveying the local and international struggle to establish the causality of CRI.
School children from Chichigalpa proudly display their new “adopted trees” donated by Ingenio San Antonio as well as posters advocating condom use, another advocating “human solidarity” and a government propoganda poster. They are encouraged to plant the trees which include eucalyptus.
ISA plants and harvests 38,000 tons of eucalyptus wood per year for energy consumption.
A youth with the local environmental group Ruido Verde (Green Noise) holds a sign that reads, “No more impunity for the municipal roads.” Land immediately adjacent to municipal roads is commonly deforested and used for sugar cane production.
Ex-workers of the sugar cane industry who all have Chronic Renal Insufficiency stand in front of the newly painted banner. They also taped pictures of now deceased friends and co-workers in varying stages of CRI to the banner, which they hung directly across the square from where Ingenio San Antonio had set up its tent. This was the first public demonstration raising the issue of CRI to the public that included ex-workers and youth from Chichigalpa.