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Nueva Vida Women's Sewing Co-op In Danger!

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February 9, 2008
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For those not familiar with Cooperative Maquiladora Mujeres de Nueva Vida (COMAMNUI) please visit

Dear Friends,

We urgently need your voice NOW! Someone is trying to steal our land, and we need you to write in our support!

We normally don't write this kind of emergency letter, but this time it's critical that you know now, pass the word, and respond. The volume of international response will have a strong effect. There is a sample letter below with an email address.

We're writing to you as long-time supporters of the Jubilee House Community and our project in Nicaragua, the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA) to ask you to take immediate action to help us prevent the theft of the land where we and our projects are located.

In the last few days we have been summoned to court to respond to a demand on the part of Señora Yelba Carvajal, a person well known here in Nicaragua to be involved in several fraudulent land deals. We hav8e been investigating, and have managed to find out that she is claiming in the courts that she is the legitimate owner of the property where we are located, even though we have legal title. On the basis of a typographical error in the title, Señora Carvajal is asking the court to invalidate our title and recognize her as the legitimate owner of the property. You will remember that we originally purchased our land from a cooperative in the 1990s, and she later purchased the rest of the land that the cooperative owned. It would appear that this is an open and shut case in our favor; however, as Father Miguel D'Escoto once said to us about land issues in Nicaragua, "You can have the law and justice on your side, and it's still not enough."

What does this mean?

It means that the Nueva Vida women's sewing cooperative, the Fair Trade Zone, is in danger of losing its land, building, and free trade zone status, therefore putting 50 people out of their jobs that they have worked so hard to maintain for the last nine years. It means that the fledgling Genesis spinning plant cooperative, only days away from setting its first post in the ground, is in danger of losing the land where they will build their factory, all the work they have put into their project for the last year, and the opportunity to create full-time employment for 60 people and their families. These are only
two examples of the negative impact that this would have, resulting in the closing of all of the CDCA's projects in Ciudad Sandino.

What can you do?

We are asking you to send an email to the First Lady of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, requesting that she, as a strong defender of poor women throughout this country, investigate this attempt to steal from these cooperatives that are made up in their vast majority of poor women who have worked so long and so hard to better the lives of their members. Below we have included an example of an email in Spanish and in English on which you can base your message.

If you have the time, we ask that you personalize your message as we feel it's important that she receive individual emails. (Feel free to send an email in English only if you do not speak Spanish.)

Please send emails to and sign your name and address including country.

Please copy us on the email at

Thank you for all your support,

The Jubilee House Community Inc.
Center for Development in Central America


English version of letter:

Dear Compañera Rosario:

I am writing you out of a deep concern for an injustice that is being perpetrated on a group of poor women in Ciudad Sandino. Following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, the newly formed community of Nueva Vida began to reorganize their lives and plan for the future working
in conjunction with the NGO Jubilee House Community (an International Mission invited to Nicaragua by Father Miguel D'Escoto in 1993 to work in sustainable development). One result of this grassroots organizing was the formation of several cooperatives to provide employment to the residents of Nueva Vida, principally single mothers.

Today these cooperatives include the women's sewing cooperative Cooperativa Maquiladora Mujeres de Nueva Vida (COMAMNUVI) which now operates under the trade name Fair Trade Zone /Zona de Comercio Justo as the world's only worker-owned free trade zone; the spinning plant cooperative Cooperativa de Mujeres Hilandería "Génesis"; and the agricultural cooperative Cooperativa de Productores Orgánicos y Tradicionales y Exportadores de Nicaragua (COPROEXNIC) among others.

All of these cooperatives are located in a small industrial park which provides over 100 jobs with justice, primarily to poor women.

Now all of this work is being put at risk by the efforts of Señora Yelba Carvajal, who is attempting to have title to the property (which is legally registered by the government of Nicaragua to the Jubilee House Community foundation) annulled and ownership passed to her. The information that I have received is that Señora Carvajal is well known for her unscrupulous and immoral practices in repeated attempts to deprive the poor of Nicaragua of their property rights.

As a defender of the poor and particularly poor women, I would request that you investigate this situation and use the full weight of your office to assure that justice is done.

Thank you very much.

Your name, city, state or province, country


Spanish version of letter:

Estimada Compañera Rosario:

Reciba saludos cordiales de mi parte. Me dirijo a usted con una preocupación profunda sobre una injusticia en contra de un grupo de mujeres pobres en Ciudad Sandino. Después de la devastación de Huracán Mitch, la comunidad de damnificados de Nueva Vida empezó a reorganizar sus vidas y planificar el futuro, trabajando en conjunto con la ONG Jubilee House Community (una misión internacional invitada a Nicaragua en 1993 por el Padre Miguel D'Escoto para trabajar en desarrollo sostenible). Un resultado de este proceso de organización de base fue la formación de varias cooperativas para crear puestos de empleo a favor de los residentes de Nueva Vida, principalmente madres solteras.

Hoy en día estas cooperativas incluyen la Cooperativa Maquiladora Mujeres de Nueva Vida (COMAMNUVI) la cual ahora opera bajo su nombre de comercio Fair Trade Zone /Zona de Comercio Justo como la única zona franca en el mundo en manos de los trabajadores; la Cooperativa de Mujeres Hilandería "Génesis"; y la Cooperativa de Productores Orgánicos y Tradicionales y Exportadores de Nicaragua (COPROEXNIC) entre otros. Todas estas cooperativas están ubicadas en un pequeño parque industrial que brinda empleo justo a más de 100 personas, principalmente mujeres pobres.

Ahora todo este trabajo está en riesgo debido a las esfuerzas de la Señora Yelba Carvajal, quien busca la anulación de la escritura de la propiedad, la cual está registrada con el gobierno de Nicaragua a la fundación Jubilee House Community, y pide que se le pase la propiedad a ella. La información que yo recibí es que la Señora Carvajal es conocida por sus prácticas inescrupulosas e inmorales en intentos repetidos de privar a los pobres de sus derechos a su propiedad.

Como defensora de los pobres y mujeres en particular, yo le pido a usted que investigue la situación y apoye con toda la dedicación de su posición el asegurar que se haga justicia.

Agradeciéndole su atención al presente, me despido de usted.

Your name, city, state or province, country

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