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Echoes of Silence Brigades

Page history last edited by Paul Baker 10 years, 5 months ago




One Planet. One People. Peace. Justice. Beauty.

Workers, not Stars (Victor Jara)






Work on Projects to develop Food Sustainability and Eradicate Malaria with


JULY 2010




Fight global warming and disease working on grassroots organic food and eco-drainage projects; sing with legendary Nicaraguan musicians under the stars; share radio shows with children living on Managua’s city dump; learn to dance the Zapateado; mock imperialism with la Gigantona (Giant Lady).   Live in a family community, sharing its daily life and working locally.  Travel to Sandino's legendary North Country: learn from his grandson about the model eco-community he founded; meet fair trade coops; join peasant farmers in pioneering water conservation and agro-forestry projects. Spanish helpful, but not necessary. 


Echoes of Silence brigades live with ex-guerrillera Fátima Hernández and her British husband, Paul Baker Hernández, in a marginalized neighborhod of Managua. As a teenager, Fátima fought the Somoza dictatorship, then volunteered with the Revolution’s magnificent Literacy Crusade. She has worked untiringly on grassroots health and education projects for over 30 years now, usually for no pay. She was recently given a special "Award for Distinguished Service" by the Nicaraguan National Community Movement. The NCM itself received the 2009 UNESCO Population prize for its community organizing work, especially in education and human rights .

  Paul, songwriter, author and artist, formerly Nicaragua Network (US) and Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (UK) representative/delegation worker, is now Echoes of Silence coordinator. Playing his legendary eco-guitar, crafted from recycled garbage, he works with and celebrates similarly creative practical responses to the current eco/economic crisis to help build a new, beautiful and sustainable world, from water collection/reforestation to mosquito-free wash tubs. He worked in Chile with Joan Jara, widow of the great Víctor Jara, lived with Salvadorans fighting off death squads even in Hollywood, and sang for Britain’s largest-ever gathering of 300,001 (the ‘1’ was the Pope). He’s appeared with Inti Illimani, Rita Moreno, Jackson Browne and Martin Sheen. In Nicaragua, he specializes in Victor Jara’s inspiring songs, and he frequently joins the Urrutias, Carlos Mejia Godoy and Salvador Cardenal of Duo Guardabarranco. Paul has two published books and various CDs. His songs include: ‘I Thought I Heard Sweet Víctor, Singing .. ‘, ‘Ode to Starbucks’, and ‘That S*****g Cellphone!’  He tours USA and Europe every year.

    Income supports Echoes of Silence projects and Fátima and Paul’s work. The global financial crisis, sired by the North, has drastic effects in Nicaragua, among other things killing off Fátima's tiny stipend and cutting project income by 1/3.


Example Only:  Eco-Cultural Brigade and Celebration of Sandino for 30th Anniversary of Sandinista Revolution: July 2009


14        Evening:  Arrive Nicaragua. Transport to primary site of brigade, Barrio La Primavera.

15.       am:  Getting to know one another and orientation

            pm:  Alternative tour of Managua, ending up at the Sandino monument overlooking the city

            eve: Settling into home stay; conversation; live music, poetry etc interchange

16        am:  1st eco-pila/patio garden work session in barrio inc. brief explanation of their value in combatting mosquitoes and disease, and preventing water contamination      

            pm:  2nd work session

            eve: Conversation with leading figures in cultural movement about the role of music and the arts in revolution, and particularly now in environmental awareness and action; open cultural session, including members of Nicarock, an eco-rock group

17        am:  3rd. work session

            pm:  4th work session

            eve: Conversation and live music with Phillip Montalban, Nicaragua's foremost reggae artist. From the Atlantic Coast, Phillip shares his insights and experience from Nicaragua's 'other side'.

18.       am:      Presentation by host 'mother', Fatima, including her days in the mountains as a teenage Sandinista guerrilla, as a member of the 1980s Literacy Crusade and coffee-picking brigades, and of her continuing work with health and education in the barrio.

            pm:      Presentation of the work of the Sandino Foundation by Sandino's nephew and his wife; with special focus on the cooperative land-based community Sandino founded in Wiwili, Northern Nicaragua. As his vision for the proper ordering of society, it has increasing relevance in today's warming world.

            eve:      Painting session to produce a brigade/barrio banner for tomorrow's celebration

19.       am/pm: Participation in 30th anniversary of the Revolution celebrations

            eve:      Special celebratory event in barrio

20.       am:      Presentation of Fatima's work with the Spanish NGO, INTERVIDA: barrop health post and education, music, art, dance.

pm:      Work session 5.

            eve:      Traditional dance class


21.       am:      Visit to La Chureca, Managua’s city dump, to meet with children who live actually on the garbage, and to particpate in making a radio program with them. La Chureca is the ghastly endpoint of ‘development’ as individualist competitive consumerism

pm:      Visit to CIPRES (Centre for the Investigation, Promotion and Development and of Social Rural Economies) to show the alternative vision of cooperative/ecological sustainable development. Presentation re the Zero Hunger government agricultural program, based on permacultural principles and practice. It's from this program that the eco-pilas and patio gardens the group is installing in the barrio are derived.

            eve:      Rest and reflection

22.       am:      To northern city of Esteli, cradle of the Revolution

pm/eve: Visit to the legendary Don Felipe Urrutia in Limon, just outside the city. Don Felipe (just 91) single-handedly, and entirely by ear, rescued the music of northern Nicaragua (polkas, mazurkas, waltzes). He formed a family group, 'Don Felipe y sus Cachorros (DF and his Cubs)', to make that music known more widely; and to sing in support of the Revolution.

An all acoustic session on Don Felipe’s front porch. Included will be a special celebration of water as the ultimate source of all life, and our most precious resource, plus an account of the community’s struggle to get drinking water, finally successful..


23       am/pm: All day work with FEDICAMP in one of their projects to roll back desertification and global warming through proper water use and conservation, reforestation, agro-forestry and patio gardens. FEDICAMP is a federation of campesin@ associations.

            eve:      Open cultural event at Esteli's Casa de Cultura, including meeting with muralists responsible for some of Esteli’s many revolutionary paintings dating back to the ´80s.

2.       am/pm: To northern ciity of Matagalpa, heart of coffee country. Meeting and workshop with Grupo Venancia, a woman's collective and cultural center, concentrating on women's rights and representation at all levels of society

            eve: Open music/poetry/dance with Grupo Venancia and local cultural workers

25.       am/pm: Day following the footsteps of Sandino and visiting fair trade coffee coops and communities

            eve: Open session and rest

26        am:      To Managua.

            pm:      Work session 6.

            eve:      Evening out at El Panal, a bar with live revolutionary music of today and yesterday

27.       am:      To Masaya market and volcano.

            pm:      To Granada. Meeting and workshop with rescued street children, who've learned to do mime, juggle and other arts to express themselves and to find a way forward in life.

            eve:      Packing up back in Managua

28.       am:      With Wilmor Lopez and Fito on their La Primerisima radio program about revolutionary culture.

            Late am/pm: To Leon: Meeting and participation workshop with Gioconda Arostegui, keeper of the Gigantona (Giant Lady) mocking imperialism tradition and dance.

            eve: To Managua for final celebration.

29        am:      Leave for home 





Costs per person US$75 per day

Places limited, please book early. Come for the full 14 days if you can; but don't worry if you can't. Flexibility is our middle name.

You'll be welcome no matter what.


(This covers: board, lodging, transport, 24/7 support, speakers' fees, translation, analysis, events. Airfare separate. Bring a little extra for that 2nd beer, gifts, and discretionary events.  Nicaragua is very safe and Echoes of Silence supports members at all times. However, modest insurance for personal emergencies may be worthwhile.)


Draft itinerary/bookings:  echoespaul@tortillaconsal.com



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