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I met Felícitas in September 1996, just before the general elections in Nicaragua. She was then candidate for Mayor of Posoltega for the Sandinista Front for National Liberation -FSLN.

Angela Ríos who was also a candidate for deputy at the National Assembly, asked me if I could facilitate a series of workshops for Felícitas´campaign team. "She is one of the three women candidates in a list of 146" said Angelita who is now a deputy. "She decided to run with another woman as her Deputy-Mayor candidate" she went on.

 

Felícitas Zeledon, Mayor of Posoltega

Fundación Movilización Social promotes women´s leadership and supports its strengthening. I did go to Posoltega for the workshops.

I was met by a group of 85 cheering women from all over Posoltega and when the two women candidates were introduced to me, the first thing Felícitas said was "We need to run a women campaign here and there is no women group from the women´s movement eager to help us on how to go about running such a campaign even though If I win, I will work toward better conditions for women".

Full days of workshops on running campaign gender-oriented and social communication. Determined women. They knew they wanted Felícitas as their Mayor and were preparing to win.

I went back to Posoltega for a brief celebration and then in early May 1998, I got a call from Felícitas because she was organising women to participate in the upcoming Congress of the FSLN. "We are worried about women´s quota system in the FSLN" she said.

This time we met in Chinandega with about 45 women discussing how to maintain and even get a higher quota system in the FSLN.

I met again Felícitas on November 5th, 6 days after the volcano slide wiped out entire communities in Posoltega, almost 2,000 people dead at that time.

This time, she said "I felt pain and impotence to see how the people died second by second. My biggest sadness was that I was alone trying to save people by putting them in safe places and the Government did not believe me".

Felícitas Zeledón, 52 years old, teacher at primary schools, has a BA on Spanish. "My people is in pain, is hurting and we have been only in God´s hand together with the local priest Benjamín Villarreal" she said.

"The "teacher" and Padre Mincho are the only ones helping us, we do not know anybody from the Government" is what you hear people saying in Posoltega.

Felícitas is the most visible woman during this catastrophe. And that is because of the great tragedy that Posoltega is living. There isn´t hardly anybody who has not lost a family member during the volcano slide.

Women are the ones who have kept the refugee centers going. Women are the ones who are suffering the most together with children.

Posoltega is the most affected and were the biggest tragedy took place, yet President Arnoldo Alemán has not been there to know first hand about the pain and despair of the people.

When aid finally arrived in Posoltega, it was sent to the priest, not to the Mayor who was heading the local Emergency Committee and who was keeping whatever pieces were left together. It was a slap in Felícitas´ face that the local priest was not about to join in "I will distribute this food and medicines with and through Felícitas because she is the Mayor of Posoltega", he said.

I continue to wonder why no nicaraguan women group has pronounced itself in solidarity with Felícitas Zeledon and Mayra Guevara, the Deputy-Mayor. I continue to wonder why there hasn´t been any women initiative to bring food and medicines as a way of visualising that solidarity. I guess, I will continue to wonder that, nevertheless, this is something I would like to hear the nicaraguan women´s movement in trying to explain.

Arelys Bellorini

Executive Director
Fundación Movilización Social

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