09/12/2020

Acceptance Speech – Lottie Cunningham Wren

This motivates me to continue the struggle to achieve the dreams of my People so that one day social justice will prevail

Laikula yabis sna won uplika nani ra. 

Good Evening and Good Night to all of you who are listening to the ceremony – and thank you so much Parul Sharma.  

First of all, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to my fellow Right Livelihood Laureates  2020. For me, it is a privilege to share this moment with you. 

My team and I are honoured by this recognition. 

I affirm to the World and to Nicaragua that I do not assume this prize in a personal capacity but on behalf of the indigenous peoples of Nicaragua, particularly those who have given their lives defending  Mother Earth, and the indigenous and Afro-descendant women of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua who fight day by day for life and territory. Likewise, I accept the Award at a time when more than 270  Indigenous, Afro-descendant communities and other communities in Nicaragua have been devastated by two hurricanes in less than 15 days, leaving thousands of indigenous people without food, clean water, houses and roofs. 

I could not make it without those human rights defenders who are within the communities – for them a  special thanks, also to my wonderful family who supports me and my many partners who have collaborated with us for all these years in achieving the dreams of my people. 

As an indigenous woman with a deep faith in God, I have raised this small voice for the Indigenous and  Afro-descendant Peoples who have no voice – to be able to share the testimonies of Indigenous women about their pain and their struggle. 

Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples live in 304 villages in 23 territories. 90% of our territories face a massive invasion of settlers, most of them armed land grabbers. These settlers cut down our forests,  mine our minerals, and ranch cattle on our lands. They are pushing my people off their farmlands and out of their villages, where they used to carry out traditional activities like hunting, fishing and collecting traditional medicinal plants. We are in a humanitarian crisis. 

Even though Nicaragua has one of the broadest laws in terms of indigenous peoples’ rights, recognizing the autonomy of communities in the management of their lands and natural resources, and establishing a specific demarcation and titling process, everything remains a paper promise. The State of Nicaragua has refused to implement concrete action to protect indigenous people’s life, territory and culture identity. 

I have walked a long time with my people, with those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, who suffer the restrictions on their mobility due to forced displacement, who suffer the violence, the destruction of the environment or the violation of their basic rights. It is for them that I am here. 

My people are suffering under the armed land grab, Covid-19 pandemic, and now two direct hurricanes that have wiped away houses, farm animals, crops, and stored food.  

However, I feel optimistic about the teachings of my grandmother who taught me many values and principles to LIVE IN HARMONY WITH MOTHER NATURE. This motivates me to continue the struggle to achieve the dreams of my People so that one day social justice will prevail, self-determination and the management of our own territories. 

The award will be used in these crucial times to continue to seek social justice for all indigenous and Afro-descendant communities on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and to support the communities on the humanitarian emergency. 

Thank you all for believing and choosing us for this very important award.