Rachel Arvizu and her grandchildren have fled Nicaragua in fear for their lives.
Rachel has always been a Sandinista. But she agreed with the students who opposed a government plan to raise taxes and cut benefits for Social Security. On April 18, the students took to the streets in peaceful protest.
Rachel’s home is near the Universidad Politécnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI), whose students were among the protesters, and their campus became a gathering place for students from other universities.
Because of her proximity to the protests, her house became a place to rest and get food and water.
The government of Daniel Ortega responded to the protests by having police shoot into the crowds of protesters. Paramilitary forces appeared, and protesters were slated for arrest or outright murder. More than 400 people have been killed, and many more have been arrested and tortured.
In the early morning of June 15, Rachel received word that paramilitary forces would be sent to her house to set it on fire, preferably with her entire extended family inside. The family took refuge with a neighbor. She watched as paramilitary forces shot their way into her house and set it on fire.
The government has labeled all protesters as terrorists and there are arrest warrants for them.
Rachel cannot stay in her current refuge: She is 63 and her grandchildren are 14 and 6. Employment there is not an option, and they have no way to maintain themselves.
She desperately needs to get to Canada, where her son lives. They can live with Marlon, however, he does not make enough money on his own to sponsor his family.
The only alternative is to be sponsored by a group, which must raise $27,000, the amount the Canadian government estimates the family would need for its first year there. We also need funds for airfare to get the family to Canada, so we are hoping to raise $30,000.
Please help Rachel get to safety.
This campaign is organized by Julie A. Charlip, professor of Latin American history at Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. My interest in Latin America was sparked by my first trip to Nicaragua in 1983, when I met the Arvizu family. As I continued to research Nicaragua over the years, my home in Nicaragua was always with the Arvizus. Rachel and her grandchildren have already been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but each country sets is own rules regarding how refugees may enter. The Canadian government requires sponsorship of refugees by family or a group of donors. This fund will fulfill the Canadian government's requirements The funds being raised will be used to support the family during its first year in Canada and will be drawn on by Rachel.