Nicaragua's Asamblea Nacional
Yesterday i spent all morning with my compañeros from Servicio Jesuita de Migrantes on the floor of the Asamblea Nacional (AN) - Nicaragua's national legislative body (it is a one-camera system here). We were lobbying motions to be included in the Migration Law that is currently being debated. Just as I have felt when I've lobbied on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., this type of direct political involvement changes one's perspective on "democracy" -- laws and public policies feel closer, more accessible, more personable, especially when you watch legislators voting electronically on each chapter of a huge legal document while simultaneously checking their facebook pages and talking on their IPhones! (Which seemed to be the telephone of choice of Nicaragua's National Assembly!). While two of the motions that we presented with SJM did not have consensus, one did - meaning we have support from legislators both from the FSLN and the ALN (one of several "liberal" or opposition parties). This motion pertains to the conditions on the migrant retention center in Managua and will be voted on when the Assembly returns to the migration law later this month. A parallel observation: despite what I have perceived to be an overwhelming feeling of chaos and insecurity in the Nicaraguan political system during my time here, my experience inside the AN left me feeling as though the system is still, somehow, despite all the crises, partisian conflicts, and even violent confrontations, working. If democracy is defined by elected representatives from multiple parties meeting, reviewing legislative proposals, and voting to make laws, then it still seems to be functioning in Nicaragua.