Nidia Bustos Nicaragua

Nidia Bustos (1952, Nicaragua) is an inspirational leader whose work over more than 31 years has empowered campesinos (peasant farmers) to develop their communities through cultural activities. Campesino cultural groups were repressed by the brutal Somoza regime (1936-79) and following the successful Sandinista revolution, Bustos recognised their potential in rebuilding and sustaining rural communities. In 1980 she founded MECATE (Campesino Movement for Artistic and Theatrical Expression) to organise and support village-based performing arts groups completely staffed and run by campesinos. Drawing on their cultural heritage, the campesinos create narratives, songs and poems, and devise costumes and props using minimal resources. Their improvised dramas attract the entire community, providing humour and entertainment as they raise awareness and provoke discussion on relevant issues such as reforestation, malaria prevention, local impact of trade agreements, trickery of land speculators or the latest agricultural techniques. The performances affirm local values and identity, encourage self-expression, provide a means for addressing difficult issues and confronting injustices, and stimulate communal confidence and pride, building social cohesion. MECATE has grown to include more than 80 theatre and music groups. It organises regional meetings, workshops, exchanges and touring campaigns in solidarity at difficult periods in the campesinos’ year or on topics of special interest, initiates collaborative projects and runs national events such as poetry competitions and festivals of campesino music. MECATE documents cultural forms and innovations, publishes poems, songs and stories in booklets and magazines, and acts as a bridge between rural communities and urban agencies. MECATE’s director and motivator, Nidia Bustos is also a member of Fundación Luciérnaga, a non-profit organisation that works in communication for development. Nidia Bustos is honoured for her generosity and self-effacing dedication to the empowerment and self-realisation of campesino communities, for revitalising, modernising and fostering pride in indigenous cultures, and for her profoundly beneficial impact on social and cultural development in Nicaragua.

2011 Prince Claus Awards Book here.