In 1987, an Upper West Side, New York City-based sub-committee of the Committee for Non-Intervention in Central America wrote to the Nicaraguan government requesting to be paired with a Nicaraguan city. A letter was received assigning this small group of New Yorkers to the city of Tipitapa with a population in excess of 100,000, and in May 1987 we partnered with a local non-profit, COMPALCIHT (Municipal Coordinating Council for Sister Cities Twinned with Tipitapa). In 2000, the Upper West Side-Tipitapa Sister City acquired 501(c)3 status and became Dos Pueblos.
Over time Dos Pueblos, which in Spanish means ‘two peoples’ or ‘two towns’ began working directly with the communities, its leaders and local government—a dynamic partnership ensued and many people-to-people exchanges later, we continue to contribute to better living standards that are based on social justice and mutual respect. As Tipitapa’s population continues to grow, our strong partnerships with the people of Nicaragua are successfully promoting sustainable development while maintaining awareness for the environment. Together, we work on projects of education, nutrition, health promotion, cross-cultural and educational exchanges, and environmental health. By strengthening relationships between our communities, we seek to move toward a partnership that is based on understanding, and diversity of perspectives and culture.
Our Board & Staff
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ann Garvin, Chair. Ann’s background is in philanthropy, international development, and nonprofit management. After 20 years at the Ford Foundation, she has worked for the Beldon Fund, the United Nations Development Program, and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. She has a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University and an MS in International Affairs with a concentration in Socioeconomic Development from the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.
Frances Geteles, Vice Chair. Clinical Psychologist, Professor Emeritus, City College; psychologist consultant for Physicians for Human Rights and the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic—advocating for the rights of immigrants and refugees.
Susan Light, General Counsel. Senior Staff Attorney at the NY Legal Aid Society
Sarah Birch, Secretary. PhD Candidate, School Psychology, City University of New York
Madeline Boyer: Retired New York City public school teacher
Sonia Farago: Activist, Working Family Party
Steve Siegelbaum: Retired New York City School Principal
Arlene Tolopko: Retired New York City School Teacher
Victor G. Alecia: President, Boricua College, New York, NY
Noam Chomsky: Linguist, Philosopher, Cognitive Scientist, Political Activist, Author and Lecturer
Judy Collins: Folk singer
Letty Cottin Pogrebin: Journalist, Author, Founding Editor, Ms. Magazine, Founder, National Women’s Caucus
Angela Diaz: Professor, Adolescent Medicine, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Barbara Ehrenreich: Journalist, Author and Social Commentator
Magda Enriquez-Beitler: Diplomat, Educator and Author. Former Nicaraguan Special Envoy, Ambassador and Senior Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly. Expert in bilingual education programs.
Dena Fisher: Consultant to international non-profit organizations in the areas of development, health, and social service programming. Previously, Executive Director of Dos Pueblos, Executive Director, Seeds of Peace, and Assistant Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Health; Ph.D. in Social Policy, Brandeis University; Lecturer, New York Medical College, School of Public Health, International Health in health care in developing countries.
Holly Near: Musical performer and activist, collaborated with Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ronnie Gilbert in the H.A.R.P. series
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger: Musical Performer and Community Activist
Helen Shannon: Linguist
Victor Sidel: Distinguished University Professor, Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center and past President of the American Public Health Association
Blanche Wiesen Cook: Author, Faculty, Professor, City University of New York
Lupe Ramsey, Executive Director
MS, International Affairs, New School University, New York. International development experience in various countries with community based organizations to support sustainable change for improved health care, education, gender equality, and agricultural practices.
Tipitapa is a large, sprawling urban and rural community over 360 sq. miles, with an ever-growing population of over 150,000 residents, located along the Pan-American Highway, 12 miles from Managua and minutes from the Managua International Airport. During the last thirty years, most residents have settled here from other parts of Nicaragua due to war, natural disasters, and better economic opportunities.
Although Tipitapa offers better job opportunities due to its proximity to Managua and boasts the largest free trade zone in Nicaragua— workers struggle daily with exploitative working conditions, and earn about $3 per day. New free trade zone factories continue to be built to employ unskilled workers—mostly young women.
After many years of neoliberal government policies that eliminated most public services across Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega’s reelection in 2007 saw the return of free public education and health care without cost to families. Some initiatives include ‘El Programa Amor’, a government-funded campaign to improve the livelihoods of Nicaraguan children and their basic conditions; 2009 will see the completion of the Sandinista Literacy Campaign, based on the Cuban model, “Yo Sí Puedo” (Yes, I can), which recently declared that Nicaragua is free of illiteracy; and “Hambre Cero” which gives impoverished mothers “tools for production” – a packet of farm animals and seeds to grow animal feed and basic grains – and trains families how to raise and breed their animals.
Although the current mayor of Tipitapa Cesar Vasquez is doing all he can to address his citizen’s needs, the current woes of the global economy along with serious budgetary constraints have created great challenges in meeting social development goals. Despite these limitations, the mayor and his staff are committed to providing better social services, and fully supports the work of Dos Pueblos to achieve better living conditions in Tipitapa.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and is approximately the size of New York State. It is often referred to by its people as ‘the land of lakes and volcanoes’, and has the largest freshwater lakes in Central America: Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. These two lakes are joined by the Tipitapa River, which flows south into Lake Nicaragua. Socio-economic conditions place Nicaragua as the poorest Central American country, and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, only after Haiti. According to UNICEF, 75% of Nicaraguans live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in most parts of the country exceeds 70%. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, dengue, diarrhea, and respiratory diseases are of epidemic proportions. Less than 1/3 of children have access to potable water and 40% to basic sanitation. The diet of over 70% of Nicaraguans does not provide even 50% of nutritional needs—2/3 of children lack iron and Vitamin A and 40% are anemic. It is difficult to calculate infant mortality rates in Nicaragua, since over 60% of births are not registered.