Central American indigenous people's painting of wetlands

Central American indigenous people's painting of wetlands

19 March 2002


During the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, in San José, Costa Rica, May 1999, whilst delegates and observers were pondering weighty issues in the great hall, representatives of indigenous people in Mesoamerica labored daily on an enormous painting showing the values of wetlands in the region, artistically based upon the fishing culture of the Solentiname archipelago in the southeast of Lago de Nicaragua or Cocibolca and the San Juan river.

At the conclusion of the 10 days of deliberations, the artists presented their painting and their "People's Declaration on Wetlands" during the closing ceremonies. In the rush of events, however, the painting, though now framed and prominently displayed in the Secretary General's office and during Standing Committee meetings, was not included in reports of the COP and never made available on this Web site.

Here is a photo-scan of the painting itself, followed by a description of the circumstances of its creation by Ms Rocío Córdoba MSc., Coordinadora, Area Temática de Humedales y Zonas Costeras para Mesoamérica, UICN Mesoamérica, ORMA.

"The painting was an output coming from a very very important process that IUCN Mesoamerica Wetlands and Coastal Zones Program promoted during the year 1998 and 1999 in Central America. In each country, we had a process of the elaboration of People's Declaration on Wetlands. In each country of the region we have a group of indigenous and campesino people living close to Ramsar sites in a workshop in order to get their feelings about what wetlands are and the importance of these ecosystems for their lifes. As a result of this process a "People's declaration on wetlands" was produced and presented during the COP7 by a local woman from Honduras. In order to elaborate this Central American people's declaration we had a workshop in Solentiname in which all the painters participated and from which they've got the "inspiration" for the painting that you have in Gland and another painting which is in our office in Mesoamerica. As you can see the picture is not only a product of the painters' imagination but an inspiration on the declaration's process. I am really glad that this finally will have the importance that it deserves." -- Rocío Córdoba, UICN Mesoamérica. 

Caption from: The Cultural Heritage of Wetlands
Légende de: Les zones humides et le patrimoine culturel
Leyenda de: Los humedales y el patrimonio culturel
"This painting was produced in Costa Rica during the 7th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP) to the Ramsar Convention, May 1999. The 7 indigenous artists, from the Solentiname archipelago in the south-east corner of Lake Cocibolca, Nicaragua, live in fishing and farming communities that are closely linked to their wetland environment. Their presence at the Conference was part of a much larger project organized by IUCN-Mesoamerica that brought together local groups in several countries to discuss the importance of wetlands in their lives; an outcome of the meeting was a "People's declaration on wetlands", which was subsequently presented at the Conference. As part of the project, a workshop for artists in Solentiname encouraged an artistic expression of the close relationship between the people and their wetlands, and a group of these artists, working during the COP in Costa Rica, produced this painting of their Solentiname environment. The painting is currently displayed in the office of the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention in Switzerland."Ce tableau a été réalisé au Costa Rica, pendant la 7e Session de la Conférence des Parties contractantes (COP) à la Convention de Ramsar, en mai 1999. Les sept artistes autochtones, de l'archipel de Solentiname, au sud-est du lac Cocibolca, au Nicaragua, vivent dans des communautés de pêcheurs et d'agriculteurs qui dépendent étroitement du milieu des zones humides. Ils étaient présents à la Conférence dans les cadre d'un projet beaucoup plus vaste, organisé par UICN-Méso-Amérique, qui a réuni des groupes locaux de plusieurs pays pour débattre de l'importance des zones humides dans leur vie. Suite à la réunion, une déclaration a été rédigée ("la Déclaration des peuples sur les zones humides") et présentée à la Conférence. Dans le cadre du projet, un atelier pour les artistes de Solentiname a encouragé l'expression artistique de la relation étroite entre l'homme et les zones humides et le groupe d'artistes a réalisé, durant la COP7, ce tableau qui décrit la vie à Solentiname. L'œuvre se trouve actuellement dans le bureau du Secrétaire général de la Convention de Ramsar, en Suisse.Esta pintura fue realizada en Costa Rica durante la 7a reunión de la Conferencia de las Partes Contratantes (COP) de la Convención de Ramsar, en mayo de 1999. Los siete artistas indígenas, del archipiélago de Solentiname, en la esquina sudoriental del lago Cocibolca, Nicaragua, viven en comunidades pesqueras y agrícolas estrechamente vinculadas a su entorno de humedales. Su asistencia a la Conferencia formó parte de un proyecto mucho más amplio organizado por UICN-Mesoamérica, gracias al cual se reunió a grupos locales de varios países para analizar la importancia de los humedales en sus vidas; uno de los resultados de la reunión fue la "Declaración de los pueblos indígenas sobre los humedales", presentada posteriormente a la Conferencia. Dentro del proyecto, un taller para artistas establecido en Solentiname fomentó la expresión artística de las estrechas relaciones existentes entre los seres humanos y sus humedales, y un grupo de esos artistas pintó este cuadro durante la COP de Costa Rica que muestra el entorno de Solentiname. La pintura está expuesta en la actualidad en la Oficina del Secretario General de la Convención de Ramsar en Suiza.