The Nicaraguan Institute of Culture established in 1989 is the competent body for the preservation of cultural heritage, including implementing the 2003 Convention and the constitutional obligation to promote the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) with the participation of the Nicaraguan people. Within the Institute, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage has a dedicated Department for Traditional Heritage that coordinates, proposes and follows up the safeguarding and management of ICH.
The Constitution (1987) contains certain important provisions, including: recognition of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples, of their languages and their right to preserve and develop their identity and culture, as well as their right to access to culture; recognition of the multi-ethnic character of the country; and the right of the communities of the Caribbean coast to preserve and develop their cultures and express themselves in their own language. The new policy of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity (2007) defines the cultural orientations and action lines for culture and considers ICH as a key component of development of local communities. This has opened the way for a series of important laws and regulations related to ICH. Moreover, culture has been integrated in the National Plan of Human Development while involving other State Ministries, thus giving it a strategic and structural role. A new draft law for the preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage, including ICH, is being prepared by the Institute of Culture.
Training in management of living heritage is guided by the Institute of Culture, in cooperation with communities, local authorities, cultural and youth movements through training workshops and seminars. Within formal university education, this is tied to various professional domains such as anthropology, sociology and history and, in particular, the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua (UNAN-MANAGUA). Masters courses at the National Engineering University (UNI) such as the Central American Masters in Management and Conservation of Cultural Heritage are also relevant for the protection of physical sites and places related to ICH expressions.
Documentation on ICH is held in the National Library Rubén Dario (BNRD), the National Network of Public Libraries and the General Archives of the Nation (AGN), under the Institute for Culture which preserve important documents including books, manuscripts and photographs relating to all ICH elements in the country. The National Cinémathèque produces and compiles important cultural documentaries and films, notably on ICH elements. The Department of History at the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua (UNAN-MANAGUA) holds relevant research results and theses while the Centre for Information and Documentation of the Atlantic Coast (CIDCA) of Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) holds documentation relating to indigenous culture and traditional and sustainable economic activities of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua; this is accessible for students, researchers and the general public.
There is no information on inventorying provided in the Report, with the exception that the preparation of the international nomination file led to the inventorying of the La Gritería element in 2012.
The Institute for Culture has put in place many actions for the promotion of cultural traditions that are still living with a community-based approach, including a major safeguarding programme for afro-descendant and indigenous foodways, dances, music, legends and traditions. Books and other more popular materials on ICH elements, such as brochures, have also been published. For example, seven cultural coursebooks have been compiled on the main traditional expressions of the six afro descendant communities of the Caribbean Coast, along with data and other information. A total of 130 research projects on oral expressions, traditions and cultural and scientific issues, including catalogues and manuals, have been undertaken and published in paper and electronically between 2007 and 2014 as a support for both safeguarding and promotion.
To encourage community participation, 39 community groups have been created to form the ‘National Network of Heritage Defenders’, bringing together youth and municipality groups, aimed towards raising awareness about safeguarding. These comprise some thousands of people, of whom 52% are women and Nicaragua has become the leader of a regional (Central American) initiative towards better management of local cultural heritage. Since 2001, there has been a programme for establishing community and safeguarding museums for local cultural expressions in all towns, with the cooperation of municipalities.
Following 1979, a process of education and awareness-raising about cultural heritage was initiated that integrated the cultural expressions of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples of the Caribbean Coast. For the latter, a multilingual education programme has been put in place that has allowed for safeguarding indigenous languages and with specific methodologies.
For local capacity-building, a programme has been in place since the 1980s for training cultural promoters who work in safeguarding cultural manifestations among different communities with ‘Houses of Culture’ set up in many local authority areas. These are grouped into the Association of Cultural Promoters (APC) which continues to put in place training initiatives with local actors. Over the past five years, the Heritage Project for the Development of Municipalities in the Masaya region (with Spanish cooperation) has led to the establishment of the ‘Cultural Classroom’ using available spaces within the existing national education system where bearers transmit their knowledge and experiences to young people. The training and promotion of artisans and craftspeople by the Ministry of Family, Community and Associative Economy includes strategies to help artisans sell their products in national, regional and international trade fairs. Between 2011 and 2014, 45 training and technical assistance workshops on safeguarding and documenting cultural traditions have been held for inhabitants of various municipalities in the country.
For bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, Nicaragua supported the multinational nomination of the Garifuna language, dance and music element (recognized as a Masterpiece in 2001) and this led to State-level cooperation with Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, as well as among the Garifuna people. In 2005, Nicaragua hosted a Summit on the nomination file with participation of State-level delegations and communities from Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Dominican Republic. Nicaragua has also participated with Honduras and El Salvador in 2013 in a capacity-building project led by UNESCO to strengthen their national capacity in implementing the 2003 Convention and to be trained on the use of mechanisms of the Convention. Nicaragua has also been a member of the Intergovernmental Committee during 2010–13.
Nicaragua has two elements inscribed on the Representative List of which one is a multinational inscription, namely: Language, dance and music of the Garifuna (2008, with Belize, Guatemala and Honduras); and El Güegüense (2008).