Nicaragua and particularly its second largest city, León, have been a part of the cultural life of Gettysburg and Adams County for almost 40 years, largely through the sister city program established by Project Gettysburg León (PGL). One part of this has been the annual Salsa on the Square event held annually in September (pandemic years excepted) and the annual PGL auction. This relationship has meant cultural exchange delegations, with hundreds of Gettysburg folks visiting Nicaragua and many Nicaraguans also visiting Adams County by invitation of PGL. The focus of these delegations has varied since the two places have much in common: agriculture, the arts and education have all been themes of past delegations. One recent example of such a delegation was a small mural project at The Painted Turtle Farm on the Gettysburg College campus in 2022. PGL hopes to expand on that with more mural projects in the future, working together with the Gettysburg community.

The country of Nicaragua in recent years has mostly been the subject of negative press, much of it quite justified. It remains a safe place for visitors from other countries, but its internal politics since 2018 have become progressively more difficult. That year, a series of student protests led to street violence and over 400 deaths, followed by a government crackdown on any political opposition. In the past year, the government has made international headlines for the forced closing of non-political aid groups and nonprofit organizations, or recently for expelling more than 200 Nicaraguan opposition figures from the country and then depriving them of citizenship. The economy has deteriorated, in part due to U.S. sanctions, and almost 10% of the country has emigrated, usually illegally. Most emigrants are young people, leaving to places such as the U.S. or Spain.

Greg Bowles is the current director for Project Gettysburg Leon, the sister city program between Gettysburg and the country of Nicaragua that was founded in 1986.

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