Chichigalpa is a small community rarely visited by tourists. Located 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Managua, Nicaragua, it is home to the Ingenio San Antonio, where the sugar cane is industrially processed, and the National Liquor Company, where the famous Ron Flor the Caña is produced.
Although most of the land in this municipality is covered with abundant green reeds and manzanas of sugar cane fields, there lies a dark, sinister side to Chichigalpa. Nicknamed “The Island of the Widows”, 2,500-3,800 sugar cane workers have died within the past ten years. Of the 250 families living in Chichigalpa, more than 100 women have lost their husbands to chronic kidney failure, a disease that paralyses kidney function by preventing the body from eliminating waste and excess liquid from the blood.
This documentary was produced by La Isla Foundation whose goals are to facilitate research to identify the cause of the CKD epidemic, raise public awareness of this epidemic, and organize a public health intervention to support affected workers, as well as to prevent future generations from becoming ill.
Most of the widows have gone through the pain of watching their husbands, sons, and brothers die in a painful agonizingly slow process. If they are unable to find work to support their fatherless children, they take the machete and enter the cane fields bathed in chemicals that might have killed their husbands.
There is no cure for CKD. Presently, the research indicates the cause may be a result of the accumulation of chemicals from the aerial sprays seeping silently into their water supplies. No one knows for sure.
Below are several links to articles with information about the plight of the sugarcane workers in Nicaragua. If you would like to become involved, please visit the last link, La Isla Foundation. Let’s spread the word. With a concerned and informed international community, we can reverse the plight of the Island of the Widows.