West Miami-Dade

Sweetwater renames avenue in honor of Nicaragua

Sweetwater officials and citizens officially name the corner of Southwest 104 Court and Flagler Street as 'Avenida Nicaragua' on Monday June 29, 2015
Sweetwater officials and citizens officially name the corner of Southwest 104 Court and Flagler Street as 'Avenida Nicaragua' on Monday June 29, 2015 EL NUEVO HERALD

Sweetwater, the heart of the Nicaraguan community in Miami-Dade, has the the street named “Nicaragua Avenue” once again.

Almost 21 years after the city government approved a resolution to name Southwest 104th Court in honor of the Central American country — and then retired the name because of a technicality in county regulations — municipal employees and Nicaraguan activists unveiled Monday the sign with the new roadway name.

“We are very proud to be able to recognize this effort that started in 1994, when Mayor Matilde Aguirre approved [renaming the street],” said Mayor Orlando López in front of a Nicaraguan flag, in an event that closed off a portion of Southwest 104 Court, in front of the Managua commercial plaza.

The sign was placed on the corner of Southwest 104 Court and Flagler Street in 1994, and remained there for six years. But during a revision of the names of county roadways in 2000, the sign was retired after authorities determined they needed Miami-Dade County’s approval to change street names.

In April, with the help of Miami-Dade County Commissioner José “Pepe” Díaz, the resolution was approved.

People waved their blue and white flags during the ceremony, which was celebrated in Spanish, and a singer with a tenor voice sang the Nicaraguan national anthem and The Star Spangled Banner.

“[The renaming] fills us with joy and pride,” said Héctor Darío Pastora, from Movimiento Mundial Dariano, an organization that sought to change the name for years, and received a proclamation Monday.

Sweetwater has been a haven for the Nicaraguan community in South Florida since 1979, when the arrival of the first families to be exiled after the Sandinista National Liberation Front took power. Over the years, the city took up the nickname Little Managua.

About 24 percent of residents in Sweetwater are of Nicaraguan descent — the highest percentage in any city in Florida, according to data from the 2010 Census.

Javier Navas, who was born in Sweetwater from a Nicaraguan immigrant family and works as an administrative assistant in the city, said the renaming of the roadway honors people like his parents.

“This small city opened its door when they arrived in search of better opportunities in this country,” said Navas, who was the master of ceremonies during the event Monday. “This symbolizes that Sweetwater takes us into account. Just like we have Calle Cuba because of the large Cuban population, we are similarly recognized as a large Nicaraguan population.”

Consuelo Espinoza, a cultural activist and founder of the Community Performing Arts Association, said this recognition honors her community’s contributions.

“It is a well-deserved recognition for the large impact the Nicaraguan community has had in the United States and specifically in Sweetwater,” said Espinoza, who lived in Sweetwater for several years and coordinates the traditional celebration called “La Gritería,” an annual festival in the city where sections of the roads are closed off. “This city is still important, even for those of us who don’t live here anymore because it is a meeting place for the community.”

Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter” @BrendaMedinar.