San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Nicaraguan Canal

Nicaragua Canal opponents call on Costa Rica to join fight to save lake

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A Nicaraguan delegation representing nearly 40 civil society organizations and political parties traveled to San José, Costa Rica, this week during the annual meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to generate regional support against the construction of a massive interoceanic canal there.

The group of environmentalists and human rights organizers plan to present an open letter to the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry for CELAC leaders that decries a lack of transparency in the project and threats to indigenous land rights and Lake Nicaragua, also known as Lake Cocibolca.

“This should be a great concern not only for Nicaragua but for the whole Central American region,” Suyen Barahona, national director for the Sandinista Renovation Movement, told The Tico Times.

Luisa Molina, director of Coordinadora Civil, a human rights organization, said that Costa Ricans would also be affected by the environmental consequences of the Great Nicaragua Canal on Lake Cocibolca and the two countries’ shared watershed.

On a local level, Molina said the canal would displace tens of thousands of people either from their land or their traditional way of life, from indigenous landholders to artisanal fishermen.

“We want development for Nicaragua but we want the people’s voice to be heard because they were never heard, either in a referendum or a plebiscite,” Octavio Ortega, national coordinator for the Council for the Defense of the Land, Lake and Sovereignty of Nicaragua, told The Tico Times.

From left, Luisa Molina, director of Coordinadora Civil, Octavio Ortega, national coordinator for the Council for the Defense of the Land, Lake and Sovereignty of Nicaragua and Suyen Barahona, national director for the Sandinista Renovation Movement.

Alberto Font/The Tico Times

Ortega said they asked for a chance to dialogue with the government after the $50 billion project was rushed through the Nicaraguan legislature in a scant three days and without consulting the public.

“The people’s response is to demonstrate because they never gave the government a blank check so they could sell these properties. Every day the people’s frustration grows,” he said.

Ortega said that if the government will not meet with them to address their concerns about the canal project, which broke ground in December 2014, they would threaten a peaceful general strike.

Along with reaching out to CELAC leaders this week, the delegation is working to collect 1 million signatures from across Nicaragua to send to Pope Francis.

Ortega said that some efforts to collect signatures against the project have been hampered by hopes that the canal will bring the jobs that President Daniel Ortega has long promised.

Molina added that besides the environmental damage the dredging of Lake Nicaragua would cause, the project’s aims were unrealistic.

“The government media is saying that the canal is a panacea that’s going to raise us out of poverty [and] create jobs,” she said. “It’s creating an expectation that it’s never going to live up to.”

The delegation said they still supported many aspects of the canal project, including the construction of two large ports and an interoceanic railroad, but added that the freshwater of Lake Cocibolca was more important than any canal.

Said Molina: “There’s still time to save Lake Nicaragua.”

Contact Zach Dyer at

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Otton Bexaron

Pst! Obviously the canal would benefit the USA: It would shorten the sailing time between the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports to Asia by one day, and permit 12,000 container freighters instead the limit of 4,000 in the new Panama Canal. Thus obviously a competitive advantage, especially for U.S. agricultural exports to Asia. It seems that Walter Bastian, U.S. Assistance Secretary of Commerce was in Nicaragua and may have indicated “the U.S. Government might be willing to assent in the canal project and would be willing to pursue the idea if the private sector expresses interest” (But the “maybe”: Nicaragua has to settle all pending property claims made by U.S. Americans…) And Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Robert Jacobson (currently in Cuba negotiating the normalization) may have indicated that the canal is ‘business opportunity”. Thus as always in U.S. global full spectrum control: “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop”. Now to the “Bad Cop”: The “Miami Contra” era ended in 1990 and the U.S. and NATO switched to using in Latin America the “activists” of European NGOs: Germans, Swiss, Austrians, British, Danes do not arouse suspicion, but across Latin America they are the “new contras”. In Nicaragua the lead “contra” NGO is the Danish “IBIS” that had already been expelled in 2013 from Bolivia due to similar “conspiracy”. “IBIS” manipulates and finances the “40” resistance groups mentioned in the article. The names are all known. Where does the money come from ? The “visible” financing comes from the Embassies of Germany and Finland and from semi-official representations of the “off-shore-banking-nations” Switzerland, Ljuxemburg, Netherlands. And of course from Danemark. The there is the “invisible” financing – possibly from some U.S. NGOs , perhaps even some financed by U.S. Congress (never underestimate the duplicity by some in Washington, or “rouge ops”. Remember Oliver North ? The “urban legend” being pushed is the “lack of transparency”. But the Nicaraguan government commissiones already in 2011 pre-feasility studies by Haskoning DHV (technical) and Ecocys (financial and social). Now McKinsey&Co. provides the fact based economic data, CMG and SBE of Belgium may provide the port planning , installations (locks etc), and MCC Mining and China Railway Construction the technical feasibility studies. In past years, the government of Nicaragua already contacted the major international financial institutions as well as the wetland convention. Now all this is in the international media and can be observed in the internet. Of course – the estimated 7,000 families that would need to relocate have a right to be concerned and deserve both information as well as adequate compensation. Nicaragua needs to feed and employ an additional 100,000 new people EACH year until 2020, according to the CIA factbook.

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Otton Bexaron

Correction: ECORYS {not Ecocys_) One more comment: CELAC was the last place the “resistance” should have contacted: Practically each one of the 33 CELAC member nations – all nations of Latin American and the Caribbean (except USA and Canada) have almost identical issues related to their development or infrastructure ennhancement. If they could – as did Bolivia expelling “IBIS” and Ecuador expelling “Pachamama” – they all would expel the hundreds of foreign NGOs and foreign “activists”… The same pertains to most nations in Asia and Africa. Thus far only India prohibited financing for 4,144 NGOs active in India from the USA, Britain, France. Germany, “Scandinavia: “Due to diversion of funds against the national interests of India.” They arrested and deported one German “activist”.

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Donaldo Lopez

Quería desir Nicaragua ya ha terminado con otras dictaduras y pueden acabar con otra mas, yo no estoy seguro que van llevar a feliz término el canal, pero si lo hacen, va a durar mas de cien años, no hay en la historia de Nicaragua ninguna dictadura de cien años, siempre habrán “Sandinos” de vedad no los que se roban el nombre y sus Revoluciones.

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Donaldo Lopez

Voy a empezar con una pregunta, quire esta gente un nuevo tratado “molinaortegachinchillabarahona”?.
Los tiquillos no van de gratis, que les van a dar, ellos ya han demostrado que le quisieran echar mano al LAGO DE NICARAGUA
Nicaragua es libre y soberana para hacer lo que sea con sus recursos naturales
Acaso estos “representantes” si hicieron un referendo que les dio autoridad para hablar por todos los Nicaragüenses?
Haora, porque solo hablan de que el lago no puede proveer el agua para operar las exclusas, y que se va a destruír?. Para su conocimiento la cuenca del lago y del río San Juan de Nicaragua es de mas de 40000KM2, mas de cuatro veces la del Gatun en Panamá, Costa Rica ha dragado el Colorado-Caño Bravo (este nombre no estoy seguro) y han echo un canal para llevar las aguas de nuestro río San Juan, nuestras aguas según entiendo hasta Limón
Explicó: de la cuenca del lago-río Costa Rica solo aporta el 20%, Nicaragua: el 80%, mas o menos lo que se distribuía en el pasado, ahora: Más del 80% para el lado tico, menos del 20% para el lado Nica. Ortega Murillo vende patria? No hay duda, Ortega Molina Barahona quieren ganarse el derecho para ellos
Pregunto donde estaban ellos cuando comenzaron a destruir lo que antes se conocía com la Costa Atlántica y las Segovias? Todas las 8 grandes cuecas han sido destruidas.
Para finalisar: para operar las exclusa se nesesitan quizás: 4 mil millones de metros cúbicos de agua, toda la cuenca aporta: más o menos 50 mil millones de metros cúbicos de agua, a menos que haya un verdadero desastre , no habría problema, si se reforesta y se cuida mejor
Recuerden malos nicas hay que luchar por LA PATRIA no contra ella no mas Nuevas Guineas, los colonos siempre legan a destruir, con culpa o sin culpa, los mismos nativos y verdaderos dueños (Misitos, Sumos, Ramas) se han quejado, los colonos llegan a destruir (quemar) la jungla y las montañas
Dejen de meterle el mono a los que no entienden, ayúdenles a luchar por una justa compensación, Nicaragua no se debe estancar porque 30000 personas tienen que ser re localizadas, eminent Domain se aplica en todas partes del mundo, solo exijan que sean justos con la gente pobre porque los terratenientes se entienden con los dictadores de turno, solo recuerden, si el dictador de turno quiere estar mas de lo debido, el Pueblo de Nicarsgua

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