Nicaraguan indigenous, Afro-Caribbeans sue government over pressure for inter-oceanic canal

February 12, 2016
1 Comments

Indigenous and Afro-Caribbean leaders in Nicaragua filed a lawsuit against government officials last week after they were allegedly coerced into signing a document giving consent for a planned inter-oceanic canal project to pass through their autonomous territory.

According to the Rama-Kriol Territorial Government (GTR-K), public officials called a series of unplanned meetings in the indigenous territories last month and pressured local leaders to sign a consent document. After GTR-K leaders unanimously refused to sign, government officials presented a second document they said established terms for future negotiations. GTR-K leaders say they were not permitted to review the document, but some were coerced into signing anyway. After signing, the GTR-K was given a copy of the agreement and discovered that it contained several articles granting consent for the construction of the massive Nicaragua Canal.

The GTR-K has now filed a lawsuit with an appeals court in an effort to nullify those signatures. In the complaint, GTR-K leaders allege that public officials – Johnny Hodgson, Michael Campbell, Danilo Chang and Rubén López – jeopardized the self-determination of the Rama-Kriol people by denying their right to legal council, to the presence of international observers and to technical explanations of the proposed canal’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) during the meeting.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding the planned $50-billion canal project. Construction, which was originally set to start at the beginning of 2015, has been delayed due to environmental and feasibility questions raised in the ESIA. The project’s financing was also thrown into question after Wang Jing, the project’s Chinese billionaire backer, lost 84 percent of his fortune when the Chinese stock market crashed last August.

The alleged abuse of indigenous rights has now set off a firestorm of criticism in the international community. Last week, Amnesty International condemned the Nicaraguan government’s management of the canal project.

“The fact that Nicaragua is planning to go ahead with a mega project that will destroy the lives of many communities without even properly taking their views into consideration is outrageous,” said Erika Guevara, Americas Director at Amnesty International, in a statement released by the group. “Trading on people’s basic human rights for the sake of money is not only morally questionable but also illegal.”

Read more stories about the controversial Nicaragua Canal here

You may be interested

Brazil knocks Costa Rica out of World Cup after hard-fought game
World Cup 2018
22 views
World Cup 2018
22 views

Brazil knocks Costa Rica out of World Cup after hard-fought game

AFP and Tico Times - June 22, 2018

Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored in injury time as Brazil beat Costa Rica 2-0 to edge towards the last 16 of the World…

Costa Rica fans descend on Saint Petersburg
World Cup 2018
41 views
World Cup 2018
41 views

Costa Rica fans descend on Saint Petersburg

Katherine Stanley - June 22, 2018

A sea of red, white and blue, along with plenty of blue, yellow and green, brightened Saint Petersburg as the…

This week in the Peace Corps: Cacao in Talamanca
Changemakers
35 views
Changemakers
35 views

This week in the Peace Corps: Cacao in Talamanca

Elizabeth Lang - June 22, 2018

​Cacao is a plant that can be found in various regions of Costa Rica. Some Peace Corps Volunteers get the…