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Amnesty International: Nicaragua Canal Sidelines Indigenous Peoples

“Trading on people’s basic human rights for the sake of money is not only morally questionable but also illegal,” it stated



The global organization Amnesty International (AI) criticized the “reckless” manner in which Daniel Ortega’s government is “handling a multi-billion dollar project that will see a canal cutting the country in two” and “will displace tens of thousands of people.”

In a communiqué issued by AI and signed by Americas Director Erika Guevara, the organization underscores that the canal project to be executed by Chinese entrepreneur Wang Jing puts the livelihoods of these communities at risk. Official data estimate that as many as 30,000 people will be affected, while independent studies by Red Local and the Humboldt Center calculate that this figure could be as high as 100,000.

“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 Guevera, referring to the appeal advanced by three indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities in Rama and Kriol.

At the beginning of January, members of these communities condemned central government “pressure” to sign their approval of the canal project. The governments of Rama and Kriol claimed their right to free, prior and informed consent had been violated.

“Trading on people’s basic human rights for the sake of money is not only morally questionable but also illegal. Authorities in Nicaragua must ensure they listen to those who will be most affected by the building of the canal, and take their views into account for decision making,” Guevara charged.

According to the report presented to the judiciary on February 5, the canal route cuts across 52 % of indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan territories in Rama and Kriol.

“Despite the communities requests for information, to date they have not been properly informed of the canal’s impacts on their livelihoods, territory and culture,” notes AI. According to the human rights organization, Nicaragua is sidelining local communities in its multi-billion dollar canal project.

  • This article has been translated from Spanish by Havana Times.
  • Read the original version here.