Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 404 | Marzo 2015




Envío team

Environmental lawyer Mónica López Baltodano provided more precise data this month about the deadlines granted to the Chinese company HKND Group for the canal project. She announced the following on Zanja TV (http://youtu.be/o5eo-0qsBhU), a new anti-canal Internet channel: “When one analyzes the terms
of the concession it becomes clear that the investor is currently operating within a grace period they gave him: 16 years to negotiate financing for the project and build the infrastructure work. Only after those 16 years, when the canal is ready and the first ship goes through it, will the first 50 years of the concession begin to be counted. The investor then decides if he wants the next 50 years or not…. The canal concession does not establish any limits to the areas of the country that will be affected. It’s not Nicaragua telling the investor what areas of the country are going to be granted to him, but rather the investor telling Nicaragua what areas he wants for his projects. And as more than 10 mega-projects were given to the investor simultaneously, the effects won’t be limited to the canal route. The concession even leaves the door open for the investor to continue adding more projects that interest him ad infinitum. This isn’t just some suspicion; it has already been confirmed through the investor’s announcement of four tourist complexes along the canal route that were not in the initial concession.”

In early February, officials of ERM, the US company contracted by Chinese business wheeler dealer Wang Jing to do the environmental and social impact studies for his interoceanic canal, turned over to Nicaragua’s Institute of Culture some 14,000 objects of patrimonial value—pre-Colombian and Lithic ceramic pieces—found on their travels along the approved canal route of more than 6,000 kilometers. How many more, including possibly important buried sites, might be pulverized by the machinery used to dig the canal?

Also in early February, the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development presented the results of a study done in June of last year in 12 of the country’s poorest municipalities, the majority of them with mayors belonging to the governing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The most notable finding is the centralizing of decision-making in the municipalities by FSLN political secretaries rather than the municipal governments. This practice has led to the virtually total loss of municipal autonomy. The Network plans to do a similar study in another 25 municipalities, most of them with a larger and more pluralist population.

At the beginning of March the Network presented preliminary results from another study being conducted in 13 municipalities that will be directly affected if the inter¬oceanic canal is indeed built, revealing perceptions about the canal by the communities of Puerto Príncipe, La Unión and La Fonseca, all in the municipality of Nueva Guinea. The population’s uncertainty over a project that will expropriate their lands and then relocate them who knows where has resulted in peasant farmers limiting their planting
to family consumption, abandoning production for sale, which is very serious not only due to their income loss but also for the country as a whole, given the importance of agricultural production in that zone.

In honor of International Women’s Day, the Central American University (UCA) in Managua invited the emblematic Mexican feminist and prolific writer Marcela Lagarde to give a series of conferences. She also used the visit to present her 2013 book El feminism en mi vida (Feminism in my life) in Managua. In her first talk at the UCA she referred to the issue of families and how they should be spaces for building human rights based on the dignity, freedom and equality of all its members. She also highlighted the shocking statistic that in the past 10 years 87% of the reports produced by Nicaragua’s Institute of Legal Medicine experts were on young and adolescent females under 18 years old who had been sexually abused, and that 92% of those cases had occurred within the family, committed by a family member.

In February, the presidential office sent the National Assembly a bill to declare Blanca Aráuz, Augusto Sandino’s wife, a national heroine, for some reason requesting fast-track approval. The bill states that Aráuz “is one of those women who are an example for Nicaraguans, as by her heroic actions she contributed to the defense of national sovereignty and laid the foundations for the conquest of spaces denied to women.” Aráuz, “la telegrafista de San Rafael,” as the famous song of the eighties recalls, played a key role in the communications that were so strategic to Sandino’s army in its war against the
US Marines. Without denying her merits, historian Dora María Téllez and other national historians commented that Teresa Villatoro, Sandino’s lover, had even more reason to be named a heroine because she took up arms and fought at his side.

The Catholic hierarchy has announced that relics of Pope John Paul II will soon arrive in Nicaragua to be venerated, among them portions of his blood and the towels he used to dry himself on his two visits to Nicaragua (1983 and 1997).

Eighteen Leatherback turtle nests are currently being protected on Nicaragua's Pacific coast Veracruz de Acayo beach. Each nest holds an average of 60 eggs. Most years only two to three Leatherbacks come back to lay their eggs between September and February on that beach.

Leatherbacks are the world's largest sea turtles, weighing up to 2,000 pounds and growing to two meters in length. Their natural life span is 130-150 years but they are among the most endangered species of sea turtle because they easily become entangled in fishing nets.

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) has been working for 12 years to protect their nests at Veracruz de Acayo, part of the Chacocente nature reserve in the department of Carazo, and at Salamina beach in Villa El Carmen in the department of Managua. Leatherbacks lay their eggs in solitary nests which are more vulnerable to poachers than other endangered sea turtles. FFI, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA), has created a nursery to which only scientists have access as an influx of tourists would further affect the nesting grounds.

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