Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 421 | Agosto 2016



Nicaragua briets


CENIDH has been receiving charges of arbitrary acts committed by Nicaraguan police against the peasant population of Rancho Grande, a municipality that late last year successfully fought off a mining company that wanted to engage in open-pit gold mining there. Most recently, Nicaraguan Special Forces detained a father and two sons from Rancho Grande’s community of Caño Blanco in early July. They were accused of having written the following message on a board that appeared in the community: “Long live democracy, long live liberty. If it is true that there is a death penalty for those who speak of liberty and democracy, there should also be a death penalty for communist dictators. It is prohibited to remove this sign, as its price is blood. Teachers and health agents beware.”
The three were handcuffed and made to walk for more than two hours to Kuskawás under a rain of insults. From there they were transferred to the Rancho Grande police unit. After 24 hours of interrogation and handwriting tests, they were freed, but had to endure an hour-long pro-government propaganda talk by the police station’s chief. Community pressure and support from Rancho Grande’s priest, Pablo Espinoza, were determinant in the release of the three. Simón González, the father, who is a Delegate of the Word of God, said upon being freed: “Do we no longer have the right to an opinion? The only thing we ask for is freedom. We aren’t delinquents; we are honorable peasants.”

The Women’s Movement of Las Segovias demonstrated in Ocotal on July 13 under the slogan “We women aren’t going to the elections in these conditions.” The Manifesto they read during the protest says, among other things: “When we learned we had rights they took them away from us. We don’t want favors; we want rights. And we have the right to a good education, good health, a decent hospital, a decent place to live, land and work. These are not favors for which we must be grateful; they are rights we deserve and claim…. Nicaragua is not the safe country they say it is. It is not safe for women or girls. There is a lot of violence; violence that kills women. And there is also a lot of sexual harassment; harassment that provokes rape, forced pregnancy and a lot of suffering among our girls…. Things have become even more difficult now.
“After several electoral frauds the electoral path has been closed, political pluralism has disappeared and they have confiscated our right to elect who governs us. If they have closed the electoral path to us, if we know the armed path is not the way, we understand that the civic path, the peaceful path, the people’s path, the path of resistance and rebellion is indeed the way.”


For some months the Masaya Volcano’s soil has been changing due to pressure from the gasses emanating from its interior and the magma its crater contains. Experts consider it normal, an expression of the natural and cyclical process of this particular volcano. The movements and the deformation have produced a spectacular moving lake of lava that can be seen from the rim of the crater, increasing tourist interest in this site, which has always been very popular. There is now a long line of vehicles up the hill to the crater’s edge every night to see the boiling lava, even though the entrance fee is over ten times the daytime price. “It is a spectacle that can only be seen in three volcanoes in the world, which have lava lakes almost permanently,” said Nicaraguan naturalist and environmental scientist Jaime Incer Barquero, “the Kilauea in Hawaii, the Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Masaya Volcano here in Nicaragua.” National Geographic filmmaker Sam Cossman and former astronaut Scott Parazinsky arrived in Nicaragua on July 24 to make an exclusive film repeling dpwm into the crater to capture the closest possible images of the lava lake.


Managua’s Central American University held an important series of conferences in mid-July titled “Bosawás and the Peruvian Amazon: comparison of two cases of tropical Latin American ecosystems,” both of which are seriously threatened. It was reported in the event that due to illegal trafficking in lumber, the advance of the agricultural frontier and cattle ranching, disasters facilitated by official indolence and greed, 70% of the forest cover of the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve’s buffer zone and 30% of the cover in its nucleus have already been lost. This reserve, covering some 8,100 square kilometers, is Central America’s lung, just as the Amazon acts as the lungs of the Americas and the world. Environmentalist Jaime Incer Barquero told the gathering that “even speaking optimistically, there will be no Bosawás within 15 years.” Conference participant Eduard Müller, holder of the UNESCO Chair for Biosphere Reserves and Natural and Mixed World Heritage Sites, warned that Central America as a whole has already lost 52% of its biodiversity, adding that “we don’t even know what we are losing. An entire ecosystem is being cut down. Bosawás isn’t a tree, or a bird, it is the future life of Central America, a platform of salvation to help us deal with planetary change.”


The bodies of 10 migrants of African or perhaps Haitian origin appeared on the coasts of Lake Cocibolca in early August. It is assumed that these individuals—one of whom was a pregnant woman—were among the around 2,000 migrants stranded in Costa Rica for weeks because the Nicaraguan government has closed its borders so they cannot continue to the United States. They had apparently attempted to sneak across the border and were swept into the lake and drowned when crossing the mouth of the rain-swollen Sapoá River. Not a single word about this tragedy has appeared in the official media. Other migrants continue to cross Nicaraguan territory by land routes. So far in 2016 the Army of Nicaragua has detained 2,507 people trying to make it to the United States.


On July 6, President Ortega extended National Police Director Aminta Granera’s term in her post for the second time, even though she should have concluded her five-year mandate and stepped down in 2011. Days later, during the country’s celebration of National Flag Day, police commissioners, commanders and agents could be seen waving governing party flags together with the national flag in events held in different National Police branches. That day Granera said “It is precisely that red and black flag, which was waved everywhere on that victorious July 19, as it waves today all over Nicaragua, that rescued and returned honor to our national symbols.” Never since the revolutionary 1980s had the party loyalty of the police been expressed so openly.


According to information from Brazil, not Nicaragua, the concession to construct the Tumarín hydroelectric project, conceived in 2009 and postponed more than nine times, was bought in a discretionary negotiation with the government’s trademark secrecy for $44.2 million by the Nicaraguan State’s National Electricity Company (ENEL) and the private Spanish energy distribution company Disnorte-Dissur, which is close to the presidential power. The original owners were the Brazilian state company Electrobras and Brazilian private company Queiroz Galvao, each of which owned 45% of the shares, with the Nicaraguan State holding the other 10%. No one in the Ortega government informed Nicaragua’s business allies, who questioned the transaction upon discovering it, complaining that it had not been subjected to bidding and that no one knows where the money for the purchase came from. There were also questions as to whether the Brazilian companies have been sanctioned for their incompliance with the project’s development despite the generous conditions they were given repeatedly over those years and whether they had compensated the Nicaraguan State.

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