Several years ago, the Nicaraguan government entered into negotiations with two business consortiums, the Interoceanic Canal of Nicaragua (CINN), and the Intermodal Global Transport Service (Sit/Global), for the construction of a train that will transport containers of merchandise from coast to coast across the country. The project is known as the Dry Canal, and the consortiums plan to construct part of its infrastructure on lands traditionally occupied by the ethnic community of Monkey Point and by the indigenous Rama people.
In July 1999, the President of the Republic introduced to the National Assembly a proposal containing the contract for concession, which had already been negotiated between the Nicaraguan government and CINN in spite of the fact that it would violate the constitutional rights of the indigenous communities, because they had not been consulted or taken into account in the negotiations between the State, Sit/Global, and CINN.
With the legal assistance of CALPI, the Monkey Point and Rama communities filed a lawsuit against the President of Nicaragua and the Attorney General, who would sign the contract if approved by the National Assembly. The communities are demanding to be consulted and informed about the project. The lawsuit is still being studied by the Supreme Court of Justice since January 2001, in spite of being presented in November of 2000. In July 2001, CALPI assisted the indigenous leaders to filed a lawsuit of unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court of Nicaragua against the President of Nicaragua and the Presidente of The National Assembly for not having consulted the communities in the process of granting concessions to the businesses.
Throughout the process CALPI has been working with the Monkey Point and Rama communities to protect their rights to their ancestral communal lands, which are threatened by the Dry Canal project.
The Vogel Case
In February of 2000 the community at Monkey Point, with the help of CALPI, presented a lawsuit before the District Civil Judge of Bluefields against the individuals John Vogel, Percy Spencer, and Gary Loff, for the seizure of three hundred manzanas of land and the occupation of this land by armed men. A court order was granted, and since then, the men have left, Mr. Vogel has stopped his activities of planting and construction in the area, and peace has returned to the community.The Punta de Aguila Case
In March 2001 on behalf of indigenous leaders, CALPI obtained a condemnation against Peter Tsokos for the invasion of land and deforestation in the small Rama community of Punta de Aguila/ Cane Creek. CALPI presented charges to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA). After presenting the charges, CALPI accompanied the indigenous leaders to the site and proved to the authorities that the cuttings and burnings occurred on the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve. Because CALPI invited local radio and TV stations to the inspection, Bluefields residents were able to see the cutting and burning the forest live on local cable. The news received national and international attention and MARENA fined Tsokos.Pearl Cays Case
In September 2000, Mr. William McCoy, a member of an environmental NGO that carries out the protection, monitoring, and control of the endangered Carey Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), was imprisioned. While on his daily rounds of the Pearl Cays, he found nest #20, of the 105 that he watches, with 120 eggs about to hatch, destroyed on the beach. Upon seeing the destruction he approached the nest and asked a member of the National Police, who guards the Cay, who had removed the eggs from the nest. At that moment Mr. Tsokos ordered him to leave the beach. That same afternoon, the Pearl Lagoon Police arrested Mr. McCoy for death threats, trespassing, and disturbing private property.return to top
territory lies within the protected areas of Cerro Silva,
and Punta Gorda, and forms part of the Atlantic Biological Corridor,
are all government projects of indigenous and environmental protection.
The advance of non- indigenous settlers on to lands traditionally
by the Rama people has accelerated since the government announced the
of the Dry Canal; the settlers arrive armed, destroy harvests, and
the indigenous people. In June of 2000, the Supreme Court of Nicaragua
decided in favor of Francisco Walter Rocha, a Rama leader,
the Nicaraguan Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) a legal
declaring unconstitutional that the INRA sent people to seize
land inside Rama territory. CALPI assisted the Rama leadr in that case
and continues working with indigenous leaders and regional and national
institutions to protect the rights of the Rama people to their
We have requested support for the community members, particularly the Rama, in pressing charges before the National Police and the District criminal Judge of Bluefields. CALPI has also collaborated with the leaders of Monkey Point to bring the National Volunteer Police Force to the area; CALPI have obtained a ommunication radio and also installed 3 others, donated by Nicaraguan Network to the Rama and Monkey Point communities. Because the safety of the citizens of the area is a concern, all these actions are being carried out simultaneously with our legal work protecting the Rama territory by CALPI and other local, national and international NGOs.
Through demarcation these communities seek to establish borders and specific actions for the protection of their territory; however, the communities must demarcate their own territory because the State has not demonstrated the political will to do it, and, because of the urgent threats of seizure of their land, there is no time to lose.
The process of demarcation will include at least the following steps:
and leadership strengthening within the communities of Monkey Point and
Rama, as well as its Commission of Support;
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and designed by Álvaro Vergara of CALPI.