Who We Are
What We Do
Current Projects
Legal Documents
International Laws
Violence Against CALPI




Current Projects:

The Dry Canal
Land Conflicts
The Advance of the Agricultural Frontier
Cases of Violence
The Dry Canal:
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 Dry Canal will cross the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast. 
Monkey Point, the site of the Atlantic port and the start of the railroad.
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Land Conflicts:

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.

However, Mr. Tsokos is maintaining a presence on the property and is seeking permission from MARENA to construct another house; also, members of the community informed CALPI that Tsokos’ men are still sawing wood and are attempting to take possession of 80 manzanas of land of the Rama community. CALPI again contacted the Attorney General for Environmental Issues in order to continue pressing charges before MARENA; CALPI also sent a protest to the Minister of MARENA asking him to revoke the decision.

Ramas standing where Tsoko's men cut trees
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.

The arrest of Mr. McCoy is not an isolated incident; several local fishermen seeking refuge on the islands have been forced off the island by Mr. Tsokos and his armed guards.

Some time ago Mr. Tsokos bought property titles to 7 of the 18 Pearl Cays from the decendents of the people who recieved the titles but had never occupied them. Mr. Tsokos is a businessman who is promoting the resale of the cays through a website (www.tropical-islands.com), with prices up to US $490,000.00 each.

The Pearl Cays have historically been used by fishermen from the indigenous and ethnic communities of Pearl Lagoon. However, to prevent the use and enjoyment of the cays by the indigenous people, Mr. Tsokos guards them with members of the National Police, who are acting like a private police force and intimidating the fishermen and community members. The residents of the area use fish near the cays and use them as a place of refuge or rest, and supply themselves with drinking water.

The life and culture of the Pearl Lagoon communities hav traditionally been tied to the ecosystems of the cays and depend on the fish and other natural resources in the area. These cays are the traditional communal property of these communities, and are protected by articles 5, 89, and 180 of the  Nicaraguan Constitution, which recognize the rights of the indigenous and ethnic communities of the Atrlantic Coast to the use, enjoyment, and benefit of their communal property. In 1987, lands occupied by indigenous people were removed from the market. They cannot legally be sold, which makes the sale of the cays to Mr. Tsokos a violation of these laws, and therefore void. CALPI, in coordination with the Indian Law Resource Center, assists Pearl Lagoon residents in defending their rights to land and natural resources.

Presentation on the Pearl Cays Situation

One of the Pearl Cays.
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The Advance of the Agricultural Frontier:

The Rama territory lies within the protected areas of Cerro Silva, Indio-Maíz, and Punta Gorda, and forms part of the Atlantic Biological Corridor, which are all government projects of indigenous and environmental protection. The advance of non- indigenous settlers on to lands traditionally occupied by the Rama people has accelerated since the government announced the construction of the Dry Canal; the settlers arrive armed, destroy harvests, and threaten the indigenous people. In June of 2000, the Supreme Court of Nicaragua decided in favor of  Francisco Walter Rocha, a Rama leader, and against the Nicaraguan Institute of Agrarian Reform  (INRA) a legal action declaring unconstitutional that the INRA sent people to seize indigenous 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 traditional territory.

Deforestation on the agricultural frontier.
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Cases of Violence:
Since November of 2000 the Rama territory has been threatened by bandits who have committed various robberies and kidnappings, injured members of the community, and raped some women. Community members associate these actions with the media attention to construction of the Dry Canal. In April 2001, CALPI invited and accompanied the Procurators of Indigenous and Womens’ Rights to carry out an on- site visit.

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.

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CALPI works with other NGOs and institutions to promote the demarcation of indigenous territory. The demarcation of the Rama territory is urgently needed to document, and therefore defend, the communities' traditional and historical posession of the territory. Governmental actions have already granted concessions, particularly to lands with economic value; this as well as the advance of the agricultural frontier on to indigenous lands constitute danger to the land for these communities.

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:

1. Institutional and leadership strengthening within the communities of Monkey Point and Rama, as well as its Commission of Support;
2. Mapping of the traditional and current use of land within the Rama territory;
3. Definition of the limits of the territory with those of other communities through surveying;
4. Begin negotiation processes with other communities in the case of overlaps of the territories;
5. The creation of an inventory of the natural resources in the Rama territory is fundamental to this study;
6. Management plan of the marine and forest resources in coordination with the management plans of the protected areas and of the ABC (Atlantic Biological Corridor), which overlap the territory.

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