Three weeks ago, a Chinese delegation representing the proposed Nicaraguan Canal came to Ometepe Island. They measured land south of our new airport in La Paloma, including Punta Jesus Maria, a sacred and lovely point of land, which served as an indigenous trading port thousands of years ago, and now, is a must-see tourism locality.
Wang Jing has complete sovereignty and power to exercise dominion over all areas along the proposed canal route. He does not have to ask permission of any mayor, the expropriation of land is at his whim, and he will not have to pay taxes.
The course of the proposed Nicaraguan canal is becoming more confusing daily, as complete official secrecy surrounds Nicaragua like a black cloud. Speculation abounds, protests are held weekly, and rumors are rampant. We know nothing except for what we see. That being…delegations of Chinese accompanied by Nicaraguan military, silently measuring land along the proposed route.
My thoughts are that the land measured by the Chinese delegation would make beautiful resorts, competing with the best in the world. Resorts that could entice potential investors for the money needed to build the 40 or 50 billion dollar canal. If work is to start this December, what will be completed first…the canal or resorts?
It’s not the first time this carefully planned strategy has been used to entice potential investors. In the early 1900’s the first director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, decided that Yosemite National Park needed a first class hotel. He was a master politician and recognized the need for a magnificent hotel in the fledgling park because he understood that the rich and powerful held the keys to obtaining funding.
His goals were lofty and brilliant. Mr. Mather wanted to protect the park from scrupulous businessmen ready to exploit the land, not protect and preserve the fragile environment. He also understood that getting the rich and powerful to visit Yosemite was the drawing card to obtaining the support, protection, and funding for the National Park system.
Today the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park is a major attraction to visitors as they explore the unique relationship of architecture and nature. Architecture in Yosemite National Park.
I intensely dislike the feeling of helplessness. If this is a done deal, which I suspect it is, we have very little control over what will happen in Nicaragua. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I honestly don’t know what else to do.
An Open Letter to the Chinese
Dear Honorable Mr. Wang Jing;
As time passes on the unique and sacred UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Ometepe Island, we are concerned about the exploitation of the Nicaraguan protected lands and indigenous people. We must continue to have faith that you will make a concerted effort to protect and preserve their special island of peace.
Yet, because of lack of communication, we worry that the Nicaraguan home to thousands of unique animals, plants, and ancient artifacts will become a mystery of the past. Will their ancient artifacts be unearthed and crushed by rapidly and carelessly moving bulldozers? Already their graceful birds have taken flight because of the construction of the La Paloma airport. What is to become of their unique species of plants and animals?
The indigenous people have survived raids of Spanish conquistadors, many forced to move entire villages inland to protect their people. What will become of the people forced to move off their lands, which have been passed down through generations?
You can certainly understand their apprehension. We would like to request more visibility and openness concerning your intentions. We are pleading for your help and cooperation.
If your intentions are to build a mega-tourist resort in La Paloma to entice potential investors, please, take it in your heart to consider the implications for Ometepe Island. Great ideas simmer slowly and carefully. Look at other projects developed to entice the assistance of the rich and powerful, such as the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.
The Nicaraguan people are creative, open, generous, and willing to help make your dreams of an Inter-oceanic Canal possible. Yet, it involves careful planning and cooperation with the indigenous people who have a right to know what is going to happen to their homeland.
Thank you for your cooperation in this very important matter. We will continue to have faith that you will make responsible decisions in the best interest of the Nicaraguan people and their fragile environment.