Sharpening Machetes

 Our hands will not tremble when we bring out sharp machetes to protect our families, our
land, and our basic human rights. ~ The Nicaraguan people


I was going to write a post about the many uses of the machete in Nicaragua, but with recent protests and lack of transparency about the Nicaraguan Canal Project, I foresee many Nicaraguans sharpening their machetes. The comments below represent the alarming anger, mistrust, and nervousness of the Nicaraguan people.

Thousands of locals along the route have begun protesting against their impending expropriations with several demonstrations having taken place in just the last few weeks. Many of the signs they carry read: “No Chinos!” The anger has become so intense that police have begun patrolling outside of the Chinese engineers’ headquarters in the provincial city of Tola.
The Red Canal

Nicaraguan writer and Catholic priest Ernesto Cardenal this weekend blasted plans for the construction of a massive interoceanic canal, calling it a “monstrosity” that would split the country in two and irreversibly damage Lake Cocibolca, the biggest freshwater lake in Central America. The Tico Times

“We lost our fear in the 80s,” shouted one protester. “If we have to die, we have to die.” Nicaragua Dispatch

“There is going to be a massacre because we are not leaving our land, our lives, and we’ll fight for it until death.”
The Telegraph

“I would rather die than hand over my property,” march organizer Francisca Ramirez, 39, told Fusion in a phone interview from Nueva Guinea, 175 miles east of the capital. “The people living in this region are already living in extreme poverty. Where are we supposed to go if the government kicks us off our land?” Fusion

“We do not want the canal to be built. Nobody should come in here and take over our land,” said Ronald Enríquez at a march in the southern town of Potosí, where participants scuffled with police.
Tico Times

What is most disconcerting on Ometepe Island is that the Chinese have measured 8 miles of beach-front property from the western end of the new La Paloma airport including the beach property of La Paloma, Escuipulas, and Los Angeles. The map below demonstrates that this future resort is not even close to the proposed Nicaraguan Canal.

140903NicaraguaCanal03-700x364Foreign and local land owners on Ometepe Island are scrambling to protect their properties against expropriation. However, according to the U.S. Embassy, there is little that we can do to protect our properties. Their only suggestion was that if the land owners receive expropriation notices from the Commission, we should hire Nicaraguan lawyers because it is a Nicaraguan Law 840.
Ley del Gran Canal Gaceta (1) This is the law in Spanish.

We are assuming that eminent domain rules.
Presently, our personal property is not affected, however I know many domestic and foreign land owners whose property has been measured by the Chinese.

The statements below are just as alarming for domestic and foreign investors.

During the COSEP-HKND conference I had the opportunity to ask the official spokesperson if the expropriation clause referred to in the canal law would also apply to the “tourist projects” and other business ventures.
It was a timely opportunity for the Chinese company to clarify its intentions and its interpretation of a law custom-made for them. The response of Wang Jing´s representative was to keep silent under the watchful eye of “the investment promoter” Laureano Ortega Murillo, the President’s son and official business liaison with Wang Jing. A silence that is a more clear alarm bell for domestic and foreign investors. Confidencial

“The tax values of those lands are very low, and even if they pay the real market price, they would not buy elsewhere because the prices are rising,” said Azahalea Solis, an attorney advising the property owners.”I don’t know who to turn to,” said Jose Jesus Vanegas, owner of a lot along Lake Nicaragua, which is part of the canal route. “They don’t tell us anything about the price and all the people are upset.” The Guardian

I fear for Nicaragua. I fear for the basic human rights of the Nicaraguans. Will they start sharpening their machetes? What will become of our island of peace?

12 thoughts on “Sharpening Machetes

  1. I don’t know how things are in Nicaragua, but I do know this, here in Panama if you’re an extranjero (foreigner) and you get involved, in any way, in anything remotely political in nature you can, and WILL BE, deported.

    There is one bright side to this, though. In the run-up to the recent elections here when campaigners would come to my door I’d simply say, “Soy extranjero. Es prohibido para mi participar in sus vida political.” The respected that. They also liked it that I told them in Spanish, too.

  2. omg..wishing all of you the best……they built a dam here years ago that promised to be an economic stimulus for the area as well as protection from flooding……it didn’t do either. People were forced out of their homes that were in their families for generations for “fair market value”. The government raped the people here waaaay more than oil, gas and timber ever did. You cannot replace a sense of security that poor people have……that may literally be “all” they have between them and total collapse of spirit……….i hope with all my heart that this doesn’t play out as badly as it looks………it makes me want to sharpen my machete with the nica people

  3. Scary stuff. I can see the people fighting for their land and their rights, and how that could go. Like Loca Gringo said, these are their homes, and the homes of their parents and the parents before them. Every single local we talked to on your island said they had lived there all their lives.

    • Kris, my internet has been wacky for the past couple of days. But, hopefully it is fixed, now. There is an informational meeting about the canal on Saturday, then another big protest march with over 5,000 people planning on attending. I plan on attending the meeting, then I’ll record the protest march. I’m so afraid that things could get ugly here.

  4. Trouble is, it’s not just the dollar value of the land that is in question. But, this is their home, and if like here, with no real ownership of transportation people don’t venture far from home for most of their lives. So, if expropriated, they can be kicked way out of their comfort zone.

    Do be careful, Latin tempers and a cause to fight for … dangerous combination.

      • Short of becoming involved in the coming riots, not much you can do 😦 And that, you don’t want to do! Hot tempered Hispanics with machetes, recipe for disaster.

        A few weeks ago here, the Metro subway that has scheduled an expropriation of one family’s home, had a family member, about 22 years old, set fire on one of the trains. A lot of people were hurt that needn’t have been. Same situation, smaller scale.

        I feel for your peoples!

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