Nicaragua Anti-Canal Leader Gets Protection

Francisca Ramirez Photo: laprensa.com.ni

HAVANA TIMES – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) gave protection to Nicaraguan rural leader Francisca Ramirez, leader of the protests against the construction of the interoceanic canal, dpa news agency reports.

“This is an act of justice to Francisca as an advocate of human rights, to her family and to farmers” who oppose the canal, said Monica Lopez Baltodano, the lawyer at the National Council in Defense of Our Lake, Land, and Sovereignty, founded by Ramirez.

Calling on Resolution 33/2017, the IACHR has granted protective measures to Ramirez for being subjected to threats, harassment and violence, and has asked the Nicaraguan government to prepare a report about the actions it has taken to investigate her complaints.

Francisca Ramirez, a resident from the town La Fonseca, in Nicaragua’s southern region, has received death threats and was arrested by the Police on several occasions in 2014, 2015 and 2016, after organizing protests against the mega interoceanic canal project.

Last July, the anti-canal movement denounced the Nicaraguan Government to the IACHR so as to make it revoke Law 840, which granted the controversial concessions made to a Chinese consortium in 2013. The Commission has yet to respond to this complaint.

According to Monica Lopez, the protective measures that the IACHR has announced are also “recognition of the countless number of abuses that the rural movement has suffered” in its struggle against “the outrage that is the canal concession.”

“It’s great support for the movement and for farmers. I believe that (these actions) were necessary because there are so many things that the Nicaraguan Government and State have been trampling over us with,” Francisca Ramirez commented to local newspaper “La Prensa”.

Law 840 authorizes the State to take land under the form of expropiation, seizures, leases or granting lands and pay a price far below market value. Parliament, which is controlled by the ruling Frente Sandinista party, has rejected several citizen-led initiatives seeking to revoke this law since 2013.

  • John Perry

    Why does Francisca Ramirez need protection when the people she leads have (by their own admission) held over 90 protests against the canal? How many of the people who take part in these protests are landowners affected by the canal? Why are the protests so vehement when work on the canal has barely started? How does such a small group manage to get the support of big international organisations and personalities like Bianca Jagger, when the majority of public opinion in Nicaragua is still strongly in favour of the canal? Who pays for the transport and others costs when they hold demonstrations? Why does Ramirez say ‘the only response [from the government] we have had is the bullet’ when she knows that the government has held a large number of public consultations and even offered her face-to-face negotiations? Above all, why do these protests continue to be reported as if it is the protesters that are persecuted, whereas in (for example) the protest in El Tule, when people blocked the road and police moved in to clear the blockage, 15 police were injured (one critically) when they were attacked by firearms and machetes weilded by protesters?