Target: Deputy Jenny Azucena Martinez Gomez, President of the Comission of Infrastructure and Public Services in the Nicaraguan General Assembly
Goal: Commission independent environmental impact reports regarding destructive canal project
A Nicaraguan Canal is in the earliest stages of construction despite no input from the citizens. It is likely a lucrative boondoggle for President Ortega as he struggles to maintain almost complete control of the second poorest nation in Latin America. However, the Nicaraguan people are being left out of all negotiations and their autonomy has been essentially sold to Chinese investors. Demand that the Deputies in Nicaragua’s General Assembly stand up for their citizens and land by halting the project for transparent dialogue on its risks and benefits.
Chinese telecom billionaire Wang Jing won the bid for the canal project, which includes a 50-year-long concession on the canal’s operation, exemption from local taxes and commercial regulations, as well as hiring and land-expropriating powers during construction.
On December 22nd, Jing’s Hong Kong-based firm Hong Kong Nicaragua Development (HKND) began construction on the $50 billion project. Ground was broken despite the fact that the government-ordered environmental study won’t be released until April, no independent study has been commissioned, the HKND study has not been made public, and the Nicaraguan people have all but been evaded as no public referendum has been organized.
Canal construction is inherently efficient at destroying and fragmenting ecosystems and migration patterns. When the Panama Canal was built, over 150 square miles of formerly unbroken forest were drowned, tens of thousands of villagers displaced, and the relationships of aquatic and terrestrial species were forever altered. HKND plans to devastate some 400,000 acres of rainforest and wetlands and disrupt Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) by dredging about 64 miles of the shallow lakebed to allow the transit of the biggest cargo ships.
Nicaraguans have the right to both governmental and independent studies on the impact of this canal as well as the right to vote on it. By signing below you can tell the President of the Commission on Infrastructure and Public Services that her constituents deserve a voice in the matter.
Dear Srta Martinez Gomez,
I am concerned that the Nicaraguan people in the path of the proposed HKND Canal project have not been adequately notified nor has the environmental impact of such a mega-project been properly undertaken. I am writing today to urge you to garner support in the General Assembly for a referendum on the project.
Economic arguments can be made on the positive effects for local businesses and transnational companies, and even on the premise of conserving fuel in exchange for destroying hundreds of square miles of carbon-sequestering rainforests and wetlands. Nevertheless, the tens of thousand of people potentially affected by the canal project have the right to decide its fate.
In fact, without approval the project is in violation of the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and disregards several of your contitutional mandates like indigenous peoples’ right to autonomy and self-determination, and the right to collective ownership of communal and indivisible lands.
Further, the Panama Canal expansion project, approved by voters, is set to be completed by 2016. You and your fellow deputies must scrutinize the HKND project and determine if the commercial benefits would outweigh the destruction and disruption of your native ecosystems. I politely demand that you at least present the issue to the people of Nicaragua.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Quedel via Wikimedia Commons