Bianca Jagger Protests in Nicaragua with Farmers against Canal Project

Rural leader Francisca Ramirez and human rights activist Bianca Jagger,headed up the march in La Fonseca, Nueva Guinea on Tuesday August 15th, in protest against the building of an inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua and the law that makes it possible. Photo: laprensa/EFE

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguan-US pacifist Bianca Jagger participated in a march on Tuesday with hundreds of peasants in southern Nicaragua seeking to stop construction of an inter-oceanic canal and repeal the law that endangers the country’s sovereignty, reported dpa news.

The 72-year-old actress and human rights activist, who has asked the Nicaraguan government to “immediately suspend” the mega project, traveled to the rural community of La Fonseca, 220 miles southeast of Managua, along with other canal opponents and human rights activists.

Carrying the blue and white flag of Nicaragua and banners with slogans like “No al canal”, the large peasant march traveled the town without incident, surrounded by police and riot troops sent from the capital.

The protest was the 91st made since 2013 and was made despite the police preventing the passage of several trucks that were headed to La Fonseca, Mónica López, environmental lawyer of the anti-canal movement told dpa.

Jagger led the demonstration marching behind a huge Nicaraguan flag. Also attending the protest was Francisca Ramírez, the leading figure of the anti-canal movement, and dissident Sandinista leader Ana Vijil, among others.

La Fonseca is a village to the south of the department of New Guinea, where thousands of peasants have staged protests against the canal because they fear being expropriated under Law 840, whose repeal they demand of the government and parliament.

The protests, many of which have been repressed by the police, began in 2013, after President Daniel Ortega granted a 100-year concession to the Chinese consortium HKND to build the inter-oceanic route. It was passed by the National Assembly, controlled by Ortega’s FSLN party, without any public discussion.

Last week Amnesty International and Bianca Jagger presented the study “Danger: Rights for Sale” in Managua, which ensures that the Grand Canal will be an “environmental crime” and will affect the rights to property and freedom of thousands of Nicaraguan farm families.

In recent days, Jagger toured different rural areas of Nicaragua that would be affected by the construction of the canal route, to express her support to the peasants who she said maintain a “peaceful resistance” against the project.

Law 840 authorizes the State to carry out massive expropriations, confiscation, forced lease or donation of land anywhere in the country as desired by HKND, headed by the Chinese magnate Wang Jing. The legislature, dominated by the ruling Sandinista Front, has rejected several initiatives to repeal it.

Although not yet under construction, the initial project is valued at 50 billion dollars and includes the construction of two airports, two ports, an oil pipeline, free trade zones, factories and tourist centers in southern Nicaragua.