Nicaragua: “We’ll never rest until the Canal Law is repealed”

Farmers marched in the town of La Fonseca despite police repression

Bianca Jagger: “Ortega is endangering the sovereignty of our people. You, the rural residents, are the bravest ones.”

Bianca Jagger (c) alongside Francisca Ramirez in the latest farmers march against the Nicaragua Canal Law. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial


By Maynor Salazar / Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Jose Perez Flores arrived in the municipality of La Fonseca from his community of El Limon at 9:50 am. Impatient to participate in this, the 91st march against the construction of the Inter-Oceanic Canal, he asked the others why the activity wasn’t getting underway; although he had been told it would start at 10 in the morning. The answer came over the loudspeaker from another farmer, advising that police officials stationed at the command post in El Nispero, on the border of the department of Nueva Guinea, had detained two trucks carrying farmers from El Tule.

The officials were telling the truck drivers that if they didn’t return to their locality but continued transporting people to La Fonseca the police would suspend their drivers’ licenses.  In order to avoid causing problems for these truck drivers, the farmers then decided to walk the approximately 6.25 miles to Nueva Guinea and from there an additional 17-18 miles to the town of La Fonseca where hundreds of people were waiting to march against the canal law which threatens the expropriation of their properties.

Francisca Ramirez, leader of the Farmers’ Movement, accompanied by the media and human rights advocate Bianca Jagger, decided to rescue the other farmers. They headed out from La Fonseca towards Nueva Guinea, to pick up the citizens that were coming on foot.

Nevertheless, the Police in Nueva Guinea eventually let one of the trucks coming from El Tule pass, and escorted it for some moments.

“Our brothers and sisters are on their way to La Fonseca, the police couldn’t hold them back,” proclaimed the victorious voice from the loudspeakers.

A rural celebration

March #91 for the repeal of Law 840 – the canal law – eventually began at 1:30 pm, some three and a half hours late.  Hundreds of rural residents from the different communities around Nueva Guinea, El Tule, Rio San Juan and Waspan in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region, came together at La Fonseca to participate in the mobilization.

The rural residents marched down the main streets of the town. Some, who had been taking a break in the area’s taverns, came out to join their fellow citizens. Others, who had been watching television in their houses, joined the march as it passed by their homes.

Fausto Sosa, a native of the community of San Pablo, stated that he was participating in the march because he didn’t want to lose the land he had inherited from his parents. He declared that the concession given to Chinese magnate Wang Jing for the construction of an Inter-Oceanic Canal should be annulled, since it doesn’t have the support of the Nicaraguan people.

“I’m 73, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This business of wanting to take the land away from the farmers, we’ve seen it only with this government. We produce the food, the Malanga root, the yucca. What we need is for Daniel Ortega to repeal that law,” Sosa affirmed.

Jose Rodriguez from La Fonseca assured that the repression from the National Police only added to the existing insecurity of the Nicaraguan farm population, since they didn’t know if at some moment, through the use of force, the government authorities could try to remove them from their properties.

“We will never rest until that Law is repealed by the government. I work for the State, and obey the law, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to let them do this type of thing,” Rodriguez declared. He doesn’t understand why – if President Ortega claims to have so much support – they don’t let the farmers march in peace.

The march finalized around 3:30 in the afternoon. On an improvised stage, adorned with fruit and other products of the farmers who work these lands, Francisca Ramirez of the Farmers’ Movement and Bianca Jagger, human rights advocate, addressed the citizens who accompanied the march.

“I want to thank all the people who supported us today – the journalists and the people from all the communities. The march was a success because four years later, the people haven’t tired of demonstrating. The government is afraid of the people’s unity and we’re going to continue holding more marches until they repeal the canal law,” stated Ramirez.

During her turn on stage, Bianca Jagger reiterated her support for the farm movement’s struggle. She recognized that Ramirez had asked her to be there at the march and affirmed that Daniel Ortega’s actions constitute a violation of the fundamental rights and a threat to the natural resources.

“I’m here with you because I believe that we can make this project collapse. I’m here because Daniel Ortega is endangering the sovereignty of our people and because you the farmers are the bravest ones,” Jagger concluded.

After the speeches, Perez Flores, the farmer who had come from the community of El Limon in the area around Nueva Guinea, greeted the other citizens who participated in the march. He declared that he was very pleased with the activity and affirmed that he would continue participating in the mobilizations, just as he’s done in previous years.

“We’re not going to let that Chinese guy, or President Ortega, take away from us what’s ours,” the farmer expressed.