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Protesters: Interoceanic Canal Puts Chinese before Nicaraguans

By: PanAm Post Staff - Sep 18, 2014, 10:58 am

EspañolThe construction of the new interoceanic canal in Nicaragua has raised concerns for many inhabitants of the Santo Domingo Piche, Potosí, and Tolesmayda communities in the department of Rivas.

Over 100 protesters have gathered in the streets in these communities on consecutive days, shouting slogans like “Chinese get out.” Residents are primarily worried about the expropriation and sale of their property, as well as the ecological impact of the construction on Lake Nicaragua.

“Nicaraguans feel their rights are being violated when [the Chinese workers] go into their homes to measure rooms without authorization. They fear they will lose their homes. They also need safety,” said Octavio Ortega, head of the Foundation of Municipalities of Rivas, who was cited by the police for allegedly inciting violence.

Ortega stated that many residents in the area have relayed to him their anxieties over the census that the HKND Group, the Chinese concessionary building the canal, is carrying out throughout the area near the projected route.

According to the company’s public consultations overview report, Nicaraguans showed interest in “how private property would be affected, the planned processes for buying and selling land, and concerns around land and property titles, as well as the expropriation of land for the construction of the Project.”

The report also states local residents were concerned about the “potential impacts to wild flora and fauna, including some specific species such as sea turtles on the Caribbean coast and bull sharks in the lake.” The report goes on to say that several questions were raised regarding “whether fishermen will still be able to fish in the lake and other areas along the canal, and what impacts the Project could have on species diversity.”

The protesters at the demonstration were reportedly mostly supporters of President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista Front. One protester told La Prensa he felt the Nicaraguan government was “giving preference to the Chinese and putting Nicaraguans aside.”

Until now, local authorities have not yet met with protest leaders.

Source: La Prensa.