Nicaragua side-lines local communities over multi-billion dollar canal

Press Release
February 9, 2016

Nicaragua side-lines local communities over multi-billion dollar canal

Nicaragua’s reckless handling of a multi-billion dollar project that will see a canal cutting the country in two will displace tens of thousands of people putting their livelihoods at risk, said Amnesty International after leaders from three affected indigenous and afro-descendent Rama-Kriol communities presented an appeal to the country’s top court.

“The fact that Nicaragua is planning to go ahead with a mega project that will destroy the lives of many communities without even properly taking their views into consideration is outrageous,” said Erika Guevara, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“Trading on people’s basic human rights for the sake of money is not only morally questionable but also illegal. Authorities in Nicaragua must ensure they listen to those who will be most affected by the building of the canal, and take their views into account for decision making.”

The Nicaragua Canal (called Gran Canal Interoceánico) will cut across the Central American country and connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Fifty-two percent of its route will impact indigenous and afro-descendent Rama-Kriol communities, according to the appeal presented on February 5. The concession of the project has been granted to the private Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company.

Some of the communities that live in the area where the canal will be built have complained that authorities have not properly consulted with them about the impact the project will have on their livelihoods. In the appeal, indigenous and afro-descendant leaders from Rama-Kriol communities, express that state officials have pressured communities to consent to the project. Despite communities´ requests of information, to date communities have not been accurately informed of the canal’s impacts on their livelihoods, territory and culture.