This week, the Government of Nicaragua brought to Managua several members of the Rama-Kriol Territorial Government (GTR-K) in the Municipality of Bluefields, Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS), to sign a supposed agreement for the construction of an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua. This was done without having carried out a consultation process in accordance with the minimum standards of good faith required under national and international law.
For example, the representative of the President of the Republic in the RACCS attempted to trick the vice president of the Monkey Point Communal Government, one of the nine communities of the Rama-Kriol Territory, to travel to Managua by telling her that the President of Monkey Point was already there awaiting her. When she discovered that this was false, she refused to go despite being pressured. Other communal leaders also refused to travel despite the Nicaraguan government’s offers of generous stipends and plane tickets.
Communal leaders, especially those from the communities of Monkey Point, Wiringkay, and Bangkukuk Taik, which are the most affected by the plans for the construction of canal infrastructure, have been denouncing the lack of a consultation process in accordance with national and international standards as required in these cases since January 2014. They have also denounced the violation of the bylaws of the Rama-Kriol Territory and of resolutions approved by the Territorial Assembly, the territory’s highest authority according to Law 445.
Over the course of two and a half years, national and regional government officials have visited the Rama and Kriol communities on two occasions in order to disseminate propaganda and promises of a canal that will deliver all kinds of benefits.
Despite this, the State has failed to inform the communities of Monkey Point and Bangkukuk Taik that both will be directly impacted and that, according to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) sponsored by the concessionaire (HKND) and approved by the State of Nicaragua, the Rama community of Bangkukuk will be displaced from its traditional territory, which was titled by the State in 2009, despite the community members being the last speakers of the Rama language.
During a session of the GTR-K held two weeks ago, the territorial government decided by majority that it would not sign any documents due to the lack of a legal advisor and international observer throughout the entire process as ordered by the Territorial Assembly of the Rama-Kriol Territory in December 2013.
In accordance with the Bylaws of the GTR-K, the territorial government consists of 18 members with each of the nine communities represented. However, several of the members of the indigenous and Afro-descendant communities who were brought by the government to Managua are not members of the territorial government, and several members of the territorial government were not even informed of the trip, much less of the signing of the document published today by government-allied media.
Due to these violations, among others, of the process of free, prior, and informed consultation as required by law, leaders of the GTR-K and of the communities will file a lawsuit in the coming days against the illegal actions and will continue with their case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).