MANAGUA, January 11th, 2016 (EFE) Indigenous authorities of the Rama-Kriol Territorial Government complain they are under pressure to give the interoceanic canal project their approval.
The indigenous leaders say they are being pressured to sign “a document giving the free, previous and informed consent of the Indian people…for the megaproject to be carried out on their territory,” according to a public complaint announced by the Legal Assistance Center for Indigenous Peoples.
The state-run Nicaraguan Grand Interoceanic Canal Commission seeks to acquire some 263 sq. kilometers (102 sq. miles) of the Rama-Kriol indigenous territories.
The indigenous governors say that Nicaraguan laws protect their territory from any kind of divisions or its possible disappearance.
Indigenous authorities asked President Daniel Ortega, who legalized their territory between 2000-2010, “to stop this violation of human rights and constitutional guarantees.”
They also expressed their fear of being “taken” to the capital, Managua, “to make them sign the document there.”
The project entails construction of an interoceanic waterway that will be 276 kilometers (171 miles) long, up to 520 meters (1,700 feet) wide and 30 meters (98 feet) deep, link Nicaragua’s Pacific and Caribbean (Atlantic) coasts and serve as a rival to the Panama Canal.
The concession holder, China’s HKND Group, has said that a maximum of 6,800 families (27,000 people) will be relocated to make way for the canal construction, which would take five years from the day it gets underway, scheduled for late 2016.
Additional editing by ICR News.