Nicaraguan campesinos march against Chinese canal

A 'Guatusa' for the Chinese canal?
photo: Tim Rogers

A 'Guatusa' for the Chinese canal?

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The crowd erupted in wild cheers as the caravan of cattle trucks lumbered into Managua carrying several thousand cowboys to join today’s march against a $50 billion Chinese canal that’s scheduled to break ground on Dec. 22.

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The caravan from the interior of the countryside took nearly 20 hours to arrive, and was stopped eight times by police roadblocks. Drivers’ licenses were confiscated and several people were arrested. Similar police roadblocks along choke points to the north and south of the capital succeeded in preventing hundreds of other protesters from arriving in the capital.

truck arrive

But the cowboys from the interior of the country — those living along the canal route mapped for Chinese expropriation next month — pushed past the police blockades without a second thought. It was just the first shove in what’s gearing up to be a long fight.

“Here we are — Chontales, Nueva Guinea, Rio San Juan — giving you people from Managua a lesson in how to defend your country!” yelled one muddy-booted cowboy as he jumped down from the back of the truck.

Read full story on Nicaraguan Cowboys: ‘Chinese go home, and take Ortega with you!’

  • Pepe Turcon

    Ortega is playing with fire this second time around. The first time is when during the 80’s he ordered the killing of thousand of Miskito Inadians in the Atlantic area of Nic.
    Ortega is not only stupid but also a blind imbecil. Actually I don’t have words to describe him, he is a very sick man.
    Never mind with whatever they do with the canal joke but to have dishonored these honest people well he is goin to pay very dear.
    Thing is he lost the Chavez flag and stolen cash from the Venezuelan oil and he feels totally loss and affraid as a coward he is.
    Did you know Ortega was “iniciated” into the FSLN by killing cold blood in the street an innocen your guardia from the Somoza times?
    In the end the whole Sandinista experience has been the darkest of any human and Nicaragua is a paradise and has incredible beatiful people but some are the worst of the worst and they follow Ortega. A buch of very sick people.
    Believe it or not it was Reagan who saved Nicaragua once and before him the USA by sending the Marines and eliminating Mr. Sandino. Don’t think for a sec Sandino was any good. He was a low self esteem very disfuntional sick man.
    And some still argue the USA is not a force for good in the world.
    Without the USA the world would be a whorehouse.

    • Todas Las Sangres

      Well stated.

    • Ghost of Che

      I believe you are projecting.

    • Carla Chamorro

      Amen Mr. Turcon, you are right on the money as usual!

      One last coment to today’s headlines:

      #Ortega y #Maduro se quedan comiendo mierda?
      El romance #CubaUSA los deja deja solos y sin petro$

  • Ken Morris

    I’ll wager that this statement is wrong: “It was just the first shove in what’s gearing up to be a long fight.” My bet is that this will all blow over in the twinkling of an eye. People are understandably concerned about being dislocated, and are unfortunately also understandably xenophobic, but power is power. The canal actually ain’t open to debate.

    • mthorman

      The canal may go ahead, but not as planned. Nothing ever goes as
      planned. There are unintended consequences. By not doing a very
      careful environmental assessment, the Nicaraguan government is preparing
      a great disaster for both Nicaragua and Costa Rica. As you so
      realistically point out, “power is power.” But I’m afraid the powers
      that be are blinded by those money symbols in front of their eyes.
      Nicaragua needs to take care of the needs of its people more than it
      needs to bring in foreign money. A canal might become a reality with
      real economic and social benefits in the future. The time for it is not
      now. The money now is needed for basic human services, basic
      infrastructure, and maybe a little less corruption. Chinese businessmen
      are under China’s control. And China is using Central America much as
      the USA is using Central America. Or perhaps I should say both giants
      are abusing Central America in their world power games and blinding the
      people with fancy toys and circuses.

      • Ken Morris

        I don’t disagree that there are unintended consequences or that China is using Central America (although China is also “using” much of the world, including Norway of all places, in its obvious reach for global power). However, I would quibble over a couple things and raise a question.

        The quibbles are over the “great disaster” of proceeding without an environmental assessment and being blinded by money. There actually is a responsible firm doing an environmental assessment, and although the final report won’t come until April (after construction is well underway) my guess is that the “great disasters” will be more like small ones. They’ll happen, I’m reasonably sure, but I don’t believe that the canal is proceeding with as much indifference to the environment as some environmentalist allege. With respect to the powers being blinded by money, I would counter that any blindness is attributable to power. The economics of the canal are really iffy for the investors, so I have to assume that if they are blinded by anything, its ego. However, I don’t think China cares as much about profits as it does about influence and power. Sure, it would like to make a buck, but if it loses a little while gaining influence, it really doesn’t care.

        The question is how Nicaragua is to get “the money now is needed for basic human services, basic infrastructure, and maybe a little less corruption” without some kind of economic development? I agree, a canal is hardly the first idea that would pop into my head as an economic development initiative, and cards on the table I’d prefer that Nicaragua go another way. My difficulty is in identifying the other ways it might go. Yeah, tourism adds a little something, but long term not much, but exporting agricultural products is a fast dead end. It would be great to see more different kinds of business developments, but I’m at a loss to identify what they might be. The country has lived on charity for over 30 years, and this hasn’t worked. The promise of the canal is to kick start the economy in a way that enables it to earn the money needed for all the other stuff.

        Granted, it may not succeed, and there are certain to be unintended consequences. I just wonder what viable alternatives there are.

        • gcblues

          of course you are at a loss as to what opportunities there might be. your idea of business is something that government partners with private investment. the truth is the potential in Nicaragua is just getting government out of the way. the debate ain’t over as you say either because the biggest problem with the canal is it’s lack of economic feasibility ….the defenseless people losing their property is just a sideline issue to you. once again you prove you know little about business or Nicaragua. how much time have you spent here Morris? after the land is grabbed and the canal fails what then for the people? how many businesses with 10 or more employees have you run successfully? there is opinion and then there is informed opinion. your specialty is the former. you post with words, but examination of them shows you and your ideas to be vapid, empty, useless. just another Brezhnev wanna be with government plans and social welfare. no country runs a a surplus with big government you love. each and every one is, as you hippies like to cite, is inorganic and unsustainable. personal liberty and a social structure that puts family above the state is organic. because of Nicaragua’s relatively small government the schools and public health and all the stupid programs could cease tomorrow and the money be divided among families to spend in their own interest. that would be development. government is just graft, waste and the road to serfdom.

          • randypower

            Please… Show Mr. Morris respect. Disagreement is great for healthy debate, but when you keep making it personal, I tune out.

          • gcblues

            i respect tuning out. i am sick of his socialist posts couched in inoffensive words whose meanings are destructive and whose personal knowledge and experience is vapid. i say so. however, if you do not like that, disagree in the manner you choose. no objection from me.

          • gcblues

            … and Randy, possibly you are late to this. i have read Morris posts for years. i explained this to him. they always made me sick. i never said a word. for years, i was silent. his pro-canal stance that he admits in his own words is Stalinist was the last straw. he deserves no respect. now if you wish to disrespect me for that. i will never complain. i am just sick of a guy who has virtually no Nicaraguan or practical life experience, a guy that cannot even drive a car, giving advice that is so destructive and trying to claim he has the moral high ground. i live here. i have a right to be pissed at him. you will see my responses to others are much much different. to you for example.

          • randypower

            gcblues, I totally understand and appreciate the background. I’ve been an ND “gentle reader” for years. Although I don’t live in Nica now, I grew up there and visit at least annually to see friends and be where I feel at home. One thing that frustrates me everywhere is arrogantly-expressed strong opinions when they have no basis on reality. Politics in a country like Nicaragua is extremely emotional and rarely do we see civilized exchanges so Ken’s style appeals to me, even if his positions don’t always do so. I’ve learned a lot from people with different ideas who also are willing to listen and change.

            I appreciate your perspective better now, and respect it. It sounds like you have a lot more insight and I’d rather read that. I read ND reader to know what’s going on. But this is a community and like Tim has said, sometimes we’re a little dysfunctional and that’s OK. My respect to you.

          • gcblues


          • gcblues

            … and do note the sad unanswered questions.

            “how much time have you spent here Morris? after the land is grabbed and
            the canal fails what then for the people? how many businesses with 10 or
            more employees have you run successfully?”

            i know people that are losing property here. not just gringos, but poor defenseless people getting nothing but catastro value, and the people living in concession zones for generations and are just going to be ordered out, maybe given a casita somewhere far from their family. with the land gone and the canal then failing, what do the people have? no one speaks of that sadness.

  • itaia

    I am watching this from Puerto Rico, from where I also watch other “independent” nations: Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, , Ecuador – were principally U.S-Brit-German “ops” – have prevented, or stalled, or delayed many national development projects – which the USA and Britain opposes (the German “ops” are directed from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. See wikileaks “gregor gysi”. This subversive intervention is in our times by means of ONGs (environmental, indigenous rights, peasants interests) .

  • Carlos M Alvarado

    Everybody knows that employment in Nicaragua is low, the current government is creating employment with new Projects but the enemies of Ortega about 10% of the population don’t want any changes. They have no problem seen the poor people in the streets selling cold water and food and living in squaller in the Managua neighbourhoods. The campesino situation is worse, no hospital, no roads, no employment. The campesinos are being manipulated by radio Corporacion and the daily La Prensa controlled by rich families, that openly call for war and violence now and by the rich people, as a fighting force to stop progress and then to blame the government for the poverty. During 20 years the enemies of Ortega were in power and left the country in darkness,illiterate and sold everything that was government property.

    The reality is that the majority of people of Nicaragua want jobs and development and the contras are a minority with little support in Nicaragua.

    • gcblues

      out of curiosity, what happens if 10’s of thousands of people’s land is stolen and no canal is completed?

      • Carlos M Alvarado

        Stealing the land for what? The land is degraded by the slash and burnt primitive technique used by the settlers, the forest has been destroyed already, they are red clay swamps in the middle of no where, no roads, no hospitals,no colleges, no work. The campesinos live in shacks, in rags and badly fed. Normally they died of diarrhoea or machete fights because they drink too much alcohol. El canal will be a salvation. Before the canal is even started there will be roads and railway line built plus two ports in deep water in the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Nicaragua don’t even has a proper port in any cost, what a disgrace.

        Once the negative propaganda is set aside, and knowledge of the country and region is examined, one realised that this area will only benefit from the canal. The lake has already been polluted and sedimented. Lake Managua a bit north I was practically dead until the new government started purifying the stage waters and encouraging the touristic use of the area now a popular touristic part of Managua. But the opposition always complain about anything without offering solutions or alternatives. That’s is the Nicaragua primitive that still exists but will disappear soon.

        • gcblues

          i will be sure to share your comment with the “primitives” living from the lago to the pacific. that their homes and fincas are nothing but degraded slash. whole barios in Rivas and San Jorge will be stolen, but they are primitives, the hell with them. nice.

          • gcblues

            oh…. and please respond. what if the land is “appropriated” and no canal is ever finished. a good possibility.

          • itaia

            Alvarado: Excellent details mentioned by you ! Very useful to be known internationally. Gracias !

          • Carlos M Alvarado

            Nicaragua is not only primitive but backwards, I’m not saying this to offend but due to wars and revolutions the country was sent back to the Stone Age. Nothing is perfect and exact in this world and people has fears and worries but once employment is generated and the land is paid well with generous compensation packages then this conversation will be irrelevant, however is the government don’t do this, they way they promised , then the people will react. The best policy is to wait and see, there is no need to put the cab before the horses.

          • gcblues

            you should know that none of the land owners i know have heard a single thing but catastro value and nothing for those on the lago which is in concession. maybe a casita away from their family. hardly generous and in reality if it is in fact it is “theft”. i am glad your optimism is tempered with the “what if” if things fall short. what if the land is “appropriated” and the canal; never completed? i will tell you as an un-primitive very old businessman i go into no deal without the exposure of the downside calculated. engineers world wide doubt the economic viability. i am sure some will profit. the question is for el gente.

          • Carlos M Alvarado

            In the last 7 years Nicaragua has progressed like never before in history. I would prefer to give the benefit of the doubt to the government and give it a try. A new, road, a railway line or new ports is a great advance. Just doing nothing and imagining the worse as the only thing that can happen will never take us anywhere. We have to have a degree of optimism. What the government will gain from stealing the land and making enemies or not giving employment to the people or not generating more investment…it’s not logic…No Nicaraguan will allow such a behaviour…this are great time for Nicaragua and it’s getting better, we already have the best network of road in Central America, no marras or drugs criminality likemin Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, we have free education, health is improving, exports going up, investment coming in, employment going up. We don’t want to see people living In Shacks, selling cold water in plastic bags, botas de hule in the countryside exploited by the landlords, or dying of diarrhoea and malnutrition,…

  • Noam

    Had this happened in Panama… Teddy Roosevelt would’a brought in the infantry!

    • itaia

      Better read up on what U.S. Marine Corps General SMEDLEY BUTLER has written about the U.S. military interventions in Central America, the Caribbean, PhilIlpines and China: Gen. Butler participated in all of them: “I was muscle-man for Wall Street. It was a racket!”

  • itaia

    What to watch for: Instead of “Contras” from Miami, now the destabilization “ops” are directed by “activists” of NGOs from Denmark, Germany, Switzerland – because they arouse no suspicion. “IBIS” of Denmark was expelled from Bolivia last year due to subversion against the national cohesion. “IBIS” is the lead NGO behind “Cocibolca”, “Centro Humboldt, and among Miskitos, to destabilize Nicaragua and “IBIS” organized the recent violent opposition. The NGO “E-Changer” of Switzlerland infiltrated several agents, some in the ATC-UNAPA. There are also German “activists” who may become quite aggressive. “Ojo” !