Tim Rogers

Editor of Nicaragua Dispatch. Currently a 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

Recent Posts

Campesinos threaten school boycott in protest over canal

046 copy

Nicaraguan farmers are threatening to pull their kids from school if the government doesn’t halt plans to build a $50 billion Chinese canal through their communities. Anti-canal activists in several dozen farming communities along the canal route are circulating petitions asking parents to boycott the 2015 school year, which starts next Monday. Community leaders in San Miguelito claim soldiers have been using rural schoolhouses during students’ summer recess as makeshift barracks to militarize the countryside and quell anti-canal protests. Though the army has recently withdrawn from the area, residents fear the soldiers could return at any moment and occupy the schools again. And parents don’t want their kids around when that happens. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Watch Nicaraguan student challenge Sandinista canal rep in Spain

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 7.49.54 PM

Nicaraguan canal spokesman Telemaco Talavera seems to have inadvertently admitted that the Sandinista government doesn’t know the exact route of a $50 billion canal that will bisect Nicaragua. During a confrontation with a Nicaraguan student studying abroad in Madrid, Talavera refuted her claim that 60,000 campesinos will be affected by the canal, saying “That means someone has the route more clearly defined than we do.” Nicaraguan university student Alejandra Espinoza today challenged Talavera about the “enormous concerns” in Nicaragua over unanswered questions about the “social, political, economic and environmental affects” of the $50 billion Chinese canal planned in Nicaragua. In doing so, she presented Talavera with a bundle of papers that she said contained “more than 60,000 signatures of people who will be affected” by the canal. The stack of papers also included copies of the 32 constitutional challenges filed on behalf of 182 Nicaraguans opposed to the canal project. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Nicaragua’s opposition, church decry fatal backpack bomb in Pantasma

Comandante Ruben

(posted Jan 26, 11:15 pm) —Nicaragua’s opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) today called on President Daniel Ortega to work towards finding a peaceful solution to growing political violence in the northern mountains of Jinotega after a weekend attack with a mysterious backpack bomb killed three alleged rearmed contras in the municipality of Pantasma. A communiqué from an alleged rearmed contra group known as the FDC-380 claims that six “guerrillas and an unknown number of civilians” were killed when a cellphone packed with C-4 was detonated remotely in a plot to kill rearmed contra leaders known as Comandates Aguila and Sereno. The communiqué blames the the Nicaraguan Army for planting the bomb. Nicaraguan media puts the death toll at three. The Army denies any involvement in the case and said the investigation is being handled by the police, according to La Prensa. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

In Nicaragua, can Chinese move the canal, avoid Rio San Juan, and still play golf?

The Sandinista's canal spokesman says the route is being moved south, but how far south will it go?

Adding a wrinkle of confusion to a mystery shrouded in doubt, a spokesman for the Chinese canal in Nicaragua announced that the route has been redrawn to circumvent a farming community that has been energetically protesting the $50 billion project for months. Nicaraguan canal spokesman Telemaco Talavera announced last weekend that the canal route has been pushed south to sidestep the community of El Tule and the protected San Miguelito wetlands on the eastern shore of Lake Nicaragua. The decision, Talavera said, was made to avoid environmental and social problems associated with the original route. We’ll have to take his word for it, since the original canal route and environmental impact studies were never made public. But instead of assuaging Nicaraguans’ concerns about the megaproject, the offhand nature of the announcement has only heightened fears that Sandinista officials aren’t giving appropriate seriousness of purpose to the so-called “biggest infrastructure project in the history of humanity.”

“Together with all the other anomalies related to this megaproject, now we have this erratic type of communication about the canal,” said Nicaraguan environmental lawyer Monica López Baltodano, who has been active in coordinating many of the 18 protest marches against the canal over the past six months. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Nicaragua police release all 6 anti-canal leaders

Protest leader Octavio Ortega after being released today

(updated Dec 30, 1 pm)— Nicaraguan police has released all  six leaders of the campesino Land Defense Council after more than 150 hours of illegal detention, according to local media reports. The campesino leaders, local organizers of a group that has vowed to defend landowners from forced expropriations for the Chinese canal project, all showed signs of being beaten, according to witnesses. The anti-canal protesters were among the 47 campesinos who were beaten and grabbed during a violent Christmas Eve clash with riot police. Read more on this story here. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Feliz Navidad, from Rosario and Google Translate


The following is a special Christmas message from Nicaragua’s first lady, Rosario Murillo. Since it’s Christmas Eve and I can’t be bothered to translate her yuletide cheer, I let Google Translate do the job for me, like a dutiful elf. From Rosario:

“Today reborn Jesus Christ in our hearts, now reborn commitment to get better Christians, now reborn commitment to lead with humility. “We will ask God that good heart that we Nicaraguans have become increasingly large, because of good heart and good deeds arise arises the commitment of the Common Good. “Good Heart is love big, and we want to live, love big, peace big, big country, big dreams, big prosperity for all.” Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Wang Jing: there’s ‘no turning back’ on Nicaragua canal

canal wang jing

For a project that’s being billed as the “biggest infrastructure project in the history of humanity,” Monday’s groundbreaking of the great Chinese canal in Nicaragua was a pretty hum-drum affair. First of all, it wasn’t really a canal groundbreaking — just the start of construction on a lonely access road. But mostly, it was an opportunity for Sandinista politicians and Chinese canal planners to put on hardhats and pose next to a dump truck, which is something they promised to do before Christmas. The only real excitement of the day was provided by anti-canal protesters who blocked highways and burned tires in Rivas and Nueva Guinea. The Sandinistas tried to manufacture some excitement of their own by sending identically dressed loyalists into the streets of Managua to wave flags and repeat the first lady’s talking points about God blessing the canal (#DiosBendigaElCanal). Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Too bad graffiti doesn’t come with spell check

Graf main

The following is a public service announcement from The Nicaragua Dispatch. We know that spelling is hard, and it’s hot outside, but if you’re going to go out tagging the walls of Managua to protest the Chinese canal this week, it’s worth getting your message straight before you shake the spray paint can. Take the following unfortunate incident. 1. Viva Nicagua! Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Nicaraguan campesinos march against Chinese canal

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. 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. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,