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The Nicaragua Dispatch News ~ Featured news stories in Nicaragua

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How a bucket of fried chicken can help prevent a gang war in El Salvador

A little Pollo Campero can go a long way to bringing peace to El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — A greasy 12-piece combo of fried chicken isn’t always the smartest menu choice. But in this case, the double Promoción Súper Campero was all about preserving my health. I was cabbing across San Salvador cradling two soggy-bottom boxes of chicken parts to make a prandial offering to the leaders of the Pandilla 18, one of El Salvador’s two main gangs. I was told not to come empty-handed. “We always start every round of peace talks by eating Pollo Campero,” Salvadoran gang whisperer Raul Mijango told me after arranging the interview. Continue Reading →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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Nicaraguans try to hold the line against Chinese in Latin America

Thousands of Nicaraguans marched against the Chinese canal today in Managua

Editor’s note: this story first appeared on Fusion.net. Read full story here. MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Doña Albalina Espinoza’s cellphone rattled with the incoming warning call at 2:30 p.m: “The Chinese are coming!” the voice hissed. Espinoza quickly hung up, then dialed the next number on the list: “The Chinese are coming!” she repeated. Within minutes, all 150 families in the lakeside village of Obrajuelo had been alerted to the interlopers’ presence. Continue Reading →

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More Nicaraguans join anti-canal marches

Marches against the canal are growing in strength

Thousands of Nicaraguan campesinos marched on Puerto Principe, Nueva Guinea, on Monday in the 10th march organized against the Sandinistas government’s $50 billion Chinese canal project. On foot and on horseback, campesinos road through the Caribbean jungle town carrying blue-and-white Nicaraguan flags following a truck with blaring speakers that vowed to defend ancestral land from government expropriation. “What do the campesinos want?” “For the Chinese to leave!” echoed the call-and-response. “What do the farmers want?” Continue Reading →

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Nicaraguans rise up against Chinese canal

Campesinos march against the canal and expropriations in Nueva Guinea

NUEVA GUINEA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua’s muddy countryside rumbled under the staccato of horse hooves and rubber boots on Tuesday as more than 1,000 campesinos marched through Nueva Guinea to protest the construction of a $50-billion, privately owned Chinese canal that would rival Panama’s interoceanic waterway. Under the banners “Our land is not for sale!” and “Chinaman, go home!” Nicaraguan farmers and cowboys vowed to defend their properties from government expropriation and Chinese encroachment. “I would rather die than hand over my property,” march organizer Francisca Ramirez, 39, told Fusion in a phone interview from Nueva Guinea, 175 miles east of the capital. “The people living in this region are already living in extreme poverty. Where are we supposed to go if the government kicks us off our land?”

Suspicions of Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government have turned to alarm as the country’s perpetual president, Daniel Ortega, hatched a perplexing partnership with enigmatic Chinese businessman Wang Jing in 2013. Continue Reading →

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Historical docs show U.S. always favored Nicaragua over Panama for canal

Proposed canal route from Menocal's day

Long before President Daniel Ortega and Chinese mystery man Wang Jing teamed up to revive Nicaragua’s age-old canal complex, a studious and diligent U.S. Navy engineer named A.G. Menocal was equally determined to connect the Atlantic and Pacific through a trans-isthmian waterway cut across Nicaragua. Menocal knew his history, was familiar with Nicaragua’s terrain, and was an expert topographer. Between 1876-77, the U.S. engineer was in the employ of the Nicaraguan government surveying harbor improvements in Greytown, while carefully mapping the surrounding river basin. He was a student of previous U.S. engineers who had conducted surveys for earlier attempts to build a Nicaraguan canal in the mid 19th century. He particularly admired the work of Col. Continue Reading →

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