Confidencial – Obrajuelo against the Chinese

community rejects Expropriations, CHANTING ‘THE NICARAGUAN race knowS OF struggles and honor’

Obrajuelo against the Chinese

Protesta de pobladores de Obrajuelo contra representantes de HKND. Carlos Herrera/Confidencial.

Photo: The population of Obrajuela protests against representatives of HKND. Photo: Carlos Herrera/Confidencial. –

In less than 24 hours the community of Obrajuelo stoned a HKND truck and hindered traffic on the Panamerican Highway in a clear rejection and protest against expropriation

Wilfredo Miranda Aburto | 04/12/2014 PiruloAr

Obrajuelo villagers protest against representatives of HKND.  Carlos Herrera / Confidential.Photo: Protesting villagers Obrajuelo against representatives of HKND. Carlos Herrera / Confidential.

In less than twenty-four hours, the community of Obrajuelo, located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua in San Jorge, Rivas, returned to show their rejection of land expropriation involving the works of the ‘Grand Interoceanic Canal’: they stoned a truck belonging to concessionaire company HKND-Group, and obstructed the passage on the Panamerican Highway Wednesday.

Approximately fifty people came with Nicaragua flags and banners to protest, because, supposedly, ombudsmen canal project come that day with notices of expropriation. The residents burned tires on the road and hummed the song or rather ‘Nicaragua Mia’ better known as “I am pure pinolero” – emphasizing the verses that address Nicaraguan courage to defend the homeland.

“The Nicaraguan race / knows of struggles and honor”, Alba Espinoza loudly screamed. She said residents of Obrajuelo and the surrounding community “Los Campamentos” stoned at three in the afternoon of Tuesday a HKND truck. They repudiated the Chinese and said that they entered Obrajuelo without consent.

“We have contacts everywhere and they warned us that the Chinese were here. He was stoned and the car was beaten while the Chinese mounted the vehicle. “We did it because we are hurting,” Espinoza told La Confidencial. “How are they going to take our places, where we live, where our children go to school, where our husbands work? Where are they going to send us? We have nowhere to go. What, are going to send us in the air like birds? ” asked the woman.

In the van went four well-dressed Asian officials and perfectly mastered the Spanish language, according to neighbors; accompanied by the police and a driver who was inside the vehicle when the attack began.

“We half wrestled with a policeman who was with them and grabbed stoned and clubbed the truck. You may say it is vandalism but the truth is that we are exercising our rights, do not get us out of our place like dogs … and we will keep it unto death, ” said Jose Lara.

Espinoza said the police threatened to at least forty people who stoned the vehicle. “The policeman touched the gun and said he did not want to get us in trouble. What’s the problem and what the fuck?, we told ourselves. And we move forward like Andrés Castro “, described the resident.

Another protesters called Mayra Montiel said that after the incident with the truck officers of the National Police arrived at Obrajuelo to find those responsible. The police were trying to figure it out, but nobody said anything … we do not trust the police nor in the president we have, what we have is the truth, “he said. However, the second police chief of Rivas, Commissioner Gilberto Ruiz, told Confidential he did not know of the attack on the truck HKND.

“We do not know that information of a truck … We have not received any complaints about this, only complaints that people who are going through this road are being affected by the citizens of this protest, and they were burning tires,” said the commissioner.

The spokesman of the ‘Grand Canal’, Telemachus Talavera, recognized the aggression but gave no further details to this medium of communication. Also, the president of the National Council of Universities (CNU) apologized saying he was in “a presentation” and also did not elaborate on the issue of alleged notifications to expropriate land.

Chinese intend to lease land

What sparked the backlash from the Obrajuelo community was the HKND team met with the owner of the hacienda “La Panama”, Julio Salinas. People began to comment that Salinas had “been tied up by Chinese”, i.e. he had agreed to sell his land.

According to testimony gathered at the protest, the meeting on “La Panama”, an estate of 20 manzanas located on the banks of the Panamerican Highway and devoted to livestock, took almost all day.

Confidential managed to talk to Salinas in his workshop that runs around the Rotunda of the City of Rivas, 150 yards towards San Jorge. Salinas denied that he sold or even come to a negotiation with HKND officials with whom he met.

“They (the Chinese) just talked to me about renting a block of land. There is no negotiation. We have not reached any agreement, because for renting would have to make a contract “, said Salinas, a little nervously, since Wednesday morning the walls of his studio dawned painted with graffiti reading” traitors”. In fact, Confidential found workers covering it with black paint.

Salinas is a man eminently of the country and claims he is not a “traitor”. Simply stated, two Nicaraguans (who said he could no longer identify because he did not know them) came to propose the rental contract. HKND officials explained to him that the manzana of land that it would occupy leads directly to the road as they plan to build a camp on the site.

According to Salinas, they promised to vacate the property, build the fence that they will break down if the deal ends. But so far, the landowner insisted, they have not reached any deal. He stressed that he does not want to be “stuck into these entanglements”. “Anyway, we are all affected by the Canal… I’d sell my land if they were to pay the actual price”, said Salinas.

Later in protest of Obrajuelo, Ismael Espinoza told Salinas that being a Sandinista militant, and agreeing with the work of the ‘Grand Canal’. For Espinoza it is no crime that the owner of neighboring properties sells or rents their land. He would rather see the issue as something moral.

“If you are renting is supporting the shamelessness of the Chinese, because if they tell me that the Chinese who rent from them or borrow my house I not do it. That he would also not support the shamelessness of the government of Daniel Ortega. They want to take us from our own. The Chinese will say that once the first has sold out, so then all will sell, and that is not so, “said Espinoza.

The protest of the Obrajuelo Community was suspended after two police vans filled with police personnel arrived at the scene. Before, villagers chased almost half a mile a group of motorized vehicles that roamed around the demonstration and took pictures. The elder Solomon Flores reported that vehicles were filled with undercover cops. When asked by Confidential, the vehicles fled. The commissioner Ruíz also did not know these people. “I only hang out with my vehicles, I don’t know the rest,” he explained shortly.

At the end of the day, the alleged expropriation notices failed to arrive in Obrajuelo. Flores, with his tired voice, repeated the refrain “Nicaraguan race / knows of struggles and honor” and with his fist raised promised that the Chinese HKND no longer come to his community.

– See more at:  Confidencial – Obrajuelo contra los chinos.

While there are lots of rumors, propaganda and lack of transparency by both the HKND officials and the Nicaraguan government so far, it is entirely possible that these protests are designed mostly to see how the population of these little communities along the proposed Canal route can get bought out at a better price then they would if they just took whatever the original deal was to be. But as the saying goes, what starts badly…ends badly! Fifty people at this protest doesn’t strike me as a real ground-roots phenomenon.

I am not in favor of the anti-Chinese bashing, but really, shouldn’t the Nicaraguan government meet with those affected and begin to assure them that the deal won’t be so bad, that they’ll get some lands elsewhere, that they will get a bit of money too…something? But what do I know, I am a foreigner in this land and sincerely just hope for the best.

As I’ve been saying for a while, if they start the Canal project, they better damn well finish it or the ecological cost will have been paid (Lake Nicaragua unusable by the people, pollution, and tens of thousands of Chinese laborers that will probably never go home after the project is completed) but the economic benefits will never come in. So at least finish it and do all the mitigation efforts identified in your environmental impact reports, treat the campesinos right, and avoid problems. No one wants another revolution!


Hey reader, watcha think?