Tortilla con Sal, December 6th 2014
Western media coverage of Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal has been almost uniformly hostile and often woefully ill-informed since the project was announced in 2013. The most recent attacks have focused on the alleged disaster the canal represents for Nicaragua’s natural environment, mixed in with largely gratuitous attacks on the Nicaraguan government and the Canal’s Chinese main contractor, HKND. A casual reader could be forgiven for concluding that the project is hopelessly misconceived and highly likely to ruin an untouched natural environment.
For example, the Smithsonian magazine has published critical articles by Matthew Shaer and Rachel Nuwer very similar to other reports, for example by James Griffith in the Global Post or in the mainstream corporate media. These consistently inaccurate reports attack the Canal based on superficially authoritative, allegedly science-based arguments. One group, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation has produced a resolution against the Canal, while other scientists have published criticism in environmentalist publications, for example in Nature magazine.
Some specific criticisms by environmentalists have already been accepted and incorporated into the Canal’s still developing planning stages. But the wider general arguments are often confused, flawed on matters of fact, generally unscientific and blatantly biased in what they argue and almost without exception downright dishonest in terms of what they omit. The article by Matthew Shaer is a good place to start.
This is sort of “the other side of the story” of the planned Interoceanic Canal, an article by Tortilla con Sal, who is a writer using a pseudonym. He or she writes on a Sandinista propaganda website, http://tortillaconsal.com, which features articles on the latest messages from first compañera Rosario Murillo, letters written by Daniel Ortega to Russian president Vladimir Putin and vice versa, and images of the Daniel and Rosario along with Blanca and Sandino, early Nicaraguan revolutionaries.
Putting that aside for the moment, when we look at the argument being made in the linked article, it is good to hear the other side of the story, as most reporting by western media has been negative about the canal; its environmental problems, taking of poor peasant’s land, lack of transparency, who will be funding construction, etc.
The facts are that no environmental impact reports have been released. The writer says it is because they have not be completed. Also, that the construction set to begin this month (December 2014) is not to begin dredging the canal, but to begin work on two large ports, one on the Pacific and the other on the Caribbean.
The writer then goes on to state that it is extremely unlikely that the canal work will begin before the environmental impact reports are released. Well, I should hope so! But even if this were true, logically there are environmental impacts for deepwater ports, airports, tourism projects, and commercial and manufacturing area, etc.
Where the author does make a good point is that the deforestation of the eastern part of the country is already well underway and that there is very little pristine forests to be ruined through the construction of the canal, and that in fact they will have to plant hundreds of thousands of trees to keep the watershed intact, which will a net plus as far as number of trees goes.
What I don’t see is how there can be complete mitigation of the damages that will be done to Lake Nicaragua. The waste silt from yearly dredging of Lake Nicaragua alone is an issue, much less the oil spills that will inevitably come.
There is a point to be made that if Nicaragua has the money, it will be able to help the environment that much more by treating dirty water, preventing toxic runoff, etc. whereas now they have squat as far as funds to help maintain natural areas.
The other area where I have to admit the author has a point is the political aspect of these anti-Canal articles. Certainly the United States would rather that the Chinese do not control a canal that is wider then the Panama canal, where the largest ships ever built can pass through, and where the location saves a thousand kilometers of distance between major ports such as New York and Los Angeles, saving millions of dollars in shipping costs. So many publications, organizations, and writers take their cues from these geopolitical issues and put a definite slant to their findings, articles, and positions.
So, to sum up, this article is well worth reading and while I don’t agree completely with the statements made, there are some good points that most of the mainstream press articles do not address. I am a believer that technology and engineering can mitigate much of the damages that will be incurred, but there needs to be a commitment on the part of HKND and the investors to see this thing through, to really dedicate significant resources in mitigating the environmental damages, and to treat the people whose lands will be expropriated with decency and fairness. That, to me all remains to be seen!
community rejects Expropriations, CHANTING ‘THE NICARAGUAN race knowS OF struggles and honor’
Obrajuelo against the Chinese
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
- 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!
This is by Patricia Serrano who per her bio on YouTube has her mailing address in New York City, but really travels all around the world filming her adventures. Her most popular video is this one, about Nicaragua. She gets on a chicken bus, goes volcano boarding, does a canopy zipline tour, explores local markets, meets new friends and has an all-around good time.
She starts the video by telling her viewers not to come to Nicaragua because she wants it all to herself!
Mike was very helpful with our traveling logistics, he picked us up from the airport for $20 and helped us get cordobas and on a bus the next day . His farm,family and Bnb were all lovely . His wife made a delicious local breakfast and mike gave us a tour of the farm . We enjoyed the quiet location and pool. Thanks so Much Mike , Tara and señor Micky!
Pool Bunkbeds Tranquil Farm B&B (w)
We arrived at the airport in Managua on a late flight and Mike was there to collect us, which was great having coming off a long haul flight. He drove us to his beautiful finca. We found in the morning that the views over the neighbouring hills were stunning, and Mike’s wife and sister in law cooked us traditional Nica food – which happened to be the best traditional food we ended up having on our travels in Nicaragua – including “Nacatamales” on Sunday, which were amazing! As well as being introduced to the family and pet dogs we also had a tour of the farm. Mike also took us for a tour of the Masaya volcano and helped us get a local bus to our next destination. He would have been happy to drive us but we fancied having a go on the local buses – which we were cheap and safe. All in all, very pleased with our experience. Thanks Mike.
Ensuite Queen Tranquil Farmstay B&B
That’s for sure! This is a well-done HD video using lots of drone shots from the air and several beautiful people and many divine-looking places. All around great job on this by Surf Ranch Nicaragua.
The video focuses on the area of southwestern Nicaragua, and although I’m sure quite this is an unintended consequence by the people who worked on this film, it feels to be somewhat of a testimony to the way Nicaragua is now, pre-Interoceanic Canal. So enjoy it while it lasts, which really means you had better get down here in 2015!
As they have filmed between Popoyo on the north to San Juan del Sur to the south, the canal will literally splice that into two as it will run right through the middle between those two areas. While I doubt the directors and producers had this in mind as they filmed…it is indeed pretty to look at and no doubt is a great draw for folks visiting.
Nicaragua Insiders say that the canal is a GO but only for land speculation purposes, actually building a canal would be just icing on the cake. The plan is to take advantage of the near-sovereignty the Chinese man who owns HKND and his associates have now by law and to use that to be in control of a large swath of southern Nicaragua.
Lots of European visitors in town now, per my sources in the Popoyo area. We had several here last week who probably are all now down at the beaches in your area! As written about previously, the European visitor numbers are growing and they are staying in my experience, an average of three weeks at a time in Nicaragua.
So a couple of minor matters passed along to you about the Interoceanic Canal and European visitors to Nicaragua. Cheers!
Flying in late or leaving early? Don’t want to stay in a chain hotel? (km 10 1/2 Carretera a Masaya, Managua)
I believe the Farmstay has found a nice market segment for the visiting traveler to Nicaragua, the European, Australian, or New Zealand visitors who have flown a long way to get here! These folks have had at least 24 hours of travel and are tired, want to know they will be taken care of, and have a safe and secure entry to their Nicaraguan vacation.
The idea of staying at a small eco-tourism Farmstay in elevation where it is cooler, on a farm where it is quiet, that has excellent amenities and personalized service and attention is appealing to these visitors.
They want to rest and relax, staying two nights at the Farmstay to recharge their batteries, and get ready for the rest of their Nicaraguan adventures! We are the perfect location for such visitors and I would like to invite any folks visiting Nicaragua who come from Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and any other European countries I’m forgetting to mention to come and stay with us.
We provide the “soft landing service” where we pick you up from the airport, help you get adjusted to the pace and the lifestyle, give you some good food to eat, and a lovely soft comfortable bed to sleep in. When you wake up, you can take a nice swim, explore our farm, pick some fruit, check in with the folks back home via our Internet WiFi. Contact us here for more information and to book your room!
Nice Cool and Cloudy Afternoon at the Farmstay
We are enjoying a nice cool and cloudy afternoon at the Farmstay…I hope you are having a great day too!
So how’s the weather over there at the Farmstay? Today, 16 November, 2014 it is very nice. A bit cool all day and we got a little rainshower here and there. Cloudy, with some fog up on the top of Las Nubes (the mountain in front of the Farmstay).
Almost every afternoon, from our perspective, the western light shines at an angle which accentuates the shape of the various craters of the complex of volcanoes at the Masaya National Park and gives off a soft red-hued glow. We face southeast towards the Masaya Volcano. Today’s view was no exception. The volcano is located approximately eight miles from El Porton Verde, so we get a nice view of it from the house and the pool area.
I went yesterday on a Night Hike at the Masaya Volcano, and that was as usual, a lot of fun. We actually some some glowing lava!