Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 409 | Agosto 2015




Envío team

The digital publication Istoé Brasil reported in early August that the private Brazilian companies Eletrobras and Queiroz Galvao are involved in the multi-million-dollar scandal in which the state oil company Petrobras is enmeshed. Those same two companies, some of whose top executives have been arrested, are the investors responsible for executing the Inambari hydroelectric project in Peru and the Tumarín hydroelectric project in Nicaragua. They have confessed to having paid millions in bribes in both projects, which turn out to have also been used to launder money to finance President Dilma Roussef’s electoral campaign and pay kickbacks to Brazilian politicians. In Nicaragua’s case, the two companies created the joint venture company Centrales Hidroeléctricas de Nicaragua (CHN) with the Ortega government in exchange for receiving the Tumarín concession from him. There’s no way the Nicaraguan government could have been unaware of the money laundering going on behind this megaproject, which would be the largest of its kind in Nicaragua and whose cost has been repeatedly inflated since it was first announced in 2009. The government only granted CHN the contract at the end of last year, after agreeing on the price per megawatt of electricity Tumarín will produce. It is not yet known how the corruption scandal will affect Tumarín’s construction.

In mid-June, during the second visit to Nicaragua of Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou, President Ortega requested his support to construct a deep-water port in Monkey Point, in the southern Caribbean Coast region. The news caused surprise given that the plan for Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal, a project headed by a company from the People’s Republic of China involving Chinese state companies, already includes a deep water port just 6 kilometers from Monkey Point, in Punta Águila. Nicaragua has relations with Taiwan but not with mainland China. Taiwan’s President responded that “once we have analyzed and done a general evaluation of this project, we will be able to give an official response on how to back and support it.” The Brazilian company Andrade Gutiérrez conducted feasibility studies for a port in the same site in 2012, but didn’t commit itself to the work because the required investment turned out to be $200 million more than the $300 million anticipated.

It was learned in June that the ALBA Group’s Banco Corporativo S.A. initiated operations in Nicaragua on April 6, administering trust funds. While it was done quietly, with no publicity, it was later reported that it will offer credits and receive deposits like a regular commercial bank. There was also a delay in revealing the members of its board of directors. The list, finally published on May 29, includes Francisco López, already FSLN treasurer and vice president of Albanisa, the para-private joint venture with Venezuela that manages and invests the multi-million-dollar income from Nicaragua’s oil deal with that country.

Various confrontations between Miskitu community members and mestizo settlers have been reported in six indigenous communities of the plains territory of Waspan (Francia Sirpi, Wisconsin, Santa Clara, Miguel Bikan and La Esperanza) in the North Caribbean region. Settlers have continued to push into these indigenous people’s ancestral lands with no respect for Law 445 on indigenous territorial demarcation. According to that law, the restitution of indigenous rights over their territories involves various phases: measurement of each territory, the placing of boundary posts, demarcation, titling and title clearance. This last and most complex phase consists of dealing with “third parties,” essentially non-indigenous residents defined according to different categories: those with agrarian titles issued since 1987 who have occupied the land, those with titles who have not occupied it, those with defective [read illegally issued] titles and those with no title. Depending on the category, they are either expelled or an agreement is negotiated for harmonic cohabitation. In the recent conflicts, the affected indigenous communities have accused the government of supporting the settlers, showing no willingness to comply with the title clearance process. Elvin Castro, the community judge of Francia Sirpi, declared after one confrontation: “We have been very passive, but now we’re going to act violently to defend our lands as Daniel Ortega’s government is moving us to war because he doesn’t want to resolve the titles to our territories.” Sixteen charges of murder of indigenous community members by mestizo settlers have been received since 2013. In addition to the human victims, the mestizos have also deforested hundreds of hectares of forest to use as pasture for livestock.

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