Managua (AFP) – A rural movement in Nicaragua that opposes the government’s plan to build a cross-country canal to rival Panama’s on Wednesday said it has taken its fight to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The matter would be lodged in coming days, alleging violations of thousands of people’s livelihoods and property along the route of the planned waterway, the director of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, Gonzalo Carrion, told a news conference.
“All other legal avenues have been exhausted,” Carrion said, explaining that Nicaragua’s Supreme Court had declared invalid a lawsuit trying to force the parliament to debate the project.
The government of President Daniel Ortega awarded the $50 billion canal project to a Chinese company, HKND, in June 2013.
No excavation work has yet started, but the plan calls for thousands of people to be displaced — 27,000 according to HKND, or 100,000 according to opponents.
Protests have persisted in the four years since the plan was unveiled.
The Chinese company said a month ago the project “is moving ahead” and working with international firms to design the locks for the canal.
“The justice system and the parliament have failed the people, failed rural residents,” said the representative of the movement to block the canal, Monica Lopez.
A leader of the group, Francisca Ramirez, said “the government has forced us to go to international bodies to seek justice, since we can’t get any in our own country.”