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Nicaragua is full of secrets

Nicaragua is beginning the construction of a canal from the Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific Ocean, opening a shipping route from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The construction and operation has been conceded for the next hundred years to Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND), a Chinese company lead by Wang Jing.
Karen Cerna
19.12.2014

Most of the information about this group has been gotten by Nicaraguan journalists from International medias and investigations.

The same happens with the information to the Nicaraguan society, especially indigenous groups and peasants that will be directly affected by the construction. They have affirmed to Kepa that "Municipal authorities do not explain or inform us." There are concerns about the government's urgency in obtaining the law for concessions, discretionary decision to assign the project to a single company and the lack of serious study to evaluate the environmental impact.

According to Octavio Ortega, director of Rivas Municipalites Foundation (FUNDEMUR), the government only informs or negotiates with representatives of big companies, not with communities.

Civil society has been raising awareness. There have been thousands of people protesting in their communities and municipalities, there are coalitions of experts that are joining efforts to promote discussion among professional people.

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Kepa's member organization Vikes, together with local organizations  is leading an important event to inform communities, through a special radio program called Affected lives, that will be disseminated through local radio networks 19th December. You can access it through www.ondalocal.com.ni and get news of how some lives will be affected. It will be on from 16:00 to 18:00 Finnish time.

Trustworthy Information of good quality is the base for people's empowerment and democratic ownership, which leads to real changes for development. Non-informed people are the base for the practice of political clientelism to keep governments in to the power and implement their policy without any contradiction or commitment to transparency and accountability.

Access to good quality public information does not come true in Nicaragua, not only with the Canal project; also in the Feminicides statistics, the truth behind confrontations between the army and an "insurgent armed group" in the North of the country and the monopoly of official information through government party.

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One of the main challenges that the society of Nicaragua has is to maintain independent medias that could guarantee the transparency and accountability on information. The President has four official TV channels and in recent years there has been an accelerated process of concentration of ownership of television, radio and internet.

According to Confidential magazine eight of the nine open channels that exist in the country belong to the monopoly of the president. Four are intended to advertise political propaganda of the government's programs, whereas the other four are controlled by Angel Gonzalez, a Mexican partner of the President. Those channels are focusing on entertainment. There are three cable television channels doing some exercise of oversight government´s work.

Something similar happens with the radio, and even more with one of the two most important national newspapers of the country, which decided to give up its audit work. The few remaining independents work with limited resources that threaten their existence. Several autonomous CSOs say that they have problems in denouncing abuses of institutions through the medias, since directors of the media are under threat and select information that can be shared.

Since the information is so important for development, Civil society has started to think alternatives like the use of social networks and radio through the internet, but the problem is that Nicaragua has the lowest rate of internet users. Less than 15 per cent of the population has access to internet.

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Read more about the latest developments in Nicaraguan civil society, Kepa's work and find out who else is operating in the country from our newest civil society reflection paper: