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European Parliament Gives Nicaragua’s Anti-Canal Movement a Major Boost

LADB Article ID: 80239
Category/Department: Nicaragua
Date: 2017-03-16
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

A series of power plays that culminated in another sweeping election victory for President Daniel Ortega and the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN) in November cost Nicaragua’s already reeling opposition its remaining legislative seats and established what for all intents and purposes is a one-party state. As the controversial caudillo settles into his third consecutive five-year-term—and fourth overall, not including his tenure as head of Nicaragua’s post-revolutionary junta government (1979-1985)—he does face a mounting challenge from outside the political sphere, one that is emanating, of all places, from the backwater municipality of Nueva Guinea. Francisca Ramírez, a middle-aged farmer who is determined to save her land and that of thousands of other Nicaraguans from being swallowed up by Ortega’s “Great Canal” project, leads a civil society movement called the Consejo Nacional en Defensa de Nuestra Tierra, Lago, y Soberanía (Council for the Defense of Our Land, Lake, and Sovereignty) that has organized dozens of protests in recent years against the behemoth canal project. The group’s stature, particularly on an international level, rose another notch in mid-February, when the European Parliament (EP), the legislative body of the European Union, issued a resolution slamming the Nicaraguan government’s democratic shortcomings, human rights record, and treatment, in particular, of Ramírez.

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