URACCAN UPDATE
June 29, 1998
Felipe Stuart, editor
 
URACCAN UPDATE is published as a courtesy to URACCAN by its editor, Felipe Stuart Courneyeur. 

Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of  URACCAN or UU.  URACCAN'S positions and opinions, when articulated, will be found in editorials or in formal statements attributed to the institution. 

Most information presented in UU is taken from original Spanish-language material -- university documents and reports, articles from the Nicaraguan press, and signed contributions from academics, researchers, and students.  All translations to English, unless otherwise credited, are by the editor.

IN THIS ISSUE

Ojo de URACCAN

Biodiversity Symposium

Attache-case Mining Firms

 

Coastal Resources - A Catastrophe

Nicaragua's Separatist Fears

Mail

Humor


 

URACCAN UPDATE HOME


 
OJO DE URACCAN

OJO DE URACCAN  is the editor's column. Usually you will find here a few tips on what's coming up in the UPDATE and/or  personal comments about  some inspiring point or  vexing concern.  And occasionally a guest article,  as you will find at the bottom of thisedition's  OJO --  a letter by a Bluefields URACCAN student protestinganti-Costeno discrimination by the National Union of Nicaraguan Student's (UNEN).

June 29 is Teachers' Day in Nicaragua; hence a holiday for URACCAN teachers and students.  Readers of UU familiar with our university will appreciate that much of URACCAN's success and advances is owed to its teachers' hard work, commitment, and willingness to go that extra mile.   On top of teaching commitments and other work, many URACCAN docents are burning the candle at both ends, taking courses to obtain Masters' degrees in various fields.  Next month a score of them will again converge on the Bilwi campus to begin another session of the York University Masters' program.

This session will be taught by our Mexican colleague,  Dr. Polo Diaz.  Best wishes for a successful and enjoyable course.  We look forward to reporting in the UU on your progress.

This issue of UU features the thorny issue of mining concessions in Nicaragua, under the spotlight of a just published study by FADCANIC -- Foundation for Nicaraguan Atlantic Coast Autonomy and Development, headed by Ray Hooker.   This study takes a broad angle in its approach to Nicaraguan mining-sector policy.  It is not  focused on issues of environmental protection and worker safety, questions that have been the subject of considerable controversy in this country despite their  benign neglect by companies and government alike.  The study spotlights highly suspect policy and deals that have enabled a few firms to corner exploration rights resulting in a situation of actual underdevelopment of this sector, especially on the Caribbean Coast.

We also return again to the issue of Caribbean Coast autonomy -- with a contribution from Miguel Gonzalez, URACCAN Vice-Rector for the Bluefields campus.  Gonzalez is one of Nicaragua's most highly respected authorities on the autonomy process, best known for his book "Gobiernos Plurietnicos: La Constitucion de Regiones Autonomas en Nicaragua", co-published by URACCAN and Plaza y Valdes Editores (Mexico).

Raw  irony punctuates the twisting of this issue by sectors of Nicaragua's
political elite.  In March and April outrage and dragon-fire was spewed at
Indigenous peoples and Costenos because the Miskito Council of Elders had dared to call for honoring of longstanding treaty rights and the content of the autonomy law itself.   Accusations of treason and separatism passed with slippery ease off the lips of central government officials.  The daily La Tribuna, expressing the orientation of an important sector of the pro-Liberal wealthy elite, raised the specter of another Guanacaste -- a part of southern Nicaragua that seceded and joined Costa Rica in the last century.

Hardly had the ink dried on such journalistic bombast before another sector of the Nicaraguan population really did raise the specter of separation -- but not Costenos.  They were, rather, the long neglected and marginalized residents of the Rivas municipality of Cardenas, bordering on Costa Rica.

Fortunately, proposals from folks in Cardenas for separating and joining
Costa Rica were not met with army mobilizations and military occupation of small towns and communities.  Instead a circus of government delegations headed south from Managua (in helicopters, of course) with promises of aid, government projects, and perhaps even a passable road to the rest of the country.  The army too was represented in this show by General Joaquin Cuadra.

All this might be taken as charade were not the complaints of people in
Cardenas based on such grave problems and compelling needs.  On June 21 La Tribuna carried a feature on the Cardenas "dream to annex itself to Costa Rica", headlined on its front page:  CARDNENAS:  BETWEEN HOPE AND THE DEAR DREAM OF ANNEXATION.   Next,  an editor's introduction noted:

"Dreams of joining Costa Rica have still not been erased.  It is latent
among inhabitants of Cardenas and border communities.  Ministry of
Construction and Transport tractors have arrived in Cardenas for the first
time to grade roads that lead to remote communities.  But it's not enough.
The problems are grave and much is to be done.

"Julio Rivas, president of the Municipal Pro-development Committee,
presented a document of demands on the central government, including
construction of access roads to all municipal communities, a program of
low-interest, agricultural credit,  and extension of the health system to
remote communities.

"The inhabitants of Cardenas also called for the building of new schools and increasing the educational level because children now can only study up to the second grade."

Although Costa Rica is not next door to paradise, it is next door to
Nicaragua. It seems to look mighty attractive to many folks in Cardenas.

But ironies abound.

People in Cardenas were not just showered with government promises, but also became the but of shrill patriotic fervor out of Managua,  some voiced by people who had once abandoned their own country to take out US citizenship. This led cartoonists and others to mock them, making the point that apparently only rich Nicaraguans have the right to change nationalities and then come back to stake claims to power and property domain.

Another interesting parallel is that General Cuadra has changed his tune
about a military response to armed Yatama forces in the RAAN.  He now says that there is no military solution to that problem.  He argues that it is
essentially political and is rooted in government failure to come through
with agreements and treaties with the Indigenous peoples of that area.   It
is not clear if President Aleman concurs with the army leader's latest
analysis and position.  However General Cuadra's most recent statements reflect, in this writers personal opinion, an important challenge to the government.  As long as Caribbean Coast peoples'  human, social, and ethnic rights continue to be denied in practice, extreme tensions will continue to mark relations between the autonomous regions and the national state.

Military clout will not make them go away, a lesson painfully learned (at
least by some) in the last decade.

Felipe Stuart Courneyeur -- UU Editor

Guest article

COSTENO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION BY UNEN LEADERS

The following letter to the editor was published by the Managua daily El Nuevo Diario, June 26.  It appeared as an guest editorial column.

Nicaraguan compatriots, student leaders throughout the country:  For me the strategy taken by the UNEN [National Union of Nicaraguan Students] and its President Julio Orosco to bar Costena universities from participating in the national student election contest is still inconceivable and incredible.

This is an anti-student, anti-democratic, anti-Nicaraguan, and particularly
anti-Costeno attitude.  I want to recognize that in 1995, after denouncing
the CNU (National Council of Universities] and Julio Orosco for carrying out exclusionist maneuvers to avoid accepting BICU and URACCAN as full members of the CNU [bearing especially in mind the University Autonomy Law]; after denouncing them to the central government, the National Assembly, and before human rights organizations --after all that -- we Costenos decided to forget the past and to work hand in hand in a sincere way.  But now I realize that only we were sincere; they gave us the finger.

Today we Costenos, no matter our political stripe, see this as a totally
discriminatory act; we see it as one that can only create greater division
between the Pacific and Atlantic; we see it as a racist act.  But we
Costenos have to decide what to do.  The first step is to go before the
National Assembly and lobby with Costeno deputies -- Carlos Garcia, William Schwartz, Leonel Panting, Saul Zamora, Stedman Fagoth Muller -- and also with other liberal, conservative, Sandinista, and Patriotic caucus deputies to achieve consensus for reforming the current university autonomy law.

We will ask for an audience with Minister of Government Dr.  Jose Antonio Alvarado to lobby for abrogation of UNEN's legal status given that it no longer represents the interests of Atlantic Coast students.  We will look for support and solidarity  from different social and political forces throughout the country in our petition for constituting a new Costeno student organization with legal status.  In that way we intend to
participate on our own behalf as full members of the CNU; and we will
attempt to assure that 50% of official funding UNEN receives be made over to the new Atlantic Coast student organization.

We Costenos can no longer allow those from the Pacific to treat us as second or third class citizens.  It's time that we be respected.  We university youth are going to demand that.

And with our first step we will never stop moving ahead.

Sergio Leon C.
URACCAN Student
Bluefields


 
 
URACCAN / IREMADES
SEMINARIO INTERNACIONAL DE BIODIVERSIDAD

Instituto de Recursos Naturales, Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible 

invita

Cientificos, academicos, forestales, agronomos, biologos, ecologos, estudiantes, lideres y dirigentes de comunidades y publico en general

a participar

del 4 al 7 de noviembre de 1998

Recinto universitario URACCAN Campus
Siuna, RAAN. 

Objetivo General
Promover el intercambio de informacion, investigaciones y difusion que contribuyan a la conservacion biologica y cultural de la region en que han vivido tradicionalmente los pueblos indigenas y comunidades etnicas.

Objetivos Especificos

  • Conocer el Marco Legal nacional e internacional entorno a la Biodiversidad.
  • Contribuir al desarrollo de capacidades locales en cuanto al rescate y desarrollo de practicas ancestrales, investigaciones y difusion sobre la biodiversidad.
  • Valorar el aporte de los pueblos indigenas a la conservacion de la biodiversidad y sus derechos de propiedad intelectual en ese contexto.
  • Compartir expeciencias sobre metodologias aplicadas o en procesos para el monitoreo de la biodiversidad.
  • Promover la cooperacion entre investigadores nacionales internacionales.
  • Determinar las prioridades de investigacion futuras.
Temas o Areas de Concentracion
  • Marcos Juridicos Normativos de la Biodiversidad
  • Propiedad Intelectual
  • Pueblos Indigenas y Biodiversidad
  • Monitoreo de la Biodiversidad
  • Experiencias de Desarrollo Sostenible y Biodiversidad
  • Importancia de la Biodiversidad en los Bosques del Tropico Humedo (economia, ecologia y Medio Ambiente)
  • Establecimiento y Manejo de Areas Protegidas
BIODIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR
IREMADES /  URACCAN

Natural Resources, Environment, and Sustainable Development Institute

invites

Scientists, academics, foresters, agronomists, biologists, ecologists, students, community leaders, and the general public

to participate

November 4 - 7, 1998

Recinto universitario URACCAN Campus
Siuna, RAAN. 

General Objective
To promote exchange and dissemination of information and  research which
contributes to cultural and biological conservation in the region where
ethnic communities and Indigenous peoples have traditionally lived.

Specific Objectives

  • To know the national and international legal framework of Biodiversity.
  • To help develop local capacity for recovery and development of ancestral practices,  for research, and for dissemination of  information about biodiversity.
  • To value Indigenous people's contributions to conservation of biodiversity and  to value their rights to intellectual property in this context.
  • Share experiences on applied methodologies and/or biodiversity monitoring processes.
  • Promote cooperation among national and international researchers.
  • Establish priorities for future research.
Themes or Focus Areas
  • Normative Juridical Framework  for Biodiversity
  • Intellectual Property
  • Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity
  • Monitoring Biodiversity
  • Experiences with Sustainable Development and Biodiversity
  • mportance of Biodiversity in Tropical Humid Forests (to the economy,  ecology, and environment)
  • Setting Up and Managing Protected Areas

Further information available via email at: autonomy@ibw.com.ni

Zarifeth Bolanos
Directora
IREMADES

Attache-Case 'Mining' Companies:
Up to Something:  But What Are They 'Mining' For?

by Edgard Solorzano

On June 4 the Foundation for Nicaraguan Atlantic Coast Autonomy and Development (FADCANIC) announced the results of a major study on recent mining concessions in the Caribbean Coast autonomous regions of Nicaragua. The study "Evaluation of the Impact of Mining Concession Program and Policies of the Central Government in the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions" was presented to a public symposium held in Managua's Olaf Palme Convention Center.  Specialists provided participants with background information on the country's mineral resources and Nicaragua's geological particularities that endow it with extraordinary  deposits of precious ores.  FADCANIC's president Ray Hooker delivered the main report taking up government policies and the issue of the legality of many mining concessions, especially those in the autonomous regions.  Copies  of documents detailing the study results and of Ray Hooker's presentation are available in Spanish from FADCANIC {fadcanic@ibw.com.ni}.

Below, UU offers an article about FADCANIC's study translated from  the
June 18-24 edition of the popular Managua weekly EL SEMANARIO.  It appeared with under the title "'Empresas de papel' se tragan la Costa Atlantica" and was accompanied by an interview with Ray Hooker carried out by journalist Edgard Solorzano, the article's  author -- Editor.
 

Ninety percent of mining exploration concessions could soon become paralyzed if Dr. Arnoldo Aleman's government does not take the necessary measures to avoid major risks.

Of that ninety percent [concessions about to close down],  sixty percent are found in the Atlantic Coast Autonomous Regions and the other 30% in the rest of the country.

The Minister of the Economy and its Mining Department maintain a hermetic silence in the face of this situation.

Faulty management of the mining industry does not permit satisfactory
exploitation of mining deposits, a problem that had caused Nicaragua to lose $20 million dollars of potential revenue.  [Translator's note: the figure is much higher, by a factor of ten -- see the concluding paragraphs of this
same article].

That scenario was depicted by the Foundation for Nicaraguan Atlantic Coast Autonomy and Development (FADCANIC) in a Workshop-Seminar held in the Olaf Palme Convention Center (June 4).

According to the study presented by FADCANIC members, the main culprits in this situation are government policies applied since 1990 that granted and continue to grant exploitation and exploration concessions to a large number of "attache-case mining enterprises" -- firms that are blocking the development of mining production.

In the Atlantic Coast alone around 1,974,325 hectares could become off-limits for exploration.

"Paper Enterprises"

An accusing finger was pointed at the Delgratia Mining Company that
represents Delgratia Developments Ltd., registered in Vancouver, British
Columbia.  Delgratia, a Canadian firm with more than thirteen years
experience in mineral exploration,  is linked to some twenty "attache-case"
[portfolio] enterprises in Nicaragua: Empresa Minera, S.A., Central Minera, S.A., Mineria Cristo Rey, S.A., Santa Cruz Mining, S.A., San Carlos Mining, S.A., Recursos Naturales de Nicaragua, S.A., Golstone Mining, S.A., Minas del Sur, S.A.,  North Atlantic Resources, and Resources and Mining Company. [S.A. is Spanish for "Limited" (LTD) or "Incorporated" (Inc.)]

According to US news sources, Delgratia is a firm dedicated to stock-market speculation,  financial activities that led to its prosecution in a Nevada District Court under a 1934 securities-exchange law.

In 1996 this Canadian firm altered a sample taken from a Nebraska mineral deposit, leading to an increase in gold-stock prices from three to
thirty-four dollars.  For that same reason it was expelled from the
Vancouver stock market the same year.  Likewise it was expelled from Nasdaq in 1997.  The Canadian firm now faces a law suit stemming from this situation.

That same issue led the Australian firm Western Mining Corporation to decide not to continue mining exploration in our country.

Why Western Withdrew

Western Mining (Nicaragua) Inc. (WMC) began exploration activities in a
360,956 hectare area of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast on August 27, 1996.  It encountered a lot of practical difficulties.  It never got beyond the stage
of paper pushing and geological studies, including some chemical samples.
It seemed that the results were not as promising as expected.  The company withdrew from the area, returning the concession.  According to information in the hands of EL SEMINARIO there are multiple  reasons behind their withdrawal, including a drop in gold prices on the international market, legal difficulties with the concession related to the terms of Law 222, and the limited geo-mineralogical interest of the area granted in the concession.

However, FADCANIC's inquiries reveal that more fundamental problems
concerning mining exploration existed.  WMC was required to invest large sums and exploration technology without having a solid claim to mineral finds.  FADCANIC was informed that the Australian firm expected to obtain rights over areas that had been granted to Empresa Minera, S.A. (EMSA), North Atlantic Resources (NARSA), and various subsidiaries of these two companies, all directly or indirectly associated with the Canadian Delgratia. WMC  wanted to establish its rights in the "Foreign Investment Contract" it signed with the Government, but this was not possible.

Another example of the paralyzing impact of attache-case firms on
exploration is the work that Central Minera, S.A. was going to do on a
concession granted in Santa Rosa (65,900 hectares).  It's limited itself to
paper work and getting recognized, as well as one or two soil and sediment samples.  MEDE (Ministry of Economy and Development) officials told FADCANIC that this firm, linked to Delgratia, had apparently planned to do exploration together with WMC, with the latter having practical responsibility for exploration.  However,  with WMC's withdrawal from the country, exploration is now very likely suspended.  A number of exploration processes in the hands of speculators are also in a similar situation.

A "Johnny-come-lately" miner

Delgratia is represented in Nicaragua by Frank Mena, currently president of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Mining (CAMINIC).  According to FADCANIC's study, some  Chamber members accuse him of wanting to control the mining business to enhance his own interests, the reason why the Chamber has come to play an insubstantial role in defending the interests of its members.

Mena, whom many consider to be quite controversial,  emerged as the "lider" of the mining sector in a strange way.   His first links to mining were made only in 1994 when he obtained concessions.

Before '94 he was involved in fishing activities in the Caribbean.  At the
end of the 80s he appeared in Bluefields promoting a fishing project
utilizing a factory-boat to catch and process seafood.

Before 1979 he had links with the meat business, associated with an economic group led by the then President of the Senate during the Somoza government, Pablo Rener.

As well as his current involvement in mining firms,  many of which are just
"paper" entities, he has made forays into coffee in wide swaths of
Matagalpa, Boaco, and Chontales (provinces), using funds intended for mining activities, obtained from shareholders in the stock market.

In 1996 Delgratia, together with its various extensions, obtained more than 800 million hectares of concessions in the two Atlantic Coast regions.  That same  year,  President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro's government granted a total of 35 concessions, four in May, twenty-one in August, and ten in September.  Of the 35 concessions, 20 were granted to Delgratia and its "paper" enterprises.  It should not go unnoticed that during August and September that year, just twenty days before the national elections, the government granted 31 concessions.

Moreover, many of those concessions were solicited just two or three months in advance.  For example, Empresa Minas del Sur, S.A.,  represented by Mena, requested a concession of 1800 hectares in Las Torres on June 17, 1996 and received 12,800 hectares on August 16 that same year.

Minas del Sur, linked to Delgratia, had also requested some 39,500 hectares in Waylawas and was granted 24,300 hectares on August 16 that year.

Epidemic of Concessions

Six days before (president) Violeta Barrios de Chamorro relinquished the
presidential sash to her successor,  Dr. Arnoldo Aleman, her government
granted -- on January 4 [1997] -- two concessions of 9,420 hectares to the Agencia de Desarrollo Economico Local de Nueva Segovia, involving marble and granite in Ocotal and gold in Murra.

On December 4 that same year the new government granted concessions in Saklin and Makantaka to the Rudy Sinclair Molina mining company, covering an area of 454,300 hectares.

But despite the indiscriminate granting of concessions for exploration and
exploitation of mineral resources in the Atlantic Coast autonomous regions
since 1990, production has declined.

In the 90-97 period annual production reached 353 thousand troy ounces of gold and 445.4 troy ounces of silver, representing a total value of US$125 million.  During that period production in the autonomous regions has been quite low - around 79 thousand troy ounces of gold.  That is 21.3% of national production, a figure that  includes production of gold panners. This fraction is less than that obtained in the decade of the 70s.

According to FADCANIC research, mineral production on the Atlantic Coast from the 40s onward was so attractive that it enabled Nicaragua to become recognized as Central America's greatest gold producer and to attain a world standing in gold output.

In the 50s (between 1951 and 1956) Nicaragua was twelfth in world gold
production, not taking into account production in the ex USSR.  Average
annual production in those years climbed above 300,000 troy ounces, with the Atlantic Coast accounting for 85% of that output.  Those levels were maintained in the 60s, but a significant decline was registered in the 70s.

This decline persists until now, despite concessions' policies that have led
to the granting of 47 concessions in the Atlantic Coast regions covering an
area of 3,232,400 hectares (32,324 square kilometers), or some 60% of the territories of those regions.

Of those 47 concessions 44 are for exploration and three for exploitation.
Delgratia and its group of "paper firms" control 61.4% of exploration
concessions.  Greenstone [a Canadian company], operating through Hemco controls 99.3% of exploitation concessions in the two Autonomous Regions.

Disrespect for the law

Article 35 of the Special Law on Mine and Quarry Exploitation states that
"No natural or juridical person can have title to more than 12 square
kilometers of surface concessions for exploitation".   Any concession
greater than the area established by law would be manifestly null and void.
However, the government overlooks this restriction and hence the mining
industry  is not submitted to any kind of controls except those of interests
detrimental those of the state.

If the industry had developed in a satisfactory way the situation in this
field would be quite different in economic terms.  As well, it is quite
likely that in the next period (of no more than ten years) five to seven new
gold mines will be discovered,  each  with a production potential of around one million ounces.  This would see Nicaragua operating 10 to 12 world-class mines.

Gold currently sells at roughly US$300 an ounce, with production costs at
around US$200 per ounce.  That means that if each mine produces 100,000 ounces of gold a year, US$20 million (per mine) would remain in the country in yearly wages, purchase of supplies, transport, etc.  For the country this would mean the possibility of  from US$200 to $240 million in annual injections into the national economy solely as a result of mining activities.

Hence, mining represents an important potential for eradicating poverty and for the development of the Caribbean Coast and the rest of the country. However, if the government continues with its policy of granting concessions to "paper firms" the situation of social and economic disaster will  prevail on the Atlantic Coast. Moreover,  the economy will never be able to grow at the national level.

FADCANIC's President Ray Hooker

ATLANTIC COAST CATASTROPHE

Edgard Solorzano's interview with Ray Hooker -- former member of Parliament from the RAAS and president of FADCANIC -- reveals the nature and depth of the catastrophe facing the mining industry in the autonomous regions of the Caribbean Coast.  Delgratia Mining Corporation has virtually monopolized concessions there.  Although its activities, or paucity thereof, are highly suspect,  the government looks on --seemingly unconcerned.

Edgard Solorzano's questions appear in italics.
 

How would you define the situation of natural resource exploitation in the Atlantic Coast?

The situation in the autonomous regions is catastrophic, especially
with regard to natural resources.  Last summer fires destroyed forests
inflicting more destruction than Hurricane Joan [in 1988].  We should recall that Hurricane Joan destroyed a half million hectares of forests in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region.  The recent fires burned down more than 800 thousand hectares of forests.  Most likely more fires will be ignited in the months of November and December through May next year.  Forests burn for months and months and no one does anything.

When forests burn down fish are affected because there is a direct link
between forest and fish.  The first cycle in the life of marine species
begins with the transformation of leaves.  No forest, no fish  --  the other
fundamental resource of our region.

Maritime resources are being destroyed.  Meanwhile no control of foreign fleets is in place -- and they have no interest in conserving maritime
resources.  What they attempt to do is take the most they can in the least
amount of time and with the minimum investment possible.

Do mineral resources present the same scenario?

First, we should recall that our country is privileged - we are the only country in which gold was formed in two well defined stages.  Gold began to form 50 million years ago at the beginning of the Tertiary Period. Most Atlantic Coast mines have rocks of gold concentrates from that age. Later another geological stage some 25 million years ago left rocks with good gold deposits in the Pacific areas.  These two geological formations are superimposed in the whole central part of the country.  Hence those who
understand this matter deeply are utterly convinced that Nicaragua has
excellent, as yet unidentified deposits, especially gold.

Is this privilege public or is it still hidden?

Nicaragua's privileged position with respect to gold is known by international companies.  Since 1990 Dona Violeta's  government began work to put in place an sure-footed system for regulating mining in our country and for attracting private investment.

Obviously, mineral production is costly.  We can't get around that.  But
foreign firms are certain there are mineral deposits in our country.  That's
why they're interested in our country and why regulation of mineral
production was so successful...

Successful for whom?

An enterprise - Delgratia Mining - controls more than 50% of  lands
where expert geologists are sure there are valuable mineral deposits.

How did Delgratia acquire this control?

The system should not have operated like that because an agile mining
policy would not allow anyone to establish a monopoly over territory.   In
1980 the government had a monopoly over the whole territory and the system didn't work.  One thing the system has to block is the setting up of any monopoly or oligopoly.  But here we are talking about a monopoly over one of the basic resources not only on the Atlantic Coast, but in the entire country.

What did Delgratia do to establish this monopoly?

It organized a series of "paper companies" and through them applied
for  concessions in extensive territories of the country.   According to the
system, when a firm makes an application, and this application is registered - but not necessarily accepted, the applicant has control of exploration within the land extension involved, based on the principle of
"first-in-line, first in rights".   According to new mining legislation applicants have to make strong investments in exploration.   A smaller investment is required in the first year, but in the second year twice as much must be invested and in the third year, three times as much as in year one.  But once an application for a concession is made and registered,  but not approved,  no investment has to be made.  Nevertheless, the applicant retains control over the land in question and no one else can explore for minerals in the area.   Meanwhile undercover efforts can be carried out in the territory to ascertain whether or not significant mineral deposits exist there.

Those are the two mechanisms that this firm uses to maintain a monopoly over the country's  mineral resources.  But the problem is that this firm is
being accused of fraud in the US judicial system.

In what way does that accusation prejudice our country?

First of all, this offense is one of the most serious in the mining sector in the United States.    They adulterated samples from a property they were exploring in Nevada and then sent it on to a phony laboratory.

Hence we have a monopoly and gold deposits under the control of a firm
accused of fraud.  The former government did nothing about this.  Neither is this government doing anything about the matter, despite knowing the facts about the situation of that firm.  This casts a bad light on our country.

What's the other side of the coin?  Is there an alternative?

If mining were functioning well it could be providing our country's
economy with 250 million dollars a year.   We could fight poverty with those funds.  But for that we have to find a  way to utilize our mineral resources wisely.

So then, what can be done?

I think civil society has to speak out.  It's obligated to care for our
natural resources,  which can alter the critical situation the country is
going through.  We have to pressure so that laws are complied with,  on
behalf of our present and our future.


 

AUTONOMY, SEPARATISM, AND  NICARAGUAN FEARS

"Nothing to fear but __?__ itself..."

by Miguel Gonzalez P.,
Vice-Rector, URACCAN-Bluefields

The dignified voices of Costeno elders have given rise to fears among the
Nicaragua nation.  Our Nicaragua is a tiny, just emerging community,
inhabited by six distinct ethnic communities: -- Miskitu, Creole English, Spanish, Sumu-Mayangna, Sumu-Ulwa, Rama, and Garifuna.  It is dotted with hundreds of communities, many of them on the Caribbean Coast.  Our national community has not yet consolidated itself; but it abounds in wealth and diversity.

Regional autonomy is the space we Costenos have chosen to unite ourselves firmly with Nicaragua; to try to leave far, far away from us the abuses and injuries previous national governments had committed against our indigenous peoples and communities that today make up vast territories and two autonomous regions.  Autonomy is an administrative power we Costenos have over our regional affairs; this right is based in the unity of the State and protected by the national Constitution.

Nicaragua is one rich and diverse land.  Costenos in their great majority do not embrace separatist options against our emerging national community. Neither have the Elders' Councils threatened Nicaragua with separatist proposals.  It's the national media that have gone riot over a supposed national split.  Those expressing such fears are themselves creators of a false "mestiza identity", this founding myth of Nicaraguan identity that shatters into a thousand pieces whenever our Indigenous, Creole, and Garifuna people appear on TV.  The frightened are idolizers of a false "Nation State", now in disuse; zealous guardians of an ethereal concept called "sovereignty", now overturned by globalization.  Fearful too are those who bare  weak knees in face of foreign concessions and neo-enclave economies, those who can only see the Coast as an historic reservoir of natural wealth up for speedy grabs.

Frightened too are those who see the State as collateral and who find it
difficult to think about "national unity" in any other way. If they were at
least sensitive enough to understand that on the Coast that same idea of a
"Nicaraguan State" is only associated with practices of political domination, bellicose conflicts, electoral campaigns, disputes over land and natural resources, and also with systematic humanitarian social work. State institutions in these regions don't even have a real existence; they
function with maximally reduced human, budgetary, and technical resources and do not really cover the region.

On the Coast Nicaragua sees itself in its own mirror.  We are its conscience. The reflected image is that of its own national history: a frayed unity; rotted-through with cultural mismatches and profound ignorance in the face of diversity.  Today the Coast is apathetic towards national political institutions.  However, it is precisely that historical, linguistic, and cultural diversity which unites Nicaragua today.  Regional autonomy is necessary because the Nicaraguan State is weak; its essence is an intercultural community still in formation and growth.

Nicaragua is a national idea that has managed to form its own State.
Atlantic Coast regional autonomy is our particular expression of national
unity that we Costenos offer towards building one Nicaragua for all.


 

Mail/Email

URACCAN Leader in Alberta and the NWT

Alta Hooker, Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine and
Community Health -- affiliated to URACCAN -- has been traveling in Western Canada, invited by the Arctic Institute and the University of Calgary. Below is a letter from Dr. Joan Ryan of the U of C letting us in on some of her activities.

Calgary, June 15, 1998

Alta Hooker is the guest of Arctic Institute and the University of Calgary
this week.  Next week, she will be the guest of the Dene Cultural Institute
in Hay River, NWT and Nat'Senelu, the women's group in Ft. Simpson, NWT.

In the first week here, Alta attended the University's native student
graduation and pow-wow. She has traveled to see Kanaska country and a dinner of welcome was hosted for her by Joan Ryan; it was attended by several Spanish speaking couples and potential volunteers for URACCAN.

The Arctic Institute hosted lunch for a small group which included Maureen Wilson of Social Work, Alistine Andre from Tsiigehchic, NWT, Monique Ross from the Canadian Institute for Resource Law, Barry Hochstein, Director of Professional Services for Arctic Institute and Mike Robinson, Director of the Institute.

Alta will be formally welcomed to the University on June 15th by the
Vice-Presidents Academic and Research at a reception which will be
attended by faculty and graduate students from Social Sciences, Law,
Management, Medicine, Nursing, Native Centre, Education, and Social Work.  Attending as well will be several city groups who have an interest in Central America.  A small dinner will follow.

In the following days, Alta will meet with individuals from various
faculties, will visit the Native Women's Shelter, and will travel to two
reserves to see health centers, meet with elders and see sacred sites.

As of Friday June 19th, Alta and Joan will travel north to the Hobbemma
reserve where she will meet the local Cree people and visit a major healing Centre. They will pick Maureen up in Edmonton and travel to Hay River and Ft. Simpson. The Leader of the Northwest Territories government has also invited Alta to fly to Yellowknife to meet with him.  It is not certain whether this can be done in the time frame available but we are trying to work it out.

Dr. Joan Ryan
University of Calgary
 

A note of thanks from Bluefields compucenter

This message is just to tell everyone who has been supporting our efforts on the computer lab here in Bluefields that we are running a solid program right now.

The lab currently has 12 machines working and we will soon be installing a network.

At present we are teaching 4 separate groups - 2 of URACCAN students, and 2 curso libre groups.

In addition, the students who live on campus are beginning to use the lab to do work (mostly write papers) on the machines.

We just wanted to thank everyone, particularly Takashi and Aram for all
their hard work on this project.  Without their continuous support, we wouldn't be doing anything.  Thanks guys!

Have a nice day everyone.

Eric and Ada
Universidad de las Regiones Autonomas de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua (URACCAN) Bluefields Campus (505) 822-1306
autonomy@ibw.com.ni


 

HUMOR
 

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

KINDERGARTEN TEACHER:  To get to the other side.

PLATO:  For the greater good.

ARISTOTLE:  It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

TIMOTHY LEARY:  Because that's the only trip the establishment
would let it take.

SADDAM HUSSEIN:  This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

RONALD REAGAN:  I forget.

CAPTAIN JAMES KIRK:  To boldly go where no chicken
has gone before.

GEORGE BUSH: This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we
were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on them.

HIPPOCRATES:  Because of an excess of phlegm in its pancreas.

ANDERSEN CONSULTING:  Deregulation of the chicken's side of the road was threatening its dominant market position. The chicken was faced with significant challenges to create and develop the competencies required for the newly competitive market.

Andersen Consulting, in a partnering relationship with the client, helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes.  Using the poultry Integration Model (PIM), Andersen helped the chicken use its skills, methodologies, knowledge, capital and experiences to align the chicken's people, processes and technology in support of its overall strategy within a Program Management framework.

Andersen Consulting convened a diverse cross-spectrum of road
analysts and best chickens along with Andersen consultants with deep skills in the transportation industry to engage in a two-day itinerary of meetings in order to leverage their personal knowledge capital, both tacit and explicit, and to enable them to synergize with each other in order to achieve the implicit goals in delivering and successfully architecting and implementing an enterprise-wide value framework across the continuum of poultry cross-median processes.  The meeting was held in park-like setting, enabling and creating an impactful environment which was strategically based, industry-focused, and built upon a consistent, clear, and unified market message and aligned with the chicken's mission, vision, and core values.  This was conducive towards the creation of a total business integration solution.  Andersen Consulting helped the chicken change to become more successful.

LOUIS FARRAKHAN:  The road, you see, represents the black man.
The chicken "crossed" the black man in order to trample him and keep him down.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.:  I envision a world where all chickens
will be free to cross roads without having their motives called
into question.

MOSES:  And God came down from the Heavens, and he said unto the
chickens, "Thou shalt cross the road". And the chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing.

FOX MULDER:  You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How
many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?

RICHARD NIXON:  The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the
chicken did NOT cross the road.

MACHIAVELLI:  The point is that the chicken crosses the road. Who
cares why? The end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive
there was.

JERRY SEINFELD:  Why does anyone cross the road? I mean, why
doesn't anyone ever think to ask, what the heck was this chicken doing walking around all over the place, anyway?

FREUD:  The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

BILL GATES:  I have just released the new Chicken Office 2000,
which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your cheque book.

OLIVER STONE:  The question is not, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"  Rather, it is, "Who was crossing the road at the same time, whom we overlooked in our haste to observe the chicken crossing?"

DARWIN:  Chickens, over great periods of time, have been
naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically
disposed to cross the roads.

EINSTEIN:  Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved
beneath the chicken depends on your frame of reference.

BUDDHA:  Asking this question denies your own chicken nature.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON:  The chicken did not cross the road. It
transcended it.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY:  To die. In the rain.

COLONEL SANDERS:  I missed one?

KARL MARX:  Being determines consciousness.

GOETHE:  In the beginning was the Act.
 

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