Direct Exchanges with Indigenous Communities
From October 13 to 31, 2014, HKND Group and Environmental Resources Management (ERM) conducted a series of activities for direct dialogue with the 9 indigenous communities represented by the Rama-Kriol Territorial Government (GTR-K) which is located in the Autonomous Region of the Southern Caribbean (RACS) of Nicaragua, in collaboration with the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project Commission, the Autonomous Regional Government of the Southern Caribbean, Municipal Government of Bluefields and the GTR-K. The 9 communities include 6 Rama communities (Sumu Kaat, Tiktik Kaanu, Rama Cay, Wiring Cay, Indian River and Bangkukuk) and 3 Kriol communities (Graytown, Corn River and Monkey Point). 720 and more indigenous people participated in these activities.
The activity consisted of two parts: “informative meeting” and “characterization workshops”. The “informative meeting” was to present to the community members about the Canal Project and its progress, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and to have the participants’ opinions and concerns on the Project heard and responded directly.
The “characterization workshops” were to apply various participatory ethnic diagnoses, where the people of each community reconstructed their own socioeconomic and cultural characteristics with the help of researchers. The methods of the workshops were: visiting with the indigenous inhabitants the important and sacred sites (hunting, fishing, cultivation and archaeological sites); drawing social mapping of the community, including details of places with ancestral, cultural and economic importance; identifying the structure of the population, how people related and relationships with other social organizations; and developing a timeline for each community.
These activities had the following objectives: to thoroughly understand the lifestyles and cultural customs of the indigenous peoples of the GTR-K, as well as to identify impacts that may result from the Project to each community so as to improve the design of the Project and optimize the management measures for prevention, mitigation and/or compensation, for the maximum benefit to the people of this area.
The indigenous inhabitants were actively involved in the dialogues on the topics of the Canal Project, such as the environmental factors considered in the selection of the route, the progress of the Project, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, compensation to the inhabitants and settlers in the communal lands, conservation of the local cultural lifestyles and customs, mobility between the two sides of the Canal in the future and assurance of the employment of indigenous talent, among others.
The people who participated in these activities said they felt happy to talk directly with HKND Group and the government. They also expressed their hope that the construction of the Canal is made in the short term.
Bernard Li, Deputy General Manager of Public Relations Department, and other members of HKND Group participated in the activities at Rama Cay with community members from Rama Cay and Wiring Cay, at Bangkukuk with people from Bangkukuk and Monkey Point.
Also present at these activities were: Telémaco Talavera, spokesperson of the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project Commission; Jonny Hodgson, presidential delegate for South Caribbean and regional FSLN political secretary; Rubén Lopez Espinoza, Executive Director of the RACS; Danny Malespín, Rama-Kriol Legal Counsel of the RACS; Héctor Thomas McCrea, Rama Cay Community President and President of the GTR-K; Abelardo McCrea, Wiring Cay Community President and first member of the GTR-K; and Rupert Allen Clair Duncan, Monkey Point Community President and second member of the GTR-K.