water

Nicaragua’s Century-Old Dispute

January 2, 2017
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Indigenous communities in Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast are working to secure rights to broad "territories" based on traditional patterns of use and occupancy.  Nicaragua’s dispute over indigenous lands has claimed at least 30 lives since 2008. Two of those lives were lost[1] just a few weeks ago over this century-old dispute. The conflict has existed since the Mosquito Coast was annexed to Nicaragua more than 155 years ago.  The Miskitos were never conquered by the Spanish – for a long while, the region was a British protectorate.

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” goes the old saying. Eighteen years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tingni to property, by granting a concession to a company to carry out road construction work and logging without the consent of the Awas Tingni community.  Despite the native communities’ autonomy over the lands and preferential treatment under the law, a modern colonization-style land grab is underway as the Nicaraguan government looks the other way. The subsequent failure by the government to resolve the situation led to a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights[2] [PDF] in 2001, which confirmed the existence of the indigenous land rights in question, including the right of participation in matters affecting land rights and the requirement of the consultation with the Awas Tigni indigenous peoples.

But the law favors the indigenous. Perhaps the most important piece of legislation is  law 455[3] on the Communal Property System of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast and of the Bocay, Coco, Indio and Maíz Rivers which, from 2003 on, also stipulates the right to self-government in the titled communities and territories. The 2006 General Education Law[4] also recognizes a Regional Autonomous Education System (SEAR).  When the Sandinista National Liberation Front came to power in Nicaragua in 1979, they subsequently had to face an armed insurgency supported by the United States. Indigenous peoples from the Caribbean Coast, primarily the Miskitu, took part in this insurgency. In order to put an end to indigenous resistance, the Sandinista government created law 28[5] on the Autonomous Regions of the North and South Atlantic (RAAN/RAAS), on the basis of a New Political Constitution and the Autonomy Law.

Yet, despite the constitutional and statutory provisions upholding indigenous land rights and authority, the Nicaraguan government itself has taken no definitive steps toward demarcating indigenous lands. Under the Nicaraguan civil code, all lands not titled to private owners belong to the state. It appears then that the Nicaraguan government, particularly its agencies charged with natural resource development, has approached the issue of land grabbing from the indigenous primarily from the standpoint of a party interested in securing its own property interests in the resource-rich Atlantic Coast.

 

The Perils of Latin America's Drought

October 12, 2016
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Between the months of July and August of this year, in some parts of Latin America, there was no rainfall for 45 continuous days. While reservoirs and water systems are in place in most large cities across Central and South America, agriculture during those months suffered greatly. Across Central America, some of the poorest countries are being hit the hardest: 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are facing the repercussions of a long and unusual dry season.1

GSPIA, Universidad de los Andes Conclude First Semester of New Capstone Partnership

October 5, 2016
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The Bogotá River is a major source of water for Colombians in the province of Cundinamarca, which surrounds the country’s capital. It flows from the northeastern border of the area, skirts around Bogotá, and drops 515 feet at the magnificent Tequendama Falls. The Bogotá ends in southwest Cundinamarca, where it drains into the Magdalena River. Unfortunately, the Tequendama Falls have been known as “the largest wastewater falls in the world,” according to Canada’s International Development Research Center.

Watering the Classes: Mexico City's Water Shortage

April 26, 2016
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The COP21, United Nations Conference on Climate Change concluded earlier this month in Paris. Ahead of the talks, Mexico released a national strategy on climate change, pledging to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 2026. Mexico was one of the first countries to submit its climate change plan in advance of the Paris talks and their pledged cap on greenhouse emissions has been met with praise from countries such as the United States.

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