From email@example.com Fri Jun 28 15:21:53 2002
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 10:45:10 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
More than 10,000 peasant farmers and workers, who belong to the
indigenous people of the northern municipality of Telpaneca, declared
themselves prepared to take direct action to reclaim territory ceded
in an illegal manner to the liquidators of Interbank. Interbank
was brought down last year by the murky dealings of financier brothers
Sazl and Alex Centeno. The brothers are currently on the run, hotly
pursued by a whole pack of claims for fraud.
Late last year, the indigenous communities decided to take matters
into their own hands when the liquidators of the banks assets tried to
take possession of about 4,000 acres of mostly agricultural land,
claiming that the Centeno brothers had used it as collateral, had
defaulted on their debt, and so had forfeited the property. The
indigenous farmers counter-attacked, driving the bank people off and
filing with the courts a claim of
Usurpation of Private Domain.
The farmers are still on the land, defying all attempts to move them
out. They appealed to both the Supreme Court of Justice and to the
Appeals Court in Estelm; the latter ruled that the liquidators could
not continue with their plans to sell the land until the Supreme Court
handed down its decision in the case.
In what seemed a suspiciously convenient manner, several indigenous people were then accused of having stolen roughly one hundred and fifty US dollars from a house on the territory in dispute. This was used to try to discredit the indigenous claim, but was eventually thrown out of court for lack of evidence.
Local judge Gladis Berrios Mendoza said it had been impossible for her to assess the situation on the properties in dispute since her transportation, supposedly to be provided by the indigenous as plaintiffs, had not materialized, and, in any case, the land was occupied by more than 300 small farmers, each armed with his machete. She observed that, although the liquidators had filed a claim against the indigenous leaders, she could do nothing further about it since the liquidators had withdrawn from the legal process after having made the denunciation.
Josi Miguel Hernandez Muqoz, president of the indigenous people, said
they would be engaging in constant acts of protest in order to hold
onto the two farms. He warned that some twenty-three communities had
declared themselves ready to take part in marches and
it takes. No one knows how far they will have to go to suit their
actions to their words, although there was already the threat that the
farmers might drive calves off the disputed land since bank
liquidators had rented part of it to private cattle ranchers.