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From owner-imap@chumbly.math.missouri.edu Fri Jun 28 15:21:53 2002
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 10:45:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: NicaNet <NicaNet@afgj.org>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 140943
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Indigenous People of Telpaneca Rebel

Nicaragua Network Hotline,
24 June 2002

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had filed a claim against the indigenous leaders, she could do nothing further about it since the liquidators had withdrawn from the legal process after having made the denunciation.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 whatever else 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.