From Thu Dec 6 12:02:45 2001
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2001 16:31:50 -0600 (CST)
From: NicaNet <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 131467
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Peter Tsokos sells another island!

Nicaragua Network Hotline,, 3 December 2001

Peter Tsokos, a U.S. citizen of Greek origin living in Texas, has been selling beautiful Nicaraguan islands on his web site These islands, under the Nicaraguan constitution, belong in perpetuity to the indigenous people of the area who have used them for hundreds of years to obtain fresh water and harvest coconuts. They do not live on the islands. Tsokos claims to have bought titles to the islands, when in fact what he purchased were pieces of paper from the 19th century that were superceded by the Nicaraguan constitution and Autonomy Law of 1987 which re-established the traditional indigenous rights over the land.

One island, known as Water Cay, was recently sold to a businessman from Eugene, Oregon, named Christian Billard. The Eugene Register Guard notes that the island is located three miles off Nicaragua's Atlantic coast, is 20 acres in size, and is home to man-of-war birds and pelicans, lizards, orchids, pineapples, mangos and many, many coconuts. According to the newspaper, Billard paid something less than $1 million for the island.

Billard is in the midst of building a cozy but elegant thatched-hut-style resort for up to 12 guests on the island. Billard says that what his island will have is saltwater fly-fishing—extraordinary fly-fishing, making it worth every penny of the $2,295 per week charge for a seven-night package with five days of guided fishing.

Another island, known as Lime Cay, was sold to an English couple, the Gaskins. The Gaskins have cut off the island from the indigenous inhabitants of the area, disrupted the environment of the island and, most especially, the habitat of the Hawksbill Turtle.

On October 12, when a boat with ten officials from MARENA (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources), and the regional government as well as Advocate for the Environment Marianela Rocha attempted to visit the cay, in order to speak with the Gaskins and inquire about the environmental damage to the cay, they were met with gunshots. They shot to kill; these were not shots in the air! Rocha told the press afterward. She added that their boat had a sign identifying it as from the Ministry of the Environment.

The local mayor and judge have the authority to prohibit any activity on the cays until the courts rule in the case; however, they have not taken any action as of yet. Tsokos has sold a fifth cay to an American who has already begun to cut and burn vegetation, despite MARENA's orders not to do so.

The Nicaragua Network, working in conjunction with the Center for Assistance to Indigenous Peoples and lawyer Maria Luisa Acosta, is continuing its campaign to stop the sale of these islands which belong to the Miskitu people of Nicaragua's South Atlantic Autonomous Region. We will keep you informed about actions that you can take to support the local indigenous communities. Meanwhile, readers can write to Peter Tsokos, P.O. Box 536111, Grand Prairie, TX 75053, USA, Phone: (817) 861-1981, Fax: (817) 460-6607, E-mail: <> using the sample letter below or your own words. If you have any questions or would like more talking points to engage Mr. Tsokos by telephone, please contact the Nicaragua Network at or 202-544-9355.

Dear Mr. Tsokos,

I am writing to express my outrage at your treatment of the indigenous peoples of Nicaragua and to demand that you: 1) respect the ancestral territorial rights of Miskitu and Rama indigenous people of the Pearl Cays, Cane Creek, and Eagle Point; 2) cease and desist from selling, deforesting and developing ecologically fragile lands. 3) Inform Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Gaskin that they must cease obstructing the turtle preservation teams in the Cays. According to the Nicaraguan constitution, indigenous land cannot be bought, sold, or mortgaged. Furthermore, your destruction of ecologically fragile land is in direct violation of Nicaraguan environmental regulations, which mandate environmental impact studies before trees can be cut, etc.

Activists throughout the United States as well as in Nicaragua are aware of your activities. I hope you are aware of the serious problems that are a direct result of your illegal actions.

Sincerely, Your Name