Monday, March 17, 2014

Melvin Miranda Molan, Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, SERENA

This is part of the government of RAAN, whereas MARENA is the counterpart in the Nicaraguan National Government.
RAAN is 33,000 km2.  We administer with GRAAN everything to do with the natural resources and environment.  Several ethnic groups with various traditions are in the area.  It is our job, and we guarantee, that all proceedings follow the law.  The constitution of Nicaragua recognizes the rights of the people of this area.  Law 28 gives the area autonomy and Law 445 deals with the property of indigenous and those of African descent.  There are more laws regarding natural resources, such as mining, forestry and fishing.  The new name for RAAN is RACCN (Costal Caribe instead of Atlantic).
Someone asked about fishing and scuba diving with respect to the islands and the international court case vs. Colombia.
Three nautical miles are reserved, not available for industrial fishing and the areas around the Gayos Moskitos are protected as well.  Those islands are the tail end of a coral reef that starts in Belize.  The native people fish in less than five meters deep water, by free diving with no tank.  Due to over-harvesting, the clawless lobsters (langostinos) have moved further out to deeper waters.  Because they must go deeper, some of the natives are getting decompression sickness – they are not trained for this deeper water.  They use scuba tanks, but due to lack of training are coming up too fast.  Companies who fish (bigger vessels) don’t want to pay for space at the wharf, so they contract with divers, but don’t train them.  There’s no contract between the diving recruiter and the company, and the divers get paid by the pound, encouraging the practices that are killing the divers.  If lobster diving is replaced by traps, then the divers would lose their work.
Sixty ships have been funded by the World Bank for little boats for fin fish and shrimp.  They’ve been working since last year.
Question – what kinds of animals live here? They are very diverse in the RAAN, especially in protected areas.  People eat them, including deer when in season.  The Masaya Volcano has vampire bats.  We have iguanas, turtles, wild boar, conch, and tapir to name a few.
Making jewelry from black coral and tortoise shell is now illegal.  Green sea turtles don’t nest here, but they do swim in these waters.
Hurricane Felix of 2007 changed the landscape, knocking down 1 million ha of trees.  This ruined bio-diversity.  Agriculture moved in right behind.  People see an empty space and don’t realize it’s Moskito or protected land, and just move in.  There are crooked lawyers that “sell” land that is not theirs to sell.
Question – Is there any place to move these people to?  No.  There are a LOT of people moving in.  Some just keep moving – they cut trees, plant grass, sell the property, and move on.  The problem is so huge that there are not enough people to protect the land.  There would need to be 1000 ecological battalions, but there is only one here.
Question – what happens to settlers that are in National Park land, as opposed to indigenous land?  Only indigenous are supposed to be in the BOSAWAS reserve. 
Campesino mentality is that a tree is a bother – cut it down.
Question – How does SERENA get involved?  (He completely ignored the question).  He said, Even bigger is that the price of gold has gone up, so everyone’s looking for gold.
There’s an old hydroelectric dam in the reserve that is being rehabilitated by La Toῆa (the beer company).  It is illegal for them to do this.
One company that bought some land is Saltoyeye.
Question – what about re-planting deforested areas with hardwood tree farms and fruit trees?  (He didn’t answer the question.)  He said mining and logging companies buy some private land.  A German company is planting cacao is this area and the communities are to make some money off of cacao.
Question – why is ALBA Forestal in the BOSAWAS?  (He did not answer the question.)
In the Northern plains, on indigenous land, is a concession for gold – no more than 50,000 ha are allowed for exploring, which is a legal process.  Law 445 means they are supposed to consult with indigenous people – “this is SERENA business – to negotiate between extraction companies and the indigenous people.”  No new gold deposits have been found for over 100 years.
“We must consult with the 17 territorial governments and an administrator”.  Note that other groups have said that there are 23 territorial governments – not sure where the discrepancy is – perhaps RAAN vs both RAAS?  To ask for a concession, there must be resources.  If the territorial government says no, then the process is over.
Question – do the people really understand the ecological impact?  A) are the people interested in this development?  B) Is there an Environmental Impact Statement required?  He didn’t answer these questions.
Question – what about people downstream?  Are you supposed to ask their permission to pollute their water?  Answer – yes, we are supposed to ask them.
In general, people of the delegation didn’t like or trust this guy and maybe not his organization, SERENA.  It means that there is a layer of bureaucracy and salaries between the indigenous people and the extraction companies, so that they don’t really get the money.  He was evasive in his answers.  He has a fancy, air-conditioned building and looks like a rich guy.

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