Save the Pine Bush, You can fight City Hall and win!

Jerry Mueller brings Lasagna to Nicaragua

The Pine Bush as Example for the World

by Lynne Jackson

In 1987, when Save the Pine Bush was only 9 years old, and before any major acquisition of land had occurred because of our lawsuits, I attended a speech made by an friend of mine who had just come back from El Salvador. She described the conditions for the people of this country, and of people "disappearing." I was extremely upset by her descriptions, thinking how could I spend all of this time working on trying to protect some trees and butterflies when people were being killed by their government. I was so upset, my husband spoke to my friend. She told my husband that when the people in El Salvador solved their current problems, they would be looking to groups like Save the Pine Bush as an example for how to deal with their environmental problems. I took comfort in her words, and continued to volunteer for our Pine Bush.

It was with great delight to hear our June dinner speaker Jerry Mueller tell us about describing lasagna dinners to the Rama Indians he is working with in Nicaragua. Jerry is using his experience and the experiences of Save the Pine Bush to help the Rama with their own land use issues in Nicaragua. My acquaintance was right when she said people would be looking to us for examples of how to deal with environmental problems.

The Rama people face a similar problem to the problem of Pine Bush preservation &emdash; only it is their survival that is on the line.

Before the Panama Canal was built, there was a serious proposal to build the canal through Nicaragua. Nicaragua is the lowest path from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean. Panama won building the canal, because they passed out postage stamps to members of congress which showed volcanos in Nicaragua. So, the canal was built in Panama.

Now, there is a proposal for a "dry canal" or railroad across Nicaragua. This would include a huge Caribbean port, where enormous container ships could be unloaded and the containers transferred to rail. This port would be built in the rain forest where the Rama people live.

Jerry is working with a lawyer in Bluefields, Nicaragua, to help with research that will be used in lawsuits, specifically having to do with the Rama ancestral lands. The Rama have no maps of the land they own and the land registry system in Nicaragua is chaotic. Their land is being encroached upon by people moving east into the rain forest. Jerry is helping to map their land. Using a GPS (global positioning system), Jerry goes with a few Rama in a dug-out canoe or on foot. The GPS picks up signals from satellites and can determine a location exactly within 15-20'. The Rama point out that over there they raise banana trees, and here they fish, and here they raise fruit trees. Jerry uses his GPS device (it looks like a TV remote control) to determine the latitude and longitude of these locations. Then, Jerry draws the information on a map.

The Rama live partly in the stone age, and partly in the modern world &emdash; no stereotypes apply. The Rama are sea-people, they hunt sea turtles, manatees, fish and are great navigators. The Spanish did not invade the Rama home land because of the difficulty of traveling through the rain forest on land and because it was difficult by sea to transverse so many mouths of rivers.

For more information about the Rama, and how you can help, please contact Jerry at jerry_mueller@hotmail.com.

published August/September 2000 Newsletter
Last Updated 9/28/00


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