Criticism of the organisation Global Witness and the coverage of Nicaragua in its latest report on ‘environmental defenders’ has so far failed to shift its stance, or even to persuade it to look in detail at the arguments. Here are the latest developments.
The Two Worlds article published on July 16 was accompanied by emails to GW and to the Guardian (who have given the GW report extensive publicity). Two UK-based organisations with lengthy experience of environmental issues in Central America then sent detailed criticisms to GW – the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign’s Action Group and the Environmental Network for Central America. GW sent a lengthy reply on July 20, but failed to address the detailed points about their characterisation of Nicaragua, their confusion of two completely separate issues (the planned interoceanic canal across the south of Nicaragua and land disputes in the extreme north) and whether they had properly described and registered the deaths of people involved in the land disputes. The Guardian was more forthcoming: their environment editor and former Latin America correspondent, Jon Watts, has promised that they will not mix the land disputes with the canal issue.
Because of GW’s poor response, a more detailed critique of their report was compiled by the NSCAG, ENCA and this author (John Perry) and sent to GW on July 25. Then on July 27, Helen Yuill from NSC and Sheila Amoo-Gottfried from ENCA attended a presentation by GW in London, at which they were able to ask questions about its coverage of Nicaragua, although the time available was very limited. A new blog, based on the new set of criticisms, was published by the environmental news site Mongabay on July 28. Completely independently, the Nicaraguan website Tortilla con Sal published its own criticism on August 2, a version of which then appeared on Venezuela’s Telesur website. The NSCAG and ENCA criticisms were also circulated in the United States, and my earlier blog was posted by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington and by the US Nicaragua Network’s Nicanotes.