Construction Begins on Nicaragua’s Environmental Disaster of a Canal

Proposed routes for the Nicaragua canal in red, the Panama canal is in blue. The route started this year will follow the second red line from the top. Image: ​CIA
News about Nicaragua’s proposed canal to connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is a lot like that old joke about the food in a Catskills mountain resort—it’s bad, and there’s such small portions of it. But despite clouds of questions about how the canal will be funded, the environmental and human impacts, and whether it will ever actually be finished, last week Nicaragua held a groundbreaking for the roads that will bring the machinery to build the port for the canal.


The idea of a canal that runs through Lake Nicaragua is older than the Panama Canal, dating back at least two centuries to Napoleon III, and perhaps even to the Spanish Conquistadors. But in the name of boosting the economy of one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, the idea has been dusted off by Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and the canal looks more and more like it will finally become reality. The groundbreaking is the first step, with the first excavations set to follow in the second half of 2015.

The project is currently being led by the Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd. According to Reuters, HKND Group “is controlled by Wang Jing, a little-known Chinese telecom mogul well-connected to China’s political elite.”

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