© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Nicaragua Canal: A Waterway To Development Or Disaster?

Jorge Mejia Peralta

  The Panama Canal marked its centennial this year. But another place engineers have always wanted to build a waterway across Central America is Nicaragua. Construction on a Nicaragua canal started last week – and so did protests, there and here.

The Nicaragua Grand Canal, as it’s called, will cost an estimated $50 billion. And at 173 miles it will be more than five times longer than the Panama Canal.

Left-wing President Daniel Ortega insists the canal is Nicaragua’s ticket to development. But critics – including leaders of Miami’s Nicaraguan community – say there are too many questions about the financial, environmental and human costs.One concern is how little is known about the canal’s Hong Kong construction firm and its chairman, Chinese telecom tycoon Wang Jing. Another is the damage the project could do to Lake Nicaragua, a key fresh water supply. Some 30,000 poor farmers will also be displaced.

Those issues brought hundreds of Nicaraguan protesters out this week. Many were injured or arrested (protesters claim two people were killed in the unrest) when they tried to block the Pan-American Highway. Nicaraguan-Americans here, who make up South Florida's largest Central American community, are urging Washington to monitor the alleged police violence.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
More On This Topic