Monday, April 04, 2016

Lost in Nicaragua, a Chinese Tycoon’s Canal Project

By SUZANNE DALEY, NYT
APRIL 3, 2016

BRITO, Nicaragua — A Spanish explorer conducted the first survey to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans here in the 16th century. Napoleon III of France dreamed about it. The railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt briefly had rights to do it. Nicaragua’s history is littered with dozens of failed canal schemes.

But when a Chinese billionaire, Wang Jing, officially broke ground in a field outside this sleepy Pacific Coast village about a year ago, many Nicaraguans believed that this time, finally, they would get their canal.

And not a small one, either. Three times as long and twice as deep as the Panama Canal, it would slice 170 miles across the southern part of the country — bulldozing through fragile ecosystems, virgin forests and scenes of incredible beauty. It would allow for the passage of the world’s largest ships, vessels the length of skyscrapers that are too big for the Panama Canal.

Yet 16 months later, Mr. Wang’s project — it would be the largest movement of earth in the planet’s history — is shrouded in mystery and producing angry protests here. President Daniel Ortega has not talked about the canal in public for months. And there are no visible signs of progress. Cows graze in the field where Mr. Wang officially began the project.

(More here.)

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