Posts Tagged ‘Lake Nicaragua’

Ground broken for rival to the Panama Canal

December 23, 2014

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Ground was broken officially yesterday for a Chinese-financed canal across Nicaragua which, if completed, would be longer, deeper and wider than the Panama Canal.

The $50 billion project is to be financed by a Hong Kong company, the Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Group, which is controlled by a Chinese billionaire named Wang Jing.

The groundbreaking was mainly symbolic.  Engineering designs are scheduled to be submitted early next year and excavation to begin late next year.  Completion is scheduled for 2019 or 2020.

Whether the project actually will be built is uncertain.  There’s doubt as to whether Wang Jing, who is said to have made his fortune in telecommunications, is capable of financing and completing the project, and whether the Chinese government secretly stands behind him.

Many grass-roots Nicaraguans oppose the project, because it threatens Lake Nicaragua, the nation’s chief source of fresh water, and because it means taking the property of small farmers by eminent domain.

But if it is built, it would give China an important strategic foothold in the Western Hemisphere.

The United States spent more than $800 billion invading Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there and ties to Al Qaeda that didn’t exist.  China’s financing of construction projects is a much more cost-effective way of projecting its power.

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A Chinese Man, a $50 Billion Plan and a Canal to Reshape Nicaragua by Carrie Kahn for National Public Radio.

Nicaragua’s Rival to Panama Canal Set to Start Dec. 22 by Michael McDonald for Bloomberg News.

Nicaragua launches construction of inter-ocean canal by BBC News.

Nicaragua breaks ground on canal project by Al Jazeera.

The passing scene: November 6, 2014

November 6, 2014

New Shipping Canal in Nicaragua Faces Questions and Opposition by Jens Gluesing for Der Spiegel.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Nicaragua is proceeding with plans for a new canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which will be bigger than the Panama Canal.

The Nicaraguan Canal will be paid for and built by China, which will get a 50-year concession to operate the canal and an option for an additional 50 years.  It would give China a great foothold for expanding its economic influence in the Western Hemisphere.

The canal is scheduled for completion in just five years, although construction hasn’t started as yet.  Unlike the Panama Canal, it will be big enough to handle container ships.

Some Nicaraguans are opposed, because of the impact on Lake Nicaragua, source of most of the country’s drinking water, and because 30,000 Nicaraguans will be displaced from their homes to make way for the canal.  Others question whether the canal will be financially viable, since the Panama Canal is being expanded and other central American countries are building “dry canals”—railroads to transfer cargoes from one ocean to the other.

The New Loan Sharks by Susanne Soederberg for Jacobin magazine.

desperationnationStagnation of American wages and economic uncertainty have made payday loans a big business, because so many Americans are barely getting by and have no savings cushion for unexpected emergencies.

Payday loans are not a marginal part of the U.S. economy.  They are a big business financed by economic giants such as Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, and by Advance America, which is owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pilego.

The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster by Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica and Laura Sullivan of NPR.

The Red Cross is another charitable organization which has succumbed to the corporate model, which puts fund-raising and public relations ahead of doing its job.