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by
Rick Moran

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December 15, 2013 - 9:43 am

Last I heard, the proposed Nicaraguan canal was a pipe dream that had little chance of being built.

But that was months ago. Since then, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega has signed off on the project, which is being funded by a Chinese billionaire telecommunications CEO Wang Jing. The Nicaraguan assembly approved the deal, which includes “a 50-year renewable concession to build a canal more than three times the length of the Panama Canal, as well as tax-free side projects including ports on Nicaragua’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts, an oil pipeline bisecting the country, a cargo railway, two free-trade zones and an international airport.”

Wang is making out like a Chinese bandit, as he is apparently also getting a lot of land along the canal at discount prices.

Needless to say, environmental groups are having apoplexy over a canal that destroys so much of the rain forest. And economics experts question whether the project is viable.

Daily Mail:

The deal pays Nicaragua $10 million a year for 10 years and gradually transfers ownership to Nicaragua, handing over 100 percent after a century. But the payments and the transfer only begin if and when the canal begins operation. Under the agreement, Wang can skip building the canal altogether but plow ahead with the other projects.

Critics fear this will leave Wang with a host of lucrative tax-free enterprises, and Nicaragua without the centerpiece of the deal or revenue from what actually gets built.

‘This is an astounding giveaway,’ said Noel Maurer, a Harvard Business School expert on Latin American development. ‘It’s just kind of like here’s a bunch of privileges, go build something.’

‘This is a worse deal than the original Panama Canal deal, which was not a good deal and not a deal that Panama voluntarily signed,’ Maurer said.

Manuel Coronel Kautz, a veteran Sandinista leader who manages Nicaragua’s Great Inter-Oceanic Canal Authority, said the government was confident the canal would ‘generate an enormous number of jobs for an impoverished country.’

Chief project adviser Bill Wild said Wang is spending large amounts of his own money to dispatch dozens of Chinese, Nicaraguan and Western experts around the country to conduct environmental and geological feasibility studies to be completed in coming months.

‘He’s not out there just to build these sub-projects,’ Wild said. ‘The canal is his vision, there’s no doubt of that if you talk to the guy.’

Wild said the heavily criticized canal concession was designed in good faith to fairly compensate Wang for taking a bold financial risk.

‘People expect a reasonable return, a good return,’ Wild said. ‘The return for Nicaragua in my books comes from the social benefit that comes from the existence of the canal.’

The legislation allows Wang to petition the state to confiscate any land needed. It requires him to pay owners the assessed value, but much of the property outside major cities has never been officially assessed, risking what private businesses fear could be a land grab for pennies on the dollar.

I smell boondoggle — a $50 billion hole in the ground that will massively harm the environment and fail to compete in a meaningful way with the Panama Canal.

Many legal and environmental experts charge that the canal deal violates national sovereignty, and construction could cause profound ecological damage to this rugged nation of lakes, cloud-wreathed volcanoes and thick tropical forest, by damming rivers, splitting ecosystems and moving untold tons of earth.

‘It’s basically handing over the whole country – water, air and land, without any studies,’ said Luis Callejas, an opposition congressman who was invited to join a 10-day trip to China sponsored by Wang in October for a group of prominent Nicaraguan businessmen and politicians.

After he announced he would present Wang with a letter decrying the secrecy and constitutional violations of the canal concession process, Callejas did not receive the promised visa to China, and the group left without him. A Sandinista lawmaker who abstained from voting in favor of the canal law was ejected from the party’s congressional caucus days later.

Well, that’s one way to sell the deal. Just stifle all opposition and threaten anyone who speaks up about how bad the agreement is.

Construction is supposed to start next year and take 5 or 6 years to complete. But Nicaragua being a communist country, expect that timetable to slip…and slip…and probably slip again. It is a massive engineering challenge. No one has ever attempted anything this big in such inhospitable terrain. We will follow their progress — or lack thereof — with great interest.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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I think we are looking at an inter-ocean canal here. A trans-ocean canal would run across an ocean, which should not really need a canal to start with.
For bonus points: which end of the Panama Canal, the Atlantic or the Pacific end, is to the east?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Øbama is so jealous of Ørtego so he'll be giving away some more of America's sovereignty in response.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Chinese have a long running, undercover colonization plan running in both Latin America and Africa. One day the folks there are going to wake up and find that they're a minority in their own countries. Added to the fact that by then everything therein will be owned or controlled by Chinese investors. They really do believe they have a Divine Grant to rule the world.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
......and, there's over a billion of them, and counting.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
These guys better get on the stick. The Panamanians are well along in their project to add a third set of bigger locks to the Panama Canal. The new locks will accommodate ships up to 1200 feet long and are scheduled for completion in 2015.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
back in the 50's during the swords into plowshares rage, it was proposed to build this canal using nukes to do the blasting. stay tuned for Chinese nukes in our backyard for "peaceful" purposes.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Operation Plowshare." Edward Tellers' baby. Preliminary tests apparently worked but it was judged too "dirty" to be practicable.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
It will be great to finally have a canal that US aircraft carriers can go through! LOL

I wouldn't worry about the terms of the contract, I'm sure neither side really plans to live up to them, and there are all sorts of side agreements that are probably twice as juicy.

Is it economically viable? Well, "what difference does that make now?", this is the twenty-first century y'all, and talk about your shovel ready.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um, I thought all our supercarriers ARE designed to go through the Panama Canal--Vaseline not included. Although there is a story of the then-new USS Nimitz tearing off several score lamp posts during its first transit of the locks in the 70's.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
No Nimitz class carrier can fit through the Panama Canal. They're simply too big. Even with the third set of locks which would accommodate the width, the superstructure is just too high to pass under the Bridge of the Americas.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dude, I think the only "economically viable" matter of any importance may have been the brobdingnagian bribes this Chinese gent slipped to ol' Danny and his inner circle.

This ain't Kansas Dorothy. You in the jungle, baby.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Costa Rica and Nicaragua have a long-running dispute over the San Juan River border, which may or may not still be a problem. The eastern portion of the proposed canal goes through the river. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Rica%E2%80%93Nicaragua_San_Juan_River_border_dispute

Be that as it may, I have seen hardly any mention of the potential impact of hurricanes should the Nicaraguan canal be finished and become operational. Getting to and from the eastern entrance would put ships in the path of hurricanes from June through at least October. The Panama Canal is well south of the area which hurricanes seem to enjoy and the shipping routes to and from Panama have had no comparable hurricane problems. The Panama Canal is also being expanded to deal with larger, more modern ships.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Costa Rica does not have an army, last time I checked.

End of discussion.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have vague memories of reading in a history textbook that back in the nineteenth century the Nicaraguan route was actually considered to be easier, if longer, from an engineering standpoint but was abandoned for political reasons.

Explorer Robert E. Peary went to the jungles of Nicaragua as a young civil-engineering officer to do a preliminary study in 1888.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
...can skip building the canal altogether but plow ahead with the other projects.

I wasn't allowed to post with the guy's name included.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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