Nicaragua Canal and Fourth Locks for Panama Canal

1. Nicaragua’s 6 million people are among the poorest, with as many as a quarter living on less than two dollars a day, which makes subsistence farming all the more important.

President Ortega has described the canal, which would dwarf the old Panama Canal and the new one under construction as well, as “phase two” of the Nicaraguan revolution. He vows that it will create 250,000 jobs, lift Nicaragua out of poverty and make it the maritime capital of the world. He has dismissed canal critics as anti-revolutionary and anti-development. If Ortega pulls it off, it would secure his legacy and could pave the way for his favourite son Laureano, who negotiated the Chinese deal, to take over the dynasty.

Plans to construct a $50 billion shipping canal and channel 175 miles long and more than 500 yards wide have triggered protests. Construction is due to begin before the end of December (the announced start date is December 22nd, 2014), which means that lands will be taken, villages relocated. The canal project will bisect Lake Nicaragua—Central America’s largest lake—and forcibly displace almost 300 communities, including Rama and Creole settlements from protected indigenous territories on the Caribbean coast.

Construction of Nicaragua’s $50 billion Interoceanic Grand Canal, expected to rival the Panama Canal, will begin Dec. 22 after feasibility studies have been approved, the committee overseeing the project said

2. China has already expressed interest in construction of the fourth set of locks in Panama.

The Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano held an informative meeting recently with a delegation headed by Mo Wenhe, Chairman of the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and Wei Hua Wang, representative of the Chinese-Panamanian Office of Business Development.

A fourth set of Panama locks might only cost about $10 billion instead of the $40-50 billion for the Nicaragua canal.