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Four years later, Nicaragua’s $40 billion interoceanic canal remains a pipe dream

There are fears that Wang could now use his 50-year concession to sell the rights to ports

From the Miami Herald:

Four years ago last month, Daniel Ortega made headlines across the world by announcing that a Chinese firm would build a $40 billion interoceanic canal in Nicaragua, which would compete with the Panama Canal and turn Nicaragua from a poverty-stricken nation into a global shipping power overnight.

In a move that looked like it was taken out of one of Gabriel García Márquez’s “magic realism” novels, Ortega ordered his loyalist congress to approve a “special law” on June 13, 2013, basically turning over the country’s national sovereignty for 50 years — with an option to extend it for another 50 years — to a then mysterious Chinese businessman named Wang Jing.

The law gave Wang’s company, Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., HKND, an exclusive concession to build an interoceanic canal and seven related projects, including ports, airports and tourism resorts.

Wang, the Chinese business magnate, went to Nicaragua in 2013 and launched the project next to Ortega at a ceremony that made big headlines worldwide.

Earlier this week, I called Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the publisher of Nicaragua’s prestigious Confidencial news magazine, to ask him about the current status of Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal.

“There’s nothing, absolutely nothing,” Chamorro told me. “They widened that 3.7-mile dirt road by about 40 inches, and that was it. It remains a dirt road.”

There are fears that Wang could now use his 50-year concession to sell the rights to ports, airports and tourism complexes, with zero benefit for the Nicaraguan people. It would be a textbook case of how authoritarian regimes often become the most incompetent, and the most corrupt.

More at the Miami Herald

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