The Nicaraguan Canal: Digging with a Needle

 “Getting money is like digging with a needle, spending it is like water soaking into sand.” ~Japanese Proverb.

          The Proposed Route of the Nicaraguan Canal

canal route copy
I may be naïve, but I subscribe to the idea that nobody is making strategic decisions about the Nicaraguan Canal Project. I’ve followed the Nicaraguan Canal Project for two years, now. The talk is grand, but the transparency surrounding the canal is nonexistent.

I know very little about the Nicaraguan Canal Project, even after extensive research. Who is Wang Jing? Who is really running the show? What is the environmental impact and where is the research? Is this grand canal project really going to happen? Who are the investors?

I’ve read all the latest conspiracy theories and the more research I do, the more questions I have. It’s like digging with a needle. Before I picture our oasis of peace turning into a scene out of Mad Max: Thunderdome, I would really appreciate a little transparency.

Looking at the map, the margin of impact affects almost half of Ometepe Island. The canal will practically be in our front yard. I can’t even begin to imagine what will happen to our Biosphere Reserve, the environmental impact on many fragile ecosystems, the loss of indigenous people’s homeland, and the displacement of thousands of people, livestock, farmland, and homes.

Here is a link to an article More Questions over the Economy of the Canal. It is in Spanish, but asks the same questions we are all wondering and it explains the cost of the canal and who will really profit from the canal. It sure isn’t Nicaragua.

Will it really happen and at what cost? Your guess is as good as mine.


 At what cost? I’d really like to know.

A Brief History of non-U.S. Attempts to Build A Nicaraguan Canal

Ortega Revives Nicaragua Canal Fantasy

Nicaragua Taps China for Canal Project

The Nicaraguan Canal: digging in the dark

15 thoughts on “The Nicaraguan Canal: Digging with a Needle

  1. We need to rise up united and stop this insanity. This is not going to benefit the Nicaraguan people (Except the Ortega family) beyond whatever peanuts we’ll get for lifting cinder blocks and shoveling dirt.You SHOULD NOT have to move from the land you call home. We should invest in our natural resources instead of destroying them. Contrary to what pessimists believe we DO have the power to stop this…

  2. Oh no! This project has been rumored about for years but it seems like the plans are really being carried out soon. Hopefully someone stops this before it’s too late.

  3. This makes me sad. We visited Nicaragua 16 months ago and haven’t stopped talking about it since- and Ometepe was amazing! We’ve been dreaming about moving there and we had heard about this potential canal but is it definitely on now? I thought it was a no go without support from Costa Rica?

    • Megan, Ometepe Island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This canal will destroy our island. Costa Rica will probably join this fight because of the loss of fresh water from Lake Cocibolca, which feeds Costa Rica, too. There is no support for this monstrosity on Ometepe Island, and less and less support in Nicaragua. The first shovel of dirt will certainly cause more people to wake up and fight this monster. Most people don’t believe this will ever happen…but I’m still curious as to the motive. Nicaragua is the biggest loser in it all. I just posted a news article ( in Spanish only) where Nicaraguan experts in geology, biology, and economics ask more questions and express more concerns.

    • Lynne, right now, it’s all talk with meetings in each region of Nicaragua about how the marvelous canal will improve our lives in Nicaragua. But, when I see the first shovel of dirt…I’ll start to worry. They say this canal will be completed in 2019 and work starts in December. Ha! It’s Nicaragua. How can they sell such a ridiculous statement to us without any proof? Something is not quite right…I don’t know what…but right now, it’s wait…and wait…and wait some more.

  4. Ecuador would greet you with open arms amiga. There’s been talk for years of building a new highway from Manta to Bahia right on the beach, including our wonderful piece of paradise. That would totally destroy our village, the fishing from the beach would disappear as well as the tourism. No beach, no tourists. The latest we heard is that the idea has been nipped in the bud, but if that should change we would be moving to another small fishing village somewhere along the coast here.

    • What I don’t understand is why don’t they call in the engineers and experts for an environmental impact study before making ridiculous plans, like your new highway? Your beaches along the coast are suffering now and you are losing valuable beach from the unusually high tides. What is wrong with people? I am shaking my head in the absurdity of it all. Fracking has destroyed my home state of Pennsylvania and coal mining killed my grandfather-in-law. What is wrong with our world? Sigh! I hope your highway never comes to pass. Are we destined to travel the world searching for a pristine place? Is there a pristine place left in the world? You can be our scouts. If this canal really happens, which I doubt, we may be your neighbors.

  5. >> I may be naïve, but I subscribe to the idea that nobody is making strategic decisions about the Nicaraguan Canal Project.

    I disagree. This thinking is COMPLETELY strategic. It’s all about the long term money.
    While I am sure they will mouth concerns about the environment those concerns will be so far down the list that only a optimist would think those concerns will get anything more than a quick once over.
    Those tens of thousands of ships a year are going to power themselves across the lake. How could they NOT pollute and bring in invasive organisms? Luckily people can simply look at the Panama Canal for a environmental study but if you think anything bad will NOT be white washed or simply dismissed out of hand you need to study human nature and the power of billions of dollars.

    This project is red meat in front of starving dogs. Billions in future revenue and thousands of jobs is going to crush ANY other concerns. You better get used to the idea that this is going to happen and make plans now.
    If it’s just too much to tolerate the only real hope is that you can get some agreements in place (Right of Imminent Domain) that the government will buy you out so you can move and start over somewhere else.

    >>Who is Wang Jing?

    He is a multibillionaire front man for this job but … does it really matter? China nationals like him are usually required to spend their money within China so he had to ask permission of the powers that be to do this project.
    In one fell swoop China will be able to bypass the US controls at the Panama Canal, get a canal that will handle the largest cargo ships and it won’t cost them a cent directly. They also get to brag about yet another “largest project in the world and China did it”.
    Is there REALLY any way he would not have been granted permission to do this project? That he does not have the full support of the Central Committee?

    This project is going to include all sorts of infrastructure improvements. New sources of electricity, new sources for clean water and waste disposal, hundreds of thousands of dwellings. Cities are going to spring up like mushrooms. Two state-of-the-art super cities will just appear like magic on each end of the canal.

    Watch this video and tell me of ONE parent that would want their 9 year old daughter going off to work rolling cigars when they could be going to the school that this canal would fund.

    Also, do not forget the infinite supply of cheap labor just to your north. Even if they have to bus in foreign workers and guard them from hostile locals… well, just examine US history to see how that worked out for the locals.
    Look at the coal miners in the US and how rabidly they protect their only source of income even though they know it will cost many of them their very lives. The Nicaragua Canal project will be far less deadly and will (most likely) have far less negative environmental effects than the strip mining that goes on to this day.

    Do you REALLY have any doubts that is project is not going to be, “Full steam ahead!” and dam the cost?

    • Ralph, I believe much of what you say is true. What I disagree with is your statement that the Nicaragua Canal project will have far less negative environmental impact than strip mining. There is no environmental impact study that has been released to the public. When I speak of the lack of transparency and the lack of strategic decisions, I am focusing on the environmental impact and the affects of the biggest engineering project in human history on our main supply of fresh water for Central America.
      Lake Cocibolca is a very shallow lake. There is one deep trench located near Altagracia. I suppose that’s why they used their crayons to draw a line close to Altagracia for the path of the canal. Yes, crayons. A five year old could have chosen the projected path from a choice of 5 routes for all we know.
      Because Lake Cocibolca is very shallow, the dredger has to open the route for the ferries approximately once a year, just for the ferries to pass from the mainland to Ometepe. What do you think they will have to do to make the route passable for giant cargo ships? Dynamite. Yes, they will have to dynamite the entire route through the lake. And, it’s on an active fault line. Active! We frequently have earthquakes on Ometepe. Not to mention that the dynamite could awaken our very active Vulcan Concepcion.
      Why all the secrecy? Wang Jing is not an engineer, nor is he a millionaire. He went to a Chinese herbal medicine school for a couple of years. Most of his projected projects in several countries, including his telecommunications company are gathering cobwebs on paper only. So what’s up with this guy? Who is really running the show and what are their motivations?
      You can talk about all the jobs that this project will provide and the improvements of the infrastructure in Nicaragua. The talk is grand. That’s currently how this project is being “sold” in Nicaragua. But, at what cost? No research, no forethought, no “experts”, no transparency. Something is very wrong with this picture. Don’t you think that for the greatest engineering feat in human history, there would be a little transparency? My two cents worth is that this project will never be completed in my lifetime…if it is even started. It’s Nicaragua…I think…we could be a Chinese territory now for all I know. Talk is cheap.

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