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Nicaragua Grand Canal, between ambition and madness

Gran Canal_di_NicaraguaIt is almost time. In a few weeks the site of one of the most ambitious projects of the century should open: the construction of a competing channel to the Panama Canal, to absorb the increasing traffic of cargo ships from all all over the world (according to estimates). History repeats itself and thus the dream of a Grand Canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean through Nicaragua is coming true. And as the day of the beginning of the works approaches, the controversy increases. Like all pharaonic projects, the Grand Canal represents a huge opportunity for the future of the country, but it could also turn into a disaster from an environmental, social and cultural point of view.

Or at least in part.

The Gran Canal Interoceanico – this is the full name of the project, will be 278 kilometers long, 30 meters deep, and 520 meters wide at the widest points. It will cost approximately $50 billion and it will require the work of 50,000 people including workers, carpenters, laborers, technicians, engineers, supervisors, and so on. According to the government of Nicaragua, that's a deal. But not everyone agrees. Miles and miles of tropical forest and freshwater basins, where rare wildlife lives, will be disturbed by the bulldozers and dredges. A threat to one of the most valuable ecosystems of our planet.

Behind the operation HKND, strange Chinese Company

To make the project even more controversial is the company that will handle the construction and the management of the Grand Canal, with an exclusive concession for a period of 100 years. The Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (also known as HKND) is everything but a transparent business. It would be enough to visit the official website dedicated to the Ecotourism Zonas to realize that their interest in the international community is equal to zero. One wonders what Augusto César Sandino, the man who inspired the Sandinista movement still in power with president Daniel Ortega, would do. While Sandino fought against the invading US, Ortega is welcoming the new Chinese invader.

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