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Daniel Ortega, who holds the office of President of Nicaragua in defiance of Nicaragua's Constitution, is championing a mega-project; a canal across the eastern part of Nicaragua that would provide an alternative to the Panama Canal. The estimated cost is $40 billion.

My initial reaction, when I heard about this is, Nicaragua's GDP is only $10.5 billion, and no foreign investor would be foolish enough to put up this kind of money to finance it.

I was wrong. Chinese billionaire Wang Jing is putting up the money, through the HKND Group, based in Hong Kong, and registered in the Cayman Islands. Jing and other Chinese see this project as reducing the time (and thus the cost) required to ship oil from Venezuela to China, and Chinese goods to the eastern United States. The  HKND Group has contracted the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) to do a feasibility study. CRCC is owned by the Chinese government, and was responsible for part of the Three Gorges Dam project.

Why do I say that this is a bad idea? Although there are several possible routes across Nicaragua, all of them go through Lake Nicaragua, which is a large body of fresh water, and environmentally sensitive. Connecting Lake Nicaragua to two different oceans will not only introduce salt water to the lake; it will introduce exotic species. The canal would also introduce large container ships, which will inevitably spill oil, sewage, and other chemicals.

Lake Nicaragua includes the island of Ometepe, a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve and an area relatively unspoiled by human habitation. So, there's an obvious determination here to spoil it.

One of the proposed routes includes the Rio San Juan, another ecologically sensitive area which also forms part of the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The river would be dredged, and the jungle on either side would be bulldozed. Both Rio San Juan and Lake Nicaragua are sources of fresh water for Costa Rica, and the Costa Rican government has already filed complaints. (See Interoceanic channel in Nicaragua and possible effects on San Juan Basin and Costa Rica by Nicolas Boeglin.)

There's a much less damaging and much less costly alternative. It's called the “dry canal”, and there have been three different proposals for it. One of them, the Canal Interoceánico de Nicaragua, was given a concession by the Nicaraguan government in 2000. The idea is to run a railroad across Nicaragua that would carry containers unloaded at one end, and loaded at the other. It would take only four of five years to complete this project, and it would still create a significant number of jobs.

But even if you're convinced that a $40 billion investment outweighs the damage that this project would cost, consider this: Nicaragua's National Assembly recently passed a piece of legislation giving the HKND Group a concession for the project, and they spent only three hours deliberating over it. This concession gives the HKND Group the right to build, operate, and own the canal for the next 50 to 100 years. This means that the Nicaraguan government has handed over sovereignty for a significant chunk of its territory.

It took Nicaraguans 90 years and a significant amount of blood to end U.S. control of their country, and they have now voluntarily handed part of this control to a foreign corporate entity. Augusto César Sandino must be doing back flips in his grave.

Nicaragua Canal: bonanza or boondoggle? by Tim Rogers
Sandinistas approve Nicaragua canal concession by Tim Rogers
This article also published here


Originally posted to roberb7 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very important issue! (21+ / 0-)

    I was wondering why no one had posted here about it yet.

    More reading on the subject:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/...

    Critics say it’s a monumental surrender of Nicaragua’s sovereignty and that Wang will pretty much own the country.

    “This is the biggest scandal in recent memory,” says Carlos Fernando Chamorro, publisher of Nicaragua’s Confidencial magazine. “While Panama held a public bidding for the expansion of the Panama Canal, and submitted it to a national referendum, here they hand-picked the winner and passed the law in one and a half days.”

    I just returned from the region a few weeks ago and consider the announcement tragic news. It is a jewel from an ecological perspective and would be a shame to have ruined in the name of global trade of cheap Chinese goods.

    Lake Nicaragua:

    DSCF1146

    Rio San Juan:

    DSCF2049

    I was actually working on a diary on the subject, but you have done a better job than I would have.

    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:07:35 AM PDT

  •  How? (4+ / 0-)
    Lake Nicaragua, which is a large body of fresh water, and environmentally sensitive. Connecting Lake Nicaragua to two different oceans will not only introduce salt water to the lake

    Lake Nicaragua is a hundred feet above sea level.

  •  Here Ortega thinks (10+ / 0-)

    that going all neoliberal all the time and shitcanning the socialism will cut him a minute of slack with his US enemies.  Might as well be mining Managua harbor, the all-American thing to do.  Because we Americans care  so much about Nicaragua, Nicaraguans, and the corpse of Sandino.  In fact, we've been caring since 1854, the first time Americans planned to put through a canal in Nicaragua and invaded them, for their own good, of course.

    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" ~Dr. Samuel Johnson

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:14:33 AM PDT

    •  Viva Walker! // (0+ / 0-)

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:49:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What does US have to do with this? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net, Zornorph, Rich in PA
      •  Not a thing (1+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA
        Hidden by:
        BobTheHappyDinosaur

        But the US is always the villain for some people, anyway.

        Language professors HATE me!

        by Zornorph on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:16:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually quite a bit (7+ / 0-)

          because the original plan for the canal dates back to the days of Cornelius Vanderbilt during the California gold rush, and Nicaragua was considered an ideal site for a canal throughout the 19th century. In fact there's an anecdote that Congress was on the point of approving financing for one but got scared off when the Nicaraguan government issued a postage stamp of a smoking Momotombo Volcano (visible from Managua across Lake Managua). Upon realizing the amount of seismic and volcanic activity in the country, Congress backed off.

          I'm not inside his head, but I wouldn't be surprised if Ortega wants to build this canal at least in part to stick it to the US, the country that launched a war against his government and forced his removal from office.

          When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

          by litho on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:10:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  OMG, are you serious? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lost and Found, corvo, BYw

          do you not know the history of our country and its relationship with Nicaragua?

          Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:20:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What does US have to do with it? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        The US influences the Panama Canal. If US gets PO'd at China, we could bar their easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and cripple their economy. They want an alternative that is somewhat under their control.

        A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

        by edg on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:49:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not thinking this is being done to be on the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      litho, Dianna, patbahn, corvo

      good side of the USA or care about the USA at all other than tweeking our nose.

      By inviting substantial Chinese investment and commerce (even if nearly all is only passing through), he's balancing out the overwhelming US influence in the region with an up-and-coming major global power (at least economically so far).

      With a big Chinese investment and influence, Washington might (we can always hope) hesitate a bit more before screwing up the countries of Central America at will (again).

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:07:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I get this, but he is trading it for dominance fro (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        another superpower; also, and worse, it is very dangerous in this time to compromise your fresh water supply.

        Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:21:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, trading one superpower for another is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn, corvo

          what Nicaragua did in the 80's too.

          •  Please. You're buying U.S. propaganda/nt (0+ / 0-)

            In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act--Orwell

            by jhannon on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 01:17:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  no, I was there. (0+ / 0-)

              Nicaragua simply did not have the economic ability to go it alone.  When the US cut them off, they had no choice but to depend economically on the Soviet bloc.

              That was the curse of ANY small country during the Cold War--they ALL had to choose one bloc or the other--and leaving one meant de facto trading for the other.

              •  Economic partners not hegemonic bullies (0+ / 0-)

                Of course Nicaragua benefited from Soviet assistance, but to compare the two is to ignore, or not understand, the history of U.S. intervention and imperialism in Nicaragua and throughout the hemisphere--as in the development of the Contras--"the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers."

                In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act--Orwell

                by jhannon on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 07:32:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  economic dependence always breeds political (0+ / 0-)

                  dependence. It's how empires operate.  The Soviets were no different---there's a reason why their client states were called "satellites".

                  •  No, not always, and not in the same way (0+ / 0-)

                    The Sandinista government was not forced into political positions not of their choosing--this wasn't Stalin's USSR.  And Russian support for Nicaragua was counter-hegemonic, allowing Nicaragua to operate outside the heavy hand of the hemisphere's hegemon.  

                    The Monroe Doctrine, a practical constitution of imperialism, suggests that political control in the hemisphere is appropriate policy even without economic dependence, as in the case of Chile under Allende.  Nicaragua defied the U.S. and operated far more freely with some economic support from the USSR than any Nicaraguan government did before them.  

                    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act--Orwell

                    by jhannon on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 08:29:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                      •  but for the record (0+ / 0-)

                        member of CISPES, organized progressive travel exchange program to Nicaragua, hosted members of Sandinista youth outreach program for a tour of Wisconsin, worked in the sanctuary movement in the Rio Grande Valley and Matamoros, Mexico.  But I also have opinions about the Middle East and I've never been there.

                        In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act--Orwell

                        by jhannon on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 08:08:36 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  for the record (0+ / 0-)

                          I was in Nicaragua in 1988 with Witness for Peace, was also a CISPES member, organized for the Central America Peace Campaign, was also a part of the sanctuary movement. Among other things.

                          •  You seem to be missing the point (0+ / 0-)

                            Were you there?  is a snarky riposte that misses a larger point.

                            One does not have to be on the ground--for a month or however long you were there--to have an opinion.  To think there was no difference between the historical relationship of the U.S. and Nicaragua and the post-revolutionary relationship with the Soviet Union is one opinion.  There are many people who were there a lot longer, including the Sandinistas, who would disagree.

                            We are entitled to opinions about world events without having put feet on the ground.

                            In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act--Orwell

                            by jhannon on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:27:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you put words in my mouth that are not mine (0+ / 0-)
                            To think there was no difference between the historical relationship of the U.S. and Nicaragua and the post-revolutionary relationship with the Soviet Union is one opinion.
                            I said no such thing.

                            The economic dependence of Nicaragua on the Soviet Union was crushingly obvious to anyone who was there. Anyone with eyes could see all the Ladas driving around Managua. And anyone who could not see that Nicaragua was politically dependent upon the Soviet Union, was willfully blind.

                            But of course, as I noted, the Sandinistas simply had no choice.  Nicaragua is too small to be economically independent, and if one camp won't deal with them, they simply have no alternative but to go to the other camp.  That was the problem faced by EVERY small nation in the Cold War. They all had to choose sides.

    •  Managua harbor? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo

      Man, I didn't realize there was commercial shipping on Lake Managua -- and I lived right on the waterfront for two months back in 1984!

      When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

      by litho on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:02:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  more reading (16+ / 0-)

    on the env'al risks involved:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    Although hydro-engineering techniques have advanced considerably since the 48-mile (77 km) Panama canal was completed in 1914, the logistical challenge will be enormous.
    ...

    Jaime Incer, a renowned environmentalist and presidential adviser, urged caution. "There are alternatives for linking one ocean to the other, but there are no alternatives for cleaning a lake after a disaster has happened. We don't have another Lake Nicaragua," he told the Confidencial newspaper.

    Indigenous groups also say they have not been adequately consulted.

    Great Egret, Ometepe

    egret-ometepe

    The island is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It would be a shame to see it, and the Lake overrun by invasive species, and destroyed by oil leaks, spills.

    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:17:54 AM PDT

  •  No one will use it (20+ / 0-)

    in a few years when they can ship goods over the Arctic Circle year round.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:19:02 AM PDT

    •  it's still the short cut to the GOM. (0+ / 0-)

      oil from venezuela,

      goods to brazil.

      Shipping to west africa.

      and even if the arctic route is open,
      it's going to be a ba%^&rd of a run.

      open water in the arctic?  lots of storms,
      lots of rough water, lots of freezing days.

      the Crossings at the straits of magellan or
      tierra del fuego are still considered tests of seamanship

  •  I've been to the lake (6+ / 0-)

    many times. It is indeed a beautiful and pristine place, and both Ometeppe and Zapatera are beautiful islands. This whole thing has been talked about since the 19th century - for some time it looked like Nicaragua, not Panama, was going to be the site of the canal. There is already significant Chinese investment in Nic., and if they actually built this canal it would probably be the largest foreign investment in the Western hemisphere, possibly even challenging the Monroe Doctrine. But, like most things political in Nicaragua, it is almost certainly bullshit. To say you are going to build it is one thing, to actually do so another. There is no infrastructure there, for one thing, to do a public works project like this. It would be a major threat to Panama and other countries in Central America, and terrible for the environment. OTOH, only a handful of the 5 million people in live in Nicaragua are wealthy, and the rest are dirt poor (Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the hemisphere after Haiti). So it is possible that the people there will insist this gets done out of economic necessity.

    •  Nicaragua has every right . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn

      to "challenge" the Monroe Doctrine. For such is not a mutually agreed-upon treaty, just a self-proclaimed dominion over the Americas as an exclusive U.S. "sphere of influence". If this is the intent of the Nicaraguan government, more power to them. Really it's the same reason why Poland is such an eager-to-please member of NATO & why Vietnam is willing to let bygones be bygones & seek a tacit alliance with the U.S.: it's better to have a distant protector than be under the thumb of the regional hegemon.

      I'm not necessarily sold that this canal is a good idea, or even convinced that it will ever come to pass. But it's easy to see what Daniel Ortega is thinking. The project would take his country a long way toward two of his most cherished goals: to end Nicaragua's chronic economic underdevelopment & to seek a counterweight to U.S. regional domination.

      •  i'm convinced the chinese want this for (0+ / 0-)

        strategic reasons.

        being able to port a few warships, and
        transit to the GOM or western atlantic
        lets them begin to be a blue water military.

        with a decent air base, some troops and harbors
        on either side,  chinese submarines can play
        hide and seek with american boomers coming out
        of kings bay and jacksonville,  can play tag
        with carriers out of norfolk  and
        can begin to make air space runs on galveston.

        they can't win a military fight here,  but,
        could they sneak a couple of subs
        from there and screw up a task force departing san diego?

        The chinese are prepping for a slug fest with us over taiwan
        and the spratleys.  

        they may well see it as worthwhile to get themselves in a position in 5 years interdict the taiwan straits, and if
        they see it, sink the japan carrier, the pearl carrier and tag one out of san diego.

        if they launch a sudden amphibious invasion of taiwan, using container ships, commandeered passenger jets and a massive amphibian assault.  

        the US will want to respond, but, if we get the initial strike package of carriers mauled as they come out, the chinese could present us with a fait accompli.  

        china views themselves as an emerging power, they want to be able to transit the 7 oceans, checkmate russia and america, and resume their place in the world.

  •  Is Costa Rica going to Int'l Court of Justice? (6+ / 0-)

    Any ideas on efforts to pressure Nicaragua to choose the rail alternative?

    I'd also be interested in the carbon comparison. Both in construction and operation. There may be mechanisms to make it economically worthwhile for Nicaragua, including perhaps the enviro-tourism that Costa Rica has so successfully promoted.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:25:23 AM PDT

    •  enviro-tourism is, alas, a faraway option (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, corvo

      Nicaragua has gorgeous natural scenery and wildlife. When I was in Paiwas during the Contra War, there were pre-Columbian rock art sites nearby, but sadly it was too dangerous to go see them.

      But Nicaragua lacks the basic infrastructure for a tourist economy--most rural areas lack electricity, running water, and paved roads.  It would take a massive investment to bring those things up to a level that could support tourism--and Nicaragua simply doesn't have the money to do it.

      •  even if they did (0+ / 0-)

        the massive spending to dig the canals, the infrastructure investment into cement plants, roads, power lines.
        the purchase of heavy equipment, the training of workforce.

        this would provide nicaragua with a workforce that can do projects all across central america, leave behind facilities to do rail projects, an upgraded national highway system,
        provide cargo tariffs to support modernizing education and social systems,

  •  So we should be hoping that the Arctic (0+ / 0-)

    melts faster, so that Lake Nicaragua canal won't pencil out as economically feasable, compared to Arctic shipping?.  

    Time is a long river.

    by phonegery on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:27:44 AM PDT

  •  Wang Jing has not yet agreed to fund the project (4+ / 0-)

    only the phase I feasibility study. That will run many millions of dollars, but it is not at all clear who will fund the $40B to actually build the canal. Wang Jing obviously thinks he can find investors, but he is not rich enough by himself to make it happen.

    "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

    by Drobin on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:30:44 AM PDT

    •  It is the Chinese government. (6+ / 0-)

      A state-owned subsidiary is already involved in the funding of the feasibility study. Of course the government in China is involved. Every other country in the Western Hemisphere is likely to be against this, so from a geopolitical standpoint it is highly unlikely to be built. In the end, Ortega may be doing this in order to gain some power that will possibly result in a significant cash contribution to his country (and his personal bank account) in exchange for not building it.

  •  interesting topic (5+ / 0-)

    I haven't seen much about it. I went to Ometepe Island almost 20 years ago and walked up on the volcano. Didn't see a soul after I left the coast, although there were crops part way up.

    My son, who lives in Costa Rica, told me that the Nicaraguans have started work along the San Juan River, which of course has the Costaricans majorly pissed off, as they own half the river and weren't consulted.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:31:55 AM PDT

  •  When I first heard of this plan, I thought, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, YucatanMan, patbahn, corvo

    Jeez, the IMF has got to Ortega. This is exactly the way they operated in their heyday. They'd offer huge loans, which they knew would be paid to US firms, for big infrastructure. The local despot could take a big cut for himself and his crew and the people of the country would be indebted forever. After the inevitable default, they would be offered a way out by trading away control of their natural resources. I suppose China's new status as an economic powerhouse means that they'll be playing the same game. Sad.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:37:20 AM PDT

  •  Am I the only one who thinks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, LaughingPlanet, KJG52

    there's not a shot in hell at constructing a project of that magnitude for just $40 billion in today's market? With the Costa Rican border rights south likely to prevent any construction along the San Juan, the other routes require far more overland construction.

    And where does this actually stand now? Has HKND basically gotten it's hands on an option to build, or is the project more likely than that to proceed?

    It looks like the railroad has a 12 year old concession and still no development, so it begs the question as to where this will actually go. It's a very scary proposition either way.

    "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel." -Sepp Herberger

    by surfbird007 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:41:58 AM PDT

    •  I guess it only depends on which is cheaper: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milkbone, patbahn

      Nicaraguan labor, or Chinese labor.  Real contest, there.

      I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:54:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Looks like opposition is coming from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    the Liberals (the right).

    Like this comment from an FSLN lawmaker:

    “Did they ask the country when they privatized energy, or health or education?”- FSLN Congresswoman Josefina Roa.

    http://www.buonoforgovernor.com/

    by Paleo on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:45:31 AM PDT

  •  I wouldn't build a $40b canal next to a volcano... (5+ / 0-)

    ...much less an active volcano like Concepción.

    It sits right in the middle of the lake and
    has erupted 25 times in the last 120 years.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 10:49:57 AM PDT

  •  Congrats (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, SixSixSix, Knucklehead

    (in advance) on the rescue!

    I suggested this to the rescue rangers and they agreed.

    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:00:30 PM PDT

  •  It won't introduce exotic species. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, corvo

    Lake Nicaragua is fresh water.  Salt water species generally don't thrive in fresh water, although there are a few exceptions.

    The more likely bad scenario is that it just destroys Lake Titicaca's ecology for native species.  Invasive salt water species are not the major threat.

    I also wonder about how it would affect lake salinity.  I don't know enough about how dam lock systems work to know if that's a significant chance.  Changes in salinity would be a huge disruption and could wipe out the lake's freshwater life.

    •  The USA is full of invasive species, both (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, roberb7, Egalitare, corvo, BYw

      salt water and fresh water that arrived via shipping from other lands. Ships carry all sorts of crap in all sorts of places on board. It doesn't take long to cross-contaminate many places with just a few ships.

      Fresh water bacteria or eggs or whatever can be introduced via bilge water or sewage. Containers themselves may become contaminated long before they reach seaside loading docks in China, containing mice, rats, ants or other nasty stuff from inland or up-river. It's not only the water you have to worry about but the land-based wildlife as well.

      With a canal, you'd need extensive hydraulic work to isolate sea water from the lake water and then you'd never be able to keep every drop separate. The lake would become contaminated with sea water, over time, and the fresh water could likely be lowered by leaks and poor management or inadequate control of the locks and pumping.

      In other words, it is almost guaranteed that the lake's current state would be destroyed if an ocean-to-ocean canal is built through it, particularly due to the altitude changes. Keeping fresh lake water at a high altitude when connected to sea level on both sides would be a challenge.

      Even small leaks would be a problem. Notice how much the water bill can go up from only a dripping faucet?   ;-)

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:25:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As Chomsky said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    What Vietnam fought against for hundreds of years, they conceded to the WTO.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:57:54 PM PDT

    •  WTO (0+ / 0-)

      If the Vietnamese don't want to be in the WTO, they don't have to be.  It's voluntary to be a member.

      Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

      by Sky Net on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:16:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the Vietnamese don't want to be in the WTO (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, BYw

        it doesn't matter a flying fck. If the Vietnamese oligarchy want to be in the WTO, then they'll be in the bloody WTO.

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:38:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yup (0+ / 0-)

          That's how things work in a communist dictatorship.  But nobody in Vietnam seems all that unhappy with the WTO so far, oligarchy or otherwise.

          Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

          by Sky Net on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 06:44:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So, since western democracies are involved with (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catfishbob, milkbone, slatsg, corvo, BYw, marina

            the WTO as well, what does that make them?  In other words, did we get a vote on having involvement?

            Rotten leadership is rotten leadership.  Elites take care of elites.  What do we call the TPP treaty under negotiation in secret?  Is that going to be imposed upon us by our communist dictatorship?  We don't get any say.... so...

            What does that mean...?

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:27:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting diary and perspective from commenters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan

    I hadn't heard of this. How much time is it supposed to save vs the Panama Canal?

    •  Several hundred miles both ways (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SixSixSix, Knucklehead, Egalitare, corvo, BYw

      down to Panama and back up again.  So, call it 1200 miles, roughly.  A ship traveling roughly 20 mph (yes, I know they're usually measured in knots) would take 60 hours or 2.5 days.

      So, saving 2.5 days plus the fuel necessary for 1200 miles.  Some of that 2.5 days would be lost by the longer transit time in a much longer canal in Nicaragua than in Panama.  I don't know how much extra time it would take.

      This is all paper-napkin of course, so exact numbers might vary, but that's a general idea.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:35:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it will allow larger boats to transit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        the Panama Canal just got upgraded,  

        but  

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        the ULCCs and Chinamax boats are real big,  having a
        canal large enough to let those transit as well as
        letting warships transit will be a big deal.

        On the plus side, it lets the US send carriers cross ocean
        but if it's under the guns of the chinese, they just began checkmating US power.

  •  color me skeptical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    I see no advantage to a Nicaraguan Canal over the Panama Canal. I also see no infrastructure in the country to support any project anywhere near this size.  Most of Nicaragua doesn't even have running water or paved roads.

    It ain't gonna happen.

  •  It is their country and democratic enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, Al Fondy

    Maybe we should keep our views to ourselves.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 07:15:33 PM PDT

    •  Nicaragua is nowhere near "Democratic enough" (0+ / 0-)

      The 2008 municipal elections were blatantly stolen, and Ortega refused to allow outside observers. Ortega was prohibited from running for President in 2011, but he got the Supreme Court to rule that the constitutional provision was "inapplicable".

      Getting an abortion in Nicaragua can get you a six-year prison sentence, even if the mother's life is endangered. Ortega supports this.

      No, I am not keeping these views to myself.

  •  For oil, wouldn't a pipeline to the Pacific (0+ / 0-)

    make more sense?  Venezuela would have to get Colombia to agree to its being built, but Colombia might get a kick out of siphoning off some traffic from the Panama canal, since Panama was part of Colombia before Teddy Roosevelt "stole it fair and square."

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:25:26 PM PDT

  •  Crap. (0+ / 0-)

    I guess old-school socialists like Ortega still don't get this whole environmental thing and still are enamored with megalomaniac projects of bending nature to their wills. This is quite sad, especially for an old romantic leftie with lifelong Sandinista sympathies like myself. Sigh.

  •  This makes me very sad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    Very foolish, in this age, to do anything to compromise your water supply.

    But we can hardly expect Nicaragua to listen to us.

    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:19:16 AM PDT

  •  no not really (0+ / 0-)

    A 'bad idea' no not really, more bad timing. If this were 1973 instead of 2013. It would be a much better idea.

  •  Possible positive aspect of proposed... (0+ / 0-)

    ...canal project is could dramatically impact U.S. crude oil demand as result of draw-down of demand of diesel fuel from U.S. truckers hauling cheap made-in-China goods from U.S. west coast to all points east. Just saying. As well could adversely impact the U.S. jobs situation. That could escalate into an international issue between U.S. and China...as China is "invading" U.S. [territory].

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:07:51 AM PDT

  •  Actually the second time the US was thinking . . . (0+ / 0-)

    about building the canal during the 1950s, plans were floating around to use "atomic excavation" to complete the project.

    That's right. Operation Plowshare was a program to find peaceful uses for nuclear detonations.

    Plans including creating a harbour in Alaska using 5 nuclear bombs. One test Sedan was carried for this purpose.

    Also a few nuclear fracking tests were conducted as well.

    Back to the original idea. Called the "Pan-Atomic Canal" it was planned to use a series of nuclear detonations move the earth to create the canal.  One of the potential routes was across Nicaragua, closely aligned with the present canal route.

     Fortunately they discovered the high radiation in the spoils and other technical limitations prevented this mad idea of being built.

  •  some progress, anyway... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    A proposal from the 1960s advocated the excavation of a Nicaragua canal using atomic weapons. "Atoms for Peace," you know. The new proposal avoids that, so I guess there is some progress in the world....

     

  •  Chinese businessmen nowadays (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, LaughingPlanet

    rival American businessmen for greed, it seems.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 12:58:05 PM PDT

  •  Economic sense, ecologic insanity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaughingPlanet

    I think we've danced this dance before.

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