China’s Fantasy Canal Doing Real Damage in Nicaragua | The Diplomat

The Nicaraguan canal is a delusion, but human rights abuses and land grabs in the project’s name are all too real.

Image Credit: Flickr/ MRS Movimiento Renovador Sandinista

Image Credit: Flickr/ MRS Movimiento Renovador Sandinista


By Robert Nelson March 17, 2016

The planned Chinese canal through Nicaragua has received little attention in the United States, and when it does, the reaction is usually alarmist. Daniel Runde in his Foreign Policy piece provides a typical example: “The canal’s construction should be seen as a geostrategic probe by China. The depth of the canal, a reported 28 meters, should also raise eyebrows as it would be deep enough for Chinese submarines to quickly and covertly cross between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.”

But the canal almost certainly will not happen. To the extent that the project should worry the United States, the focus should be on human rights abuses and not on any perceived challenge to the outmoded Monroe Doctrine.

The canal will not happen because it does not make sense. The primary reason is that there is no demand for a second Central American canal, making the project financially unfeasible. In an interview with CNBC, Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of the National Industrial Transportation League, a shipping industry advocacy group, speaking for the vast majority of industry experts said, “I sincerely believe we don’t need another canal. I don’t think there’s enough ship traffic to warrant the construction of another canal.” In addition, at a cost of $40 billion, even if the Nicaraguan canal received all of the Panama Canal’s current traffic (an impossible assumption) it would take 40 years for the project to break even. Add on that the Panama Canal offers faster transit times, that no current American ports can handle ships the size that the Nicaraguans are talking about, and that global warming could possibly open a faster and free route north of Canada, and the whole project seems like a fool’s errand.

Read the rest here–>Source: China’s Fantasy Canal Doing Real Damage in Nicaragua | The Diplomat

Is China’s Fantasy Canal Doing Real Damage in Nicaragua?

El Portón Verde has not been reporting very much about the proposed Interoceanic Canal lately, mostly because not much has been happening, and also that most reporting from the US-based media is pure propaganda and I’d rather not assist in that endeavor.

That said, this is a very well-written piece from “The Diplomat”  which “is the premier international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region.” In other words, this site doesn’t appear to be to far in the tank for one particular point of view or another but rather seems to be dedicated to quality analysis and commentary.

Unfortunately, it appears that my worst case scenario is aligning to a point where it is likely to come true. That is, in the game that is being played here, where this Chinese company, HKND is supposed to be able to build an interoceanic canal from the Caribbean coast in the east all the way over to the Pacific coast on the west, but is actually much more interested in a land grab, making resorts and golf courses.

Any actual digging will be short-lived, and the result will be that Nicaragua will unfortunately experience all the negative consequences to the natural environment with none of the economic benefits that a functioning canal is supposed to provide the people of Nicaragua.

Sadly, even my worst case scenario may prove to be wildly optimistic in terms of outcomes for Nicaragua!worstcase



Global Supply Chain News: As Crazy as it Sounds, Nicaragua Grand Canal Might Just Happen

Project Seems Preposterous, but Nicaragua Government, Chinese Company Say Effort will Kick-Off in Early 2016


SCDigest Editorial Staff


While most of the buzz these past few years has been about the logistics impact of an expanded Panama Canal that will be able to handle larger ships when the project is finally finished sometime in 2016, a plan for a competing canal in Nicaragua, which at many levels seems an impossibility, may actually just happen. The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal project would create a waterway some 276 kilometers long, including the use of Lake Nicaragua for a good portion of the passage. It would have even wider lanes than the expanded Panama Canal, allowing even larger megaships to use its service, though whether this makes any sense give US port dynamics is questionable.

Source: Global Supply Chain News: As Crazy as it Sounds, Nicaragua Grand Canal Might Just Happen

Will Brito Beach in Tola, Rivas, change from this:

Playa Brito, where the port on the Pacific Side of Nicaragua's Interoceanic Canal will be built

Playa Brito, where the port on the Pacific Side of Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal will be built

To this?

Panama Canal, Pacific Side Entrance

Panama Canal, Pacific Side Entrance

We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we? In the meantime, I really like this opinion piece from Supply Chain Digest because it speaks to the needs of global commerce and the reality that these super-large ships are in the ocean now, and that even the expanded Panama Canal can’t handle them. The piece details that it will save weeks of time and lots of money for these mega-ships to go through a Nicaraguan Canal.

Here’s the money quote from the piece:

So is this a real project that will come up with the massive funding required to get it off the ground, or some half-baked notion that in the end will fall of it own weight? We should know sometime in early 2016, if the Chinese and the Nicaraguans really start moving dirt or not.

Nicaragua Canal Project Won “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award”

Nicaragua Canal Project Won “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award” 2015-6-13 21:36

Bill Wild, HKND’s Chief Project Advisor (second from right), received the “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award” on behalf of the Nicaragua Canal Project. Photograph: HKND Group

Bill Wild, HKND’s Chief Project Advisor (second from right), received the “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award” on behalf of the Nicaragua Canal Project.
Photograph: HKND Group

Bill Wild, HKND’s Chief Project Advisor (second from right), received the “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award” on behalf of the Nicaragua Canal Project.Photograph: HKND GroupOn June 11, 2015, the three-day 13th Latin American Infrastructure Leadership Forum concluded in Antigua, Guatemala. Among the five categories of the “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Awards”, the Nicaragua Grand Interoceanic Canal is highly recognized by the judging panel and is granted “Strategic Project of the Year Award” and “Job Creation Project of the Year Award”, making it the most noticeable project on the forum.According to the judging panel, the “Strategic Project of the Year Award” is granted to the Nicaragua Canal Project on the ground that it has demonstrated leadership, tenacity and imagination required to develop mega projects. Projects of the Year awards recognize the projects – and the leaders behind the projects – that will serve as models for vastly increased infrastructure investment in the region.

Source: Nicaragua Canal Project Won “2015 Latin American Projects of the Year Award” – Company News – HKND Group Nicaragua Canal Global Trade Project

No comment.

USA ‘Is coming for’ Daniel Ortega for the construction of the Grand Canal of Nicaragua



Latin American leaders who choose to follow an independent US policy must be prepared for any reaction that might come from Washington. Currently, the greatest discontent for the White House is generated by the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, which the US State Department says, is acting in an “extremely hostile” US policy front, some experts believe.

Source (in Spanish): EE.UU. ‘se venga’ de Daniel Ortega por la construcción del Gran Canal de Nicaragua – RT

Short article, but IMO it’s a fairly accurate description of actual US policy towards Nicaragua and specifically the Grand Canal. Seems obvious that China owning a canal that’s actually closer and makes more economic sense to shippers to use than the Panama Canal won’t be welcomed in Washington.

The article makes a good point, that the environmental impact report directly contradicts the Obama administration’s argument. The EIR says that the canal will be viable in terms of nature conservation and water resources whereas the Whitehouse says that it will cause devastating effects of the channel on the ecology of the region.

Since the normal playbook used is to cause instability in countries and regions that don’t play along with the preferred scheme, we can expect more money to be put into the political opposition and there will be more protests.

There’s a journalist and political scientist named Igor Ignatiev who has been writing about this issue on some Russian journals such as and based on Google translations, has some very interesting observations, including the following:

It is common, in general, the US strategy: Write in your region instability, shake the political situation, and thereby block the flow of investments from other countries. No one wants to invest money where it is not clear what will happen tomorrow. This, in my view, a clear signal to China not to rush to the financing and construction of the Nicaragua Canal.

I’ll let you, dear reader, come to your own conclusions. I just present this as an alternative to the mainstream media and think it’s important to get some perspective from other sources.


Nicaragua Canal Environmental Assessment Criticized As Scientifically Weak, Technically Inadequate – Circle of Blue WaterNews

The Nicaraguan government has not made the ERM study public, nor has it indicated when it will do so. Panel members said it is imperative that the 14-volume study be available for public review.

Lake Nicaragua canal Ometepe Island ferry

Photo courtesy Guillermo A. Durán via Flickr Creative Commons
The ferry “El Che Guevara” in Muelle de Moyogalpa, a port town on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. The island receives about 40,000 visitors each year. Click image to enlarge.


“That is the most urgent short-term concern with the process,” said Ryan Stoa, a lawyer and senior scholar at Florida International University who helped to organize the independent review panel. “The government is holding it back. It’s hard for anyone to judge the merits of the study without seeing the research in its entirety. It’s troubling for us that the government has not publicly released the report, or even indicated when they will do so. While the science we reviewed was problematic, I expect the final ESIA will raise serious concerns about the impacts of the canal. It’s imperative that the public have access to that research sooner rather than later.”

Expert panel finds “scientifically indefensible” conclusions in 14-volume study.

Source: Nicaragua Canal Environmental Assessment Criticized As Scientifically Weak, Technically Inadequate – Circle of Blue WaterNews

Well, in case anyone wanted to know if the proposed Interoceanic Canal of Nicaragua was a complete sham or not, this article by “Circle of Blue” (which is an environmental group concerned with all things water-related) appears to seal the deal. If the environmental assessment is criticized on not only the environmental impacts but more broadly, on the overall feasibility (or lack thereof) of the project, then the investors will not put a centavo into this scheme and it will die an ugly death, hopefully with little actual screwing around with the environment.

So back to theory “A” of the canal deal; that it is a huge land grab by Chinese nationals on a wide and long swath of southern Nicaragua. Let’s just hope the powers that be are so ashamed of themselves and face the wrath of every environmentalist in the world so that they stop while they’re behind as far as actually trying to see this through, or even to see the sham through.

In Nicaragua, can Chinese move the canal, avoid Rio San Juan, and still play golf? | Nicaragua Dispatch

“Hey, better make that a Par 3, Wang” #HKND

The Sandinista's canal spokesman says the route is being moved south, but how far south will it go?

via In Nicaragua, can Chinese move the canal, avoid Rio San Juan, and still play golf? | Nicaragua Dispatch.

Nicaragua Insiders say…

Seems to me as an outside observer that it is quite possible that the canal’s planning and project management process is already broken, even at this early stage of the project. A canal cannot successfully be built properly given what appears to be the arbitrary nature of the outcomes of the planning process. Furthermore, an overall lack of transparency occludes any ability to see if this announced change really makes any sense or not.

On the surface (and maybe this is too harsh) this decision tells all the activist groups that they had better escalate and perhaps incite some violence, which cannot end well. They’d better get on the receiving end of some serious beatings delivered by the national police force, put out some publicity, and then watch as HKND makes concession after concession.

In this example, HKND is changing the route, but we don’t know why they chose the original route, and the decision to move the route seems to be based on mostly political and social reasons rather then environmental or feasibility reasons.

If, as Tim Rogers so correctly surmises, this might lead to a possible partial use of the Rio San Juan as the main canal route entering Lake Nicaragua, that is a game changer as far as both the environmental impacts and the political impacts as then Costa Rica would feel the need to get involved. Even though at the western end of the Rio San Juan the river doesn’t touch Costa Rican territory, Nicaragua’s southern neighbor would still raise a huge fuss and have some serious pull in terms of Western media propaganda.

Just imagine the following press release “eco-friendly, military-free Costa Rica fighting its aggressive northern neighbor, socialist President for Life Daniel Ortega from ruining the pristine ecosystem, Chinese Chinese, blah blah blah…”)

At least they could work towards managing their publicity and news releases a bit better to not come off looking so half-cocked! And yes, HKND if you are reading this, I am available for consulting!

Breaking Ground on the Nicaragua Canal – The New Yorker


A few days before Christmas, in Brito, Nicaragua, on the Pacific coast, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the world’s latest megaproject. The Nicaragua Canal is expected to take five years to complete and cost fifty billion dollars; when finished (if it is ever finished), the hundred-and-seventy-two-mile canal will bisect Nicaragua from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

via Breaking Ground on the Nicaragua Canal – The New Yorker.

Now the New Yorker magazine is in on the reporting on the Nicaraguan Interoceanic Canal. Mostly brings up the same points and questions that anyone following this developing story is already familiar with. As usual, it takes the naysayer’s point of view and doesn’t represent too well the positive possibilities of the developed canal and how it can help Nicaragua. I think the New Yorker can do better reporting!

There’s nothing like Nicaragua

That’s for sure! This is a well-done HD video using lots of drone shots from the air and several beautiful people and many divine-looking places. All around great job on this by Surf Ranch Nicaragua.

The video focuses on the area of southwestern Nicaragua, and although I’m sure quite this is an unintended consequence by the people who worked on this film, it feels to be somewhat of a testimony to the way Nicaragua is now, pre-Interoceanic Canal. So enjoy it while it lasts, which really means you had better get down here in 2015!

As they have filmed between Popoyo on the north to San Juan del Sur to the south, the canal will literally splice that into two as it will run right through the middle between those two areas. While I doubt the directors and producers had this in mind as they filmed…it is indeed pretty to look at and no doubt is a great draw for folks visiting.

Nicaragua Insiders say that the canal is a GO but only for land speculation purposes, actually building a canal would be just icing on the cake. The plan is to take advantage of the near-sovereignty the Chinese man who owns HKND and his associates have now by law and to use that to be in control of a large swath of southern Nicaragua.

Lots of European visitors in town now, per my sources in the Popoyo area. We had several here last week who probably are all now down at the beaches in your area! As written about previously, the European visitor numbers are growing and they are staying in my experience, an average of three weeks at a time in Nicaragua.There s nothing like Nicaragua   YouTube

So a couple of minor matters passed along to you about the Interoceanic Canal and European visitors to Nicaragua. Cheers!

The monstrosity of the Canal| La Prensa

The monstrosity of the Canal

By: Ernesto Cardenal

Author and poet Ernesto Cardenal

Author and poet Ernesto Cardenal

We need to expose to the world what is happening in Nicaragua.

President Daniel Ortega, with the all-embracing power that he and his wife have in this country, had the National Congress create and approve (in one day) a law for the construction of the Interoceanic Canal. The people were not consulted at all about this law. The day after the law was passed, a concession was granted  with dizzying speed, although it will affect Nicaragua for over one hundred years. The award was made to a previously unknown Chinese named Wang Jing. The award only grants rights to Wang Jing but does not impose any obligations.

The grant was made without any previous study, as President Ortega himself has said.

The grant requires that all information about the construction of the Canal will remain confidential.

The grant, which was made without any bidding, includes an airport, two ports, a railway and two free trade zones.

National territory has been given so that these works can be carried out where Wang Jing wants and he will have all the permissions to make whatever decisions that may be required. He will have complete license, permit or authorization that he will ever need.

The State of Nicaragua will not receive a single penny in taxes or charges for any of the works.

Under the agreement the Chinese company signed, they are beyond national law, free of responsibility for any administrative, civil or criminal liability or penalty, even if they default on their obligations.

The law is contradictory to many aspects of our Constitution.

It also contradicts other projects that might be more profitable in the long term than cutting apart in two the tourist corridor of the Pacific.

The famed Humboldt Center has stated that the construction of this canal and its Project Partners are the biggest threat to environmental conditions in the country’s history. They also claimed that this concession exempts all Project Partners from compliance with environmental legislation which may be exposing the country to irreversible ecological destruction.

The State of Nicaragua would receive one percent of the shares each year, and in one hundred years would have one hundred percent of the shares.

With every passing ship, a huge amount of fresh water would go to the sea.

The Great Lake of Nicaragua will only have one utility: navigation. We cannot produce food through irrigation, we can only see boats passing by.

Nor can we drink water from the lake. We must also take into account that many people live by fishing in the lake and now they will not have that as an option.

All our water, surface and underground will be given to a Chinese man.

To the owners of the land that will be expropriated by this Chinese man will pay a price for the land at the land registry (i.e. tax declaration) value and not market value.

36 cities would be affected by the loss of the lake, as well as many smaller towns.

The Isletas of Granada will disappear because he locks will raise the lake level by two meters.

This nightmare scenario is what President Daniel Ortega calls the “Promised Land.”

Many experts say that Nicaragua would earn more by selling potable drinking water than from the income of a canal that won’t be ours for a hundred years.

With this Canal, the country will be divided into two, the Nicaragua North and South, as there were two Germanys and as there are two Koreas. There will be two distinct populations of animals (except those that can fly) that will be different over time. which will hurt our biodiversity.

Solentiname has been declared a national monument, but without the lake there will be no more Solentiname. Someone from over there said: “I’ll be eating a lot of fish, afterwards there will be no more because all the fish will be canned by the Chinese.”

With this Canal, Lake Nicaragua, which for us is a great blessing of God, will become a curse.

Doing away with Lake Nicaragua would be the greatest crime in the history of our country, and Ortega would become a more abominable figure than William Walker$.

via The monstrosity Channel | The Press News.

Very clear and direct words from a great Nicaraguan poet and writer, Ernesto Cardenal. I hadn’t thought about the idea that the isletas will basically disappear with a rise in the lake levels of 6 feet, but it makes sense.

Nicaraguan Insiders tell me that this is just a land grab. As I’ve posted elsewhere on this site, lets hope the worst case scenario does not come to pass. Please share far and wide!

New march against construction of interoceanic canal announced

Announce new march against construction of interoceanic canal

By: Jerome Pérez Duarte, correspondent in New Guinea

Landowners who are supposed to be affected by the construction of the mega canal project will protest on Tuesday 21 October in the Colonia La Fonseca, a community that is located about 30 kilometers south of the town of New Guinea.

Julio Garcia, a member of the Commission for the Defense of the Land, said he will meet at least about 40 communities which disagree with the construction of the mega project, because “this canal does not benefit anyone, on the contrary, is stripping us our lands.”

Paula Moran, a resident of the district La Esperanza which belongs to the same region of the Southern Caribbean said “They passed by my farm. I asked if they had already stipulated the price and they did not want to say anything. This indicates that they want to pay whatever they want and how is that going to serve me if I cannot read what I can see that will serve these Chinese.”

In a radio broadcast, organizers said that the marches will not stop and the November 14 march will be in the county seat, “to show the government that we do not want the canal, we do not want to be imposed upon,” the farmers said.

Meanwhile the head of the National Police in New Guinea, Arnulfo Rocha commissioner, said the permits are granted up to 72 hours in advance, but the citizens of Colonia La Fonseca that intend to protest have not sent any request.