In a largely symbolic act, Nicaragua broke ground on Monday on the Chinese-backed construction of a new canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The project is being pushed by Nicaraguan President (and former Marxist guerrilla leader) Daniel Ortega and financed by Wang Jing, “a little-known Chinese telecom mogul well connected to China’s political elite.” And as much as normally support any ambitious effort to create business opportunities for people in poor countries, this quote from the article raised some red flags about the project I hadn’t thought of previously:
The proposed canal is set to intersect Lake Nicaragua, known locally as Lake Cocibolca, sending cargo ships and tankers straight through the largest source of freshwater in Central America. Further, the canal is expected to displace tens of thousands of mostly rural and indigenous landholders and would likely devastate over 400,000 acres of rainforests and wetlands, which scientists say are critical to local and regional biodiversity conservation efforts.
I am usually very skeptical of environmental protests since their motives are almost always to promote socialism or communism and not to protect the environment. Here however the protests are against a project being promoted by a Marxist ruler and the communist Chinese. Moreover, it does seem a reasonable question to worry about the possible introduction of ocean saltwater into “the largest source of freshwater in Central America.”