Today, the Nicaraguan National Assembly is expected to rubber-stamp a $40 billion proposal by a Chinese consortium to build a canal across the country. The new canal will be over 150 miles long, dwarfing the famous Panama Canal.
The idea of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Nicaragua has been around since colonial times, and up until 1970, the United States held rights to build it. However, the current proposal will see a newly formed Hong Kong-registered company, HKDN, build the waterway.
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. The construction of the new canal will see the country’s GDP double and employment triple in only five years, according to The Guardian.
Of the more than half-dozen proposed routes for the canal, at least five will run through the freshwater Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. Any land-only route would have to make a considerable detour to get around the lake.
Though the proposal has met with little resistance in parliament because of the large ruling party majority, no studies on the environmental or social impact of the project have been completed as yet.