Thousands Take To Street In Nicaragua To Protest China Canal Deal

Thousands Take To Street In Nicaragua To Protest China Canal Deal

Staff Reporter

Over a thousand people protested against the project in Managua. (Internet photo)
Over a thousand people protested against the project in Managua. (Internet photo)

A massive demonstration rocked Nicaragua’s capital of Managua as protestors opposed to the construction of a US$50 billion Nicaragua Canal took to the streets on Wednesday. Protesters said the construction will damage local freshwater sources and the environment, reports Shanghai-based newspaper the Paper.

Some protesters held banners reading “Chinese gets out!” and “No canal.” The project, which is to begin construction on Dec. 22 and scheduled to be completed in 2019, will dwarf the neighboring Panama Canal. It will be 278 kilometers in length and pass through Central America’s largest lake.

Chinese-funded Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment won the bid for the project and the right to operate the canal and its facilities for 100 years. One protester said he does not want to see the lake being cut in half and the fact that a foreign company will operate the canal for a century means that not even his children will see benefits from the project.

Paul Oquist, an advisor to Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, told the Guardian that the project is the best Christmas gift for the country since it will create 50,000 direct jobs and 200,000 to 250,000 indirectly. It will also help government reach its goal of reducing poverty. Over half the population currently lives below the poverty level and is currently the second poorest country in Latin America.

As the project’s executive secretary, Oquist said the company will do its best to limit environmental impacts as much as possible, dredging the lake to make it deeper as opposed to using underwater explosives. He also claimed that the construction team will not choose the cheapest route but the one that has minimum impacts on local communities and the environment.

The Hong Kong company’s ability to carry out the project was questioned since its founder, Chinese businessman Wang Jing, has no experience in developing or financing infrastructure projects. The company was only established in August of 2012.

The Paper said such protests against Chinese companies’ projects in Africa and Latin America have increased significantly in recent years. The countries involved are paying increasingly more attention to foreign groups developing their resources. The Paper said these protests appear to be caused by land or labor disputes but are in fact, driven by “resource nationalism.”

Two workers died after a violent protest erupted in a Chinese-funded sugar plant in Madagascar on Dec. 11. Agence France-Presses said it was caused by disputes over contracts and salaries between local seasonal workers and Chinese managers. The local Chinese consulate has pulled out all Chinese nationals from the plant and none of them were killed during the incident, according to Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times.


Wang Jing  王靖

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