This dreamy view was taken from a coffee cooperative located just below the midway point up the Maderas volcano on Ometepe Island on Lake Cocibolca, or Lake Nicaragua, taken in February 1994. My apologies for the lousy scan. But it’s here for a good reason beyond the pleasant memories it helps to recall.
I’m using it to kick-off a new page here entitled Canal Dreams, one I plan to regularly update over the next 4-5 weeks with news on the Nicaragua canal project. As an FYI the page‘s introduction is copied below. Thanks for reading.
In June 2013 the Nicaraguan government granted Hong Kong-based firm HKND a 50 year concession to build and operate a canal that will connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. With a price tag estimated at $40-50 billion, construction of the 278-kilometer (172mi) long corridor will be the largest and most expensive civil engineering project in Central American history, and one of the most ambitious ever attempted on the planet.
Supporters of the project, led by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, argue that realizing this canal dream, one entertained since the Spanish conquistadors arrived 450 years ago, will create tens of thousands of jobs and produce record economic growth – the only real option to finally lift the country, the second poorest in the hemisphere behind Haiti, from poverty.
Those against have voiced serious concerns about the project’s feasibility, the wide-ranging authority the deal has given HKND and its billionaire boss Wang Jing, and the environmental damage the canal will cause to fragile ecosystems and Lake Nicaragua (also known as Lake Cocibolca), Central America’s largest source of fresh water. Many shipping and transit industry observers have question the need for another canal just 500 miles north of Panama’s while other critics wonder if it will ever be built. Most of all, the project, whose groundbreaking is officially set for December 22, has been blasted for its lack of transparency. It’s projected to be completed in 2019, and in operation by 2020.
I’ve recently begun conducting research and collecting information on the canal project; a regularly-updated working intro is here. This timeline is a companion page where I’ll be highlighting relevant news and updates that might also be of interest to others. I’ll try to post updates 4-5 times per week through the end of December 2014, when I’ll have to direct my attention elsewhere. The majority of the links here are to English language sources, but I hope to also present some translated summaries of Spanish language stories when time allows.
I welcome any and all information or links you’d like to share. Feel free to leave them in the comments on the Canal Dreams page or if you’d prefer to remain discreet, get in touch here. I’d especially like to hear from people on the ground in Nicaragua. I will honor all requests for anonymity.
Today’s Pic du Jour, the 316th straight, was taken on 20-Feb-1994.