The Nicaraguan canal project was always a controversial topic. The involved parties could never agree upon a settlement and because of that, a lot of national debates and protest appeared. All the sides came with different arguments to sustain their cause. However, in the end, after long deliberations, the supreme court decided to reject the farmers latest appeal, regarding the blocking of the Canal Project.
Where it started
The construction of this canal was an older plan of President Daniel Ortega, who, in mid-2013 gave a concession to the Chinese billionaire Wang Jing. The concession was made for 50 years and it was extendable for up to 100 years, from the beginning date of the project. The canal was about to be a mega project and its value was estimated at around $50 Billion. It was supposed to be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Nicaraguan history. This project involved the opening of a massive trench, 278 km long. The canal was about to cross 105 km in Lake Nicaragua, one of the biggest lakes in Latin America and an important point of interest. The official start of the project was made widely known in 2014, but the authorities didn’t start any bids for construction projects nor opened any access roads.
After the Government announced the canal project, a lot of environment representatives, farmers and peasants opposed it. According to them, this canal would be seriously affecting the fauna and flora in the construction area and it may generate some natural imbalances. More than that, they stated that the Nicaragua Lake, a national heritage asset, will be affected as well.
In this context, the National Council of Defense of the Land coordinated a series of marches, in which they were condemning the construction of the canal. They were accusing the Government of negligence and indifference when it comes to protecting the Nicaragua’s natural treasures.
In April last year, the anti-canal movement, submitted a proposal to the Congress, for the repeal of this project. The Congress declined this proposal, without even considering it. Because of that, the anti-canal movement made an appeal to the supreme court, which was denied as well.
Appeal denying reasons
According to the Supreme Court, the presented arguments were not conclusive enough, to justify the blocking of the project canal. The anti-canal movement did not present enough evidence to sustain their cause and to prove that the canal construction will affect the natural balance in that certain area. After the Supreme Court’s decision, a lot of protests were organized, with people who were still supporting the blocking of the canal project.
Arguments pro-canal construction
This mega project is expected to have a big positive impact on the Nicaraguan economy, improving the waterway transport and the commerce. More than that, the construction of the canal is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in Nicaragua, a country where the unemployment rate is about 7%.
Arguments anti-canal construction
The main concern of the anti-canal representatives is a natural balance, which might be affected by this project. Another problem would be the displacement of the current farmers, who will have to be expropriated because of this project. More than that, the opposition party stated that this canal project will be financially unsustainable and it cannot be accomplished, considering Nicaragua’s volatile economy.