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China to Join the Nicaragua Canal Project

Anti-Imperial Canal Planned to be Inaugurated in 2019



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On July 10, 2012, Nicaragua announced a bid for investors on the Nicaragua Canal; the government will keep 51% of the shares in the newly established Grand Canal Authority. This followed the approval on July 2, of new laws regulating the proposed 200-kilometer (125-mile) canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. China and India are interested in the project; Venezuela and Brazil also expressed interest. Yet, this is not a new idea. The colonial administration of New Spain conducted preliminary surveys, as did the French, the Americans and even the defunct Federal Republic of Central America. The Panama Canal project was dug only after several failures to dig the Nicaragua Canal, which is further north and thus offers a shorter maritime route between the eastern and western coasts of the USA. Yet, now there is a real chance that the canal will be inaugurated in 2019 and then further expanded in the following years so that ships too large for the Panama Canal will be able to use it.

Nicaragua | Deceiving Beauty

Nicaragua | Deceiving Beauty


Anti-Imperial Canal


Nicaragua Canal Possible Routes

Nicaragua Canal Possible Routes

After the Panama Canal was inaugurated in 1914; Nicaragua wanted Germany or Japan to finance its canal, but the USA—the Panama Canal operator—opposed. Maybe this was one of the reasons why Nicaragua was under direct and indirect American occupation for most of the 20th century. The US Army occupied the country between 1909 and 1933. Afterwards, between 1936 and 1979, the country was under the hereditary dictatorship of the Somoza family, which was militarily backed by the USA. In 1979, the Sandinistas (a party named after a general that opposed the American occupation and was assassinated by the Somoza family in 1934) took power. The Reagan administration begun a guerrilla war against them, through forces loyal to the Somoza family; these were “contrarrevolucionarios” (counter-revolutionaries), usually known as “Contras.” One of the peaks of American self-righteousness was related to this illegitimate activity; the Iran-Contra Affair of 1986–1987 facilitated Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to Iran.

On October 15, 1984, Associated Press reported that CIA had written a manual for the Nicaraguan Contras entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare. It focused mainly on how “Armed Propaganda Teams” could build political support in Nicaragua for the Contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence. In its chapter “Implicit and Explicit Terror” the booklet instructed the Contras “If the government police cannot put an end to the guerrilla activities, the population will lose confidence in the government, which has the inherent mission of guaranteeing the safety of citizens.” This was exactly what happened.

The manual was one of the issues the International Court of Justice (IJC) analyzed in the Nicaragua v. US 1986 I.C.J. 14 case. The ICJ claimed “Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled “Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas” [the abovementioned “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare”], and disseminating it to Contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America.”

Eventually, the CIA failed in its military attempts to bring down the Sandinistas, but succeeded in its Psychological Warfare attempts. The Sandinistas were defeated in the 1990 elections after public threats that the U.S./Contra would continue their war if the Sandinistas retained power. Later, in 2001, the Bush administration attempted to link the Sandinistas with the “War on Terror" as a means of intimidating the population into voting for the U.S. backed candidate. Things improved only in 2007, when Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega became president. Since then, he signed with Venezuela the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. This may seem like a very brittle position, but in the actual geopolitical reality it may be enough to keep the CIA-terror under control.


Unstoppable Project?


Nicaragua Canal | 19th Century Plan

Nicaragua Canal | 19th Century Plan

Overall, the anti-American sentiment of the Nicaraguan population can be understood; the empire’s meddling has kept Nicaragua one of the poorest countries in the Americas. In 2012, America’s power is in clear decline, while Nicaragua managed to sign an alliance with Venezuela, a close ally of China. Venezuela is an emerging force, having entered Mercosur, and maintaining close relations with Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia (the latter has also a complex unofficial alliance with the USA, its main “special sugar” client). These delicate alliances revived the Nicaragua Canal project since China is a major transporter of goods to the Western hemisphere and Brazil—the largest Mercosur member—is desperate to find an efficient exit to the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, the Panama Canal suffers from limitations in the size of ships it can serve—even after its ongoing expansion— and it favors Western boats. Everything is ready for an alternative path.

The project proposed by Nicaragua includes a feasibility study that must choose one of six feasible trajectories for the canal. This stage is expected to cost $350 million, while the subsequent construction could reach $30 billion. Nicaragua is too poor to conduct such a project; hence it is seeking international partnership. The canal will have a length of 200km compared to the approximate 80km of the Panama Canal. However, it will allow easier movement of larger ships, up to 250,000 tons, compared to the slightly over 50,000 tons of the Panama Canal. This means oil supertankers would be able to significantly shorten their routes; this market segment alone is enough to justify the project. Nicaragua claims that this canal could match the volume moved through its southern neighbor within a few years. If China is to invest in the project, its ships could assure such a volume.


Empire Hits Back


One of the most feasible trajectories of the proposed canal passes through the San Juan River, on the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. Unluckily, there is a border dispute near the Caribbean Sea end of the river. Costa Rica is a close ally of the USA; thus, the latter is likely to use the dispute for causing delays in the digging of the new canal. Serious disputes took place in 2009 and 2010; the first one was settled by the International Court of Justice. On November 18, 2010, Costa Rica filed proceedings against Nicaragua in the International Court of Justice. The complaint alleges an incursion into, occupation of and use by Nicaragua's Army of Costa Rican territory, breaches of Nicaragua's treaty obligations toward Costa Rica, and “ongoing and planned dredging and the construction of the canal (that) will seriously affect the flow of water to the Colorado River of Costa Rica, and will cause further damage to Costa Rican territory, including the wetlands and national wildlife protected areas located in the region.” In March 2011, The International Court of Justice provisionally ruled that Costa Rica and Nicaragua both must refrain from sending or maintaining civilians, security forces or police into this disputed border area, but that Costa Rica was allowed to send civilian teams concerned with environmental matters. Dredging by Nicaragua within the San Juan River itself was allowed to continue since Nicaragua has sovereignty over the entire river.

Nicaragua CostaRica | Disputed Border

Nicaragua-CostaRica Disputed Border

Costa Rica has the power to delay and cause troubles to the potential southern path of the new canal; thus, the latter would probably be avoided. That’s one small victory for the USA, one giant drawback for mankind. Except for this small issue, it seems there is no legal way the USA can further block the anti-Imperial Canal. This is a guarantee that we will see in the next future the latest CIA developments in PSYWAR applied again against some of the poorest people on Earth in the name of democracy.

The Southern Seas

Those acquainted with travel literature from the 19th century are aware the Pacific Ocean appears there as the “Southern Seas.” This is strange; after all, this ocean runs along Earth from north to south, as its Atlantic neighbor does. The answer to this riddle is related to the topic of this article. Before the Panama Canal was dug, goods were transferred overland in the same general area the canal occupies nowadays. Yet, Panama sits askew on the map. The loaded mules advanced from ports on the northern coast—along the Caribbean Sea—towards the ports in the south, along what they rightfully called the “Southern Seas.”

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