By Eddy Montilla
The idea of constructing a shipping canal across Nicaragua linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is good because it provides a new alternative and break Panama’s monopoly on global shipping. But, Can you make your living just with “good ideas”? Without a right plan, all ideas are just dreams. And President Daniel Ortega’s plan on the construction of the Nicaraguan canal has tree serious problems.
First: Lack of transparency:
President Ortega and his group granted the concession to build the canal to a Chinese multimillionaire, Wang Jing, a man who has no history of huge infrastructure projects, but the worst thing of all is that he has spattered “the mud of doubt” over his fortune since he can’t explain how he could amass it. Many Chinese business tycoons today became millionaire doing the same as Russian Tycoons did when Russia’s transition from socialism to capitalism: Taking advantage of a place that looks like the Wild West, that is, territories with no sheriff.
Second: Lack of unity:
Despite so many proclamations and slogans about socialism, Latin American countries together, we are one, etc., it seems contradictory to me that a Chinese, very far from the region, got the rights to build the canal. Why did not Nicaragua go into partnership with Venezuela and Brazil to build it?
Third: Lack of practical vision:
The cost of building the canal is an estimated 40 billion dollars. Since this money comes from Mr. Wang Jing and others, he gets 50 years of exclusive rights to build and operate the canal, extendable by another 50 years (almost sure, in my opinion). Since we are talking about 100 years, I wonder how President Ortega and his congressmen could make such business if none of them will be alive at that time to respond in case of something goes wrong. The overall project would cost four times Nicaragua’s 2011 gross domestic product (GDP). I know that 40 billion dollars is too much money for Nicaragua, but it’s not the end of the world. Nicaraguans could also try to build the canal with their own resources. If you are going to wait 100 years, you could also wait more or trying to obtain financial aid from Latin American countries.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti. So, with a successful canal, many people there could escape from the poverty in which they live. In order to achieve that, President Ortega should talk not only about possible benefits, but about the impact of this canal on Lake Nicaragua, the country’s main source of freshwater. He also has to come up with solutions to these three mistakes I mentioned before. Yesterday, Daniel Ortega was a revolutionary, and later, president of his country. Today, he looks like a “caudillo”… And if he does not handle well the building of the canal, history will bestow another tittle on him: A dream seller.
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper WORLD AND OPINION with Eddy Montilla.
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