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Nicaragua’s "Great Canal" Project Sparks Campesino Protests

LADB Article ID: 79456
Category/Department: Nicaragua
Date: 2014-10-23
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

In partnership with a mysterious Chinese billionaire, President Daniel Ortega is moving closer to turning Nicaragua’s generations-old dream of a cross-country canal into reality. But just as the gargantuan project is starting to take real shape, opposition is also coalescing, particularly among people living in its projected path. Ortega and his allies believe the ambitious project will boost Nicaragua’s growth numbers, create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce the poverty rate (perhaps by as much as 10%), and ultimately revolutionize the economy. After initial skepticism, public backing of the canal appears to be rising, But the venture’s apparent progress has also provided an impetus for groups opposing it. Centro Humboldt, a leading Nicaraguan environmental group, published a report late last month warning about the potential environmental damage. A more immediate problem for the Ortega administration and its Chinese partners is a continuing wave of protests. Approximately 1,000 people from communities throughout the western department of Rivas gathered Oct. 10 in the town of Tola. The Tola event, the sixth such protest to take place since mid-September, occurred just two days after a far larger demonstration was held on the other side of the country, in the RAAS province of Nueva Guinea.

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