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Opponents of Nicaraguan Canal Project Demand Greater Transparency

LADB Article ID: 79702
Category/Department: Nicaragua
Date: 2015-07-16
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Two years after giving an untested Chinese firm carte blanche to build and operate a behemoth ocean-to-ocean canal, the Nicaraguan government is finally in possession of what critics say it ought to have had from the outset: an extensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). And yet, so far little is known about the document other than its basic dimensions—it contains 14 volumes, 11,000 pages, and 2.75 million words—and that British firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) spent two years compiling it. Since receiving the long-awaited ESIA on May 31, authorities in Nicaragua have been mum’s the word, saying only that a special cross-sector committee headed by the Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales (MARENA) is considering the data and will communicate its conclusions in due time. Opponents of the mammoth canal scheme point to the ESIA situation as the most egregious example to date of how secretive the government has been regarding the estimated US$50 billion project, which it has been pushing hard since President Daniel Ortega was re-elected in 2011.

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