Ortega Insists His Nicaragua Canal Project Is Still Alive

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada with Alexandr Lukashenko, Belarusian strongman. Photo from Nicaraguan government website “El 19 digital”.

He now affirms that Belarus could participate in its construction, as his regime continues looking for business partners in Eastern Europe.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguan foreign minister Denis Moncada didn’t discount the possibility that Belarus could lend technology and equipment to the construction of the decade-old failed project for an inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua. Moncada’s comments came on Friday, May 19, after a delegation of the Nicaraguan regime met in Minsk with Belarusian strongman Alexandr Lukashenko to discuss cooperation on infrastructure projects.

“During our conversation, we also spoke about cooperation in the area of infrastructure projects. I’d like to point out that the canal project is still alive, it hasn’t been halted,” Moncada told BELTA, the Belarusian government news agency.

Law #840, the “Special law for the development of Nicaraguan infrastructure and transport in connection with the Canal, associated free trade zones and infrastructure,” remains on the books in Nicaragua. However, the project itself, first presented in 2013, was never really begun.

Despite that fact, Moncada indicated: “Belarus could also participate in the implementation of infrastructure projects, including the canal.”

Ten years after the canal project was announced, an entire web of corruption involving 23 “shell companies” continues operating via the canal concession that Daniel Ortega awarded to the Chinese tycoon Wang Jing and the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Project. A recent book, Ruta Mafiosa: ¿Quiénes controlan la concesión canalera en Nicaragua? [Mafia Route: Who controls the canal concession in Nicaragua”], by environmental law expert Monica Lopez Baltodano and political analyst Umanzor Lopez Baltodano detailed this corrupt network.

Seeking more trade between the two countries

While the Nicaraguan delegation – headed by Foreign Minister Moncada and Laureano Ortega Murillo, son of the governing couple – spoke about the failed canal project, Lukashenko urged improved economic exchange between the two countries. He proposed raising their trade relationship to the highest level possible, similar to relations the former Soviet republic now maintains with Cuba and Venezuela.

The Belarusian ruler stressed other examples of such cooperation between Belarus and other Latin American countries; “Take Cuba, Venezuela, and other Latin American governments, with which we have very close relations  – not only political, but also commercial and economic. I  believe we need to do this with Nicaragua too,” Lukashenko stated, according to the BELTA news agency.

The leader added: “everything that Nicaragua needs, exists – even abounds – in Belarus.” However, he emphasized the need to “improve our relations, so that a contractual and legal foundation is created for our future economic relations,”

“This is a question of time. I believe that, if we put our minds to it, within a year not only will we have created the legal framework, but we’ll be beginning deep economic relations between our countries,” he declared.

In the same vein, Lukashenko invited Moncada to define Nicaragua’s interests, and based on that, to propose and determine future areas for cooperation. “We’re absolutely open to you; no topics are closed. We’ll accept your proposals,” he stressed.

Export credits and heavy equipment

This same Friday, Belarus and Nicaragua signed a series of agreements, including one on the granting of export credits.

“In the economic sphere, we talked, first of all, about the development of industrial cooperation and the use of Belarusian agricultural technologies in the development of agriculture in Nicaragua,” Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik, told BELTA.

In addition, the Belarus delegation was willing to supply Nicaragua with equipment for transport and road construction.

Both countries also signed an agreement for cooperation in education and are preparing another for the establishment of a visa-free regime.

“We have agreed to speed up this process,” said the Belarusian, who stressed that his country can contribute to the economic development of Latin American countries that want to stop being exclusively sources of raw materials and natural resources.

Nicaraguan regime interested in supplies

The Nicaraguan government announced on February 1 that it will import buses and agricultural equipment from Belarus.

Belarus has shown interest in selling cargo trucks, tractors, as well as road construction equipment to Nicaragua, according to official information.

This is Moncada’s second visit to the region in just over a month. He visited Russia at the end of March, where he discussed military cooperation between the two countries and the additional supply of wheat and buses for Nicaragua, among other topics.

Both Managua and Minsk have shown their full support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in his military campaign in Ukraine.

Nicaragua maintains that Russia is rightfully defending its “integrity and security”, while Belarus provides not only political support to Russia, but also logistical support in its war against Ukraine.

With information from Efe.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times

One thought on “Ortega Insists His Nicaragua Canal Project Is Still Alive

  • How nice it would be to see Belarus sink money into the canal project, which is doomed to failure. Lukashenko only hangs on to his position by fraud which is why although supporting Putin, he dare not enter Belarus directly into the Ukraine war, too many within his country being sympathetic to the people of Ukraine.

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