The Great Nicaragua Canal Scam

Daniel Ortega and Wang Jing when they signed the canal concession back in 2013. Photo: Confidencial

The promise to resurrect the dead interoceanic canal project confirms the decline of the regime, when the post-Ortega era is already beginning


By Carlos F. Chamorro  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – This past Tuesday, during the anniversary of the Naval Force celebrated with the top brass of the Nicaraguan Army, the dictator Daniel Ortega revived his promise to build an interoceanic canal, which according to his official plans should already be about to be inaugurated this year 2019.

In June 2013, Ortega proclaimed with much hype that we had reached the “Promise Land” when he granted an obscure Chinese businessman, Wang Jing, and the company Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (HKND), a [100-year] canal concession which is detrimental to national sovereignty through law 840.

The Ortega-Wang Law not only gave Wang Jing the entire national territory for the alleged construction of the canal, but also granted him full discretion to develop or transact in a dozen megaprojects, set up in a deliberately speculative business scheme.

According to the promises of Ortega, the great interoceanic canal should be inaugurated at the end of this year, and in its construction by now 250,000 jobs would have been created, and the economy would be growing from last year between 12% to 15% annually. That is how it is written in the official plans which were promoted around the world by Ortega’s personal delegate to Wang Jing, his son and business operator Laureano Ortega Murillo, and Minister Paul Oquist, seller of illusions of the regime.

The reality of this bizarre story, as everybody here knows, is that Wang Jing has disappeared for three years, his company never dug an inch of land, nor could it raise a tenth of the 50 billion dollars of investment in six years. Therefore, according to the canal law itself, the Nicaraguan State is already entitled to repeal this law without incurring any economic damage to the country. But that will be up to the new democratic government and a new legislature that will bury the dictatorship of Ortega, after free elections.

Meanwhile, the only thing left to the country by this megaproject, negotiated secretly without any transparency, is the most scandalous act of corruption in national history, in which the only beneficiary has been the Ortega-Murillo family. A real mega-scam, which must be investigated by an International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Nicaragua, a supranational entity that, like the CICIG of Guatemala and the CICIES of El Salvador, will be established by popular mandate in the new Nicaragua.

After four years of silence, when the failure of the canal has become public, Ortega has tried to resurrect the dead before the high command of the Armed Forces in a pathetic staging, which reflects the decline of a regime that no longer has anything to offer, not even to his supporters.

The announcement of the resurrection of the canal means that the post-Ortega era has already begun. Because what is implanted in the national agenda is not Wang Jing’s canal, but Ortega’s departure from power and the abrogation of Law 840 by a new democratic government. Likewise, what will be present on the agenda of the Nicaraguan Army, once the top officers led General Julio Cesar Aviles are replaced, is not the protection and defense plans of an imaginary interoceanic canal, but the plans for disarmament of the paramilitary gangs under a new democratic government.

The only tangible legacy of the unborn canal is the peasant movement which was organized to defend their lands, and asserted the defense of national sovereignty. An autonomous movement, now led by peasants Medardo Mairena and Francisca Ramirez, and with its more than 100 protests marches, cleared the path of the April rebellion. That peasant movement that defeated the dictatorship in the canal route, in the marches, in the roadblocks, in prison, and in exile, today is an inseparable part of the present and future of Nicaragua, while Ortega is part of the past, and will be buried in the mausoleum of traitors.

6 thoughts on “The Great Nicaragua Canal Scam

  • The Ortega regime should be broght to Justice and punish for all the atrocities vomited to the Nicaraguan people him and his cronies should be imprisoned and all the millions of dollars stole from the people of Nicaragua should be returned this stupid criminal and his accomplices should pay for their crimes

  • There is at least one person who would wish to invest. Stand up and be counted Manuel!

  • Couple more thoughts.

    While a lot of the workers needed to build the canal and related projects will have to be imported, an honest Nicaraguan government will insist upon a significant percentage of the employees be Nicaraguan citizens and this percentage should increase during the time of the project as more Nicaraguans become trained in the needed tasks and can now perform the jobs.

    New roads of lasting endurance should be built to facilitate the construction.

    At the end of the project most of the construction equipment stays in Nicaragua. Except for some very special machinery, it would be too costly to transport out of the country. And unlike the allies who,after driving the Nazis out of northern Africa, dumped their war machines into the Mediterranean Sea as it would be too costly to transport to Europe to fight the Nazis there, this equipment can stay in Nicaragua and be used for further public and private construction. With all the spare parts of damaged vehicles and Nicaraguan ingenuity , there is a goldmine here for further economic development and construction of new and better highways throughout Nicaragua.

    Think big. Dream big. There is hope for Nicaragua.

  • I do not know if you can find a financial backer that has the money to build this Canal. But China seems to be the only realistic possibility.

    China might do it to gain the prestige for the 21st century that the US got in the 19th century by building the Panama Canal.

    But if an honest government in Nicaragua were to pursue this project it should couple the purification of Lake Managua as part of the deal. The vast fresh waters of Nicaragua are wasted when sent down the San Juan River. Instead a sizable part of that fresh water should be diverted north to Lake Managua. The contents of the current lake should be dumped over dams into channels toward the Pacific Ocean. The electricity from these dams could be used to pump the water up to Lake Managua from Lake Nicaragua. After the lake is purified, the water going over the dams could be used to irrigate very good soil in the region the canals pass through.

    Under the current plans for the canal much new agricultural land will be created.

    The persons who are displaced by the canal should be given access to the new lands and the new shore lines created by all the reservoirs built to operate the canal.

    Displaced owners should be fully compensated for their lands at the value of the land after the canal is built.

    I can not fathom why the Nicaraguan government wants to screw the owners of properties necessary for the construction of the canal. This is simply stupid. The price of the land acquisition is peanuts to the total costs.

    The canal should be built with reasonable environmental concerns. The potential value to all of Nicaragua is worth the risk.

    The new fresh water reservoirs and fresh lakes will bring much enjoyment and much economic activity.

    There are numerous problems but Nicaragua has a chance to create the greatest man made wonder in the history of mankind.

    Do not be petty. Think big!

  • Unfortunately this Machiavellian and ruthless autocrat will not relinquish power so easily.
    Even if the elections are monitored by an independent organization there will be bloodshed and riots.
    Ortega was ousted by Chamorro and the people reelected him and are now facing the consequences.
    Ortega and his sycophants have no moral rectitude nor the least inclination to give up power. Avarice at its zenith.

  • While I share your share your sentiments about The great empty suit…Ortega , you give no solid reasons why you think he will be defeated in a free election. You say that the mere revival of this ridiculous claim by Ortega is reason to believe he is finished. I think it is empty claim by an aging dictator but by no means is it the beginning of the end for this regime. This family will probably win the next election fairly or unfairly and limp along for quite some time as the opposition, while brave and certainly committed, is just not strong enough or organized enough to do anything about it. For the sake of this wonderful country and the beautiful people who inhabit it I wish you right but you do not tell the readers anything new or exciting about why you make this claim.

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