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Atlantic-Pacific canal underway in Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan government recently authorized the construction of a canal that will connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

A Chinese investment company, Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group, will subsidize the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project, and plans to complete the canal in 2020.

The project has brought concerns among the citizens about environmental and social effects, according to Reuters.

The Environmental Resources Management Ltd. has demanded that the Nicaraguan government verify that project builders and users will follow international standards such as protecting biological reserves and assessing possible earthquakes. The company also said that it needs to verify that there is sufficient water to fill the 175-mile-long canal.

Patricia Morales, freshman mechanical engineering major from Nicaragua, said that building the Nicaragua Canal is not a good idea because it will harm important places in the country.

“Any option that creates environmental harm should not be considered an option,” Morales said.

Effects on freshwater bodies and deforestation are some of the environmental concerns that have risen with the decision of building the canal, according to Business Insight in Latin America.

Playa Grande, a small fishing village, will be an area affected by the canal.

“Playa Grande and all the Nicaragua beaches are important for the tourism of the country,” Morales said. “If they build the canal, the Ometepe Island will disappear too.”

Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group plans to manage the project for 50 years, and it could have an extension for another 50 years once the project is done, according to sputniknews.com, an international news source.

Carmen Selva, senior electrical engineering major from Nicaragua, said that even though the canal construction is a partnership between two countries, the benefits would not be the same.

“China will have more benefits than Nicaragua because it is the one that is interested in the project,” she said.

Russian companies are ready to participate in the construction of the project once it shows progress. Selva said she thinks that the project could negatively affect certain international relations.

“Definitely the relationship between the United States and Nicaragua will be affected. Right now [the U.S.] does not have an extraordinary relationship with Nicaragua because of the socialist ideology of Nicaragua. It will be worse if Russia gets involved,” Selva said.