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The New Chinese & Russian Nicaraguan Canal in Latin America

Updated on June 10, 2014
The plan
The plan
The US plan for a canal in 1902
The US plan for a canal in 1902

For over a 100 years, there has been the Panama Canal that allows ships to move from the east to west, west to east without the tedious route that takes one around the tip of South America. It has saved millions in time and money. For the most part, America has been responsible for its defense and built it. Politically, it has made the USA a focal point in Latin America with this influence.

Most countries in Latin America are very much pro-USA with the exception of Nicaragua, which has had a history of anti-USA and heavily influence by Cuba. At one time, Cuba attempted to export its communism there that result into a civil war with the ruling party. It is still in a questionable state today.

Being in such a state, both China and Russia find it to be easy prey to challenge the USA in its own region. In 1961, Russia tried this by shipping nuclear missiles to Cuba. Since that time, there has not been a lot of interest. Of course, Iran has close relations with the country for its uranium and reports state they have para-military forces there.

China, Russia and Iran. They just seem to the usual group always opposing the USA on a consistent basis.

By the end of 1014, the construction will be begin on a new Panama-like canal that will be wider and deeper and be able to handle ships up to 270,000 tons,. The Panama Canal is only 69 ft. deep and 40 ft. wide.The Nicaraguan canal will be 72 ft. deep and 65 ft. wide. The cost, shared by China and Russia, will be $40 billion. Ironically, the plan US engineers thought of and then rejected when the Panama canal was being planned was considered, but a different one was chosen. From the Atlantic, it will begin at Venado Island and cross to Lake Nicaragua and connect to Brito on the Pacific Ocean. The total length is 175 miles and involve four locks to raise water. It will include two deepwater ports, two free-trade shipping zones, an international airport, a railway, and an oil pipeline. The canal will be three times the length of the Panama canal and would need to make $1 billion per year. During construction, it will destroy around more than 1,500 square miles of rain forest and wetlands. The freshwater Nicaraguan lake is the countries major source and will require dredging. Salt water could easily infiltrate into the ecosystem home to many rare species.

Once the canal is completed in 2029 (all stages), China will be be the primary entity that operates it and builds it. Russia will be primarily its defense with Russian warships and airbases being built there. These assets will deploy later this year as construction begins. Thousands of Chinese and locals will be used to build it. For Putin, it is just yet another way to "stick it" to the USA in a soft handed, legal way, much like the billion dollar deal with China for Russia's natural gas. It is Russia's way to diversify should harsh sanctions occur.

Some Russian experts think the canal is risky and really has little interest for Russia because of its location. These experts say the deal benefits China much more because they need the shorter route more than Russia that uses the Northern Sea Route via the Artic. Russian gains from the presence of its military in Latin America and politically.

China gains another "colony" so to speak, much like they have done in Africa, where the Chinese exploit their resources from poor nations and then leave. China is a new Imperial power on that continent.


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