Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Secrecy charge levelled at Nicaragua canal project

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

An ambitious project to build a canal for container shipsacross Nicaragua has moved closer despite scientists’ concerns that the full assessment of its environmental impacts remain unpublished.

Last month (8 July), the China-based HKND Group — the company chosen to build the canal — announced the approval by a committee of government officials, businessmen and academics of one of the five proposed routes (see map below). It estimates construction cost at US$40 billion and says the canal could be open by 2020.

The proposed route for the Nicragua canal is more than three times the length of the Panama canal. Local scientists are worried that it could wreak havoc with Lake Nicaragua’s biodiversity.

The Nicaraguan government granted rights to build the canal to the Chinese group last year. It claims the project will create jobs and tackle poverty. According to government officials the canal would create about 250,000 jobs.

HKND also plans to build holiday resorts alongside the canal. ... Read More

Secrecy charge levelled at Nicaragua canal project

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

[BUENOS AIRES] An ambitious project to build a canal for container shipsacross Nicaragua has moved closer despite scientists’ concerns that the full assessment of its environmental impacts remain unpublished.Last month (8 July), the China-based HKND Group — the company chosen to build the canal — announced the approval by a committee of government officials, businessmen and academics of one of the five proposed routes (see map below). It estimates construction cost at US$40 billion and says the canal could be open by 2020.

The Nicaraguan government granted rights to build the canal to the Chinese group last year. It claims the project will create jobs and tackle poverty. According to government officials the canal would create about 250,000 jobs. HKND also plans to build holiday resorts alongside the canal. Telémaco Talavera, a member of the committee that approved the project, told Nicaraguan TV channel TN8 last month that the resulting rise in tourism will bring broad economic ... Read More

Menor demanda externa reduce crecimiento de América Latina

| August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


SANTIAGO – La menor demanda externa de materias primas por parte de los socios de América Latina y el Caribe, principalmente China, llevó a Cepal a reducir su estimación del crecimiento de la región de 2.7% a 2.2% en el 2014.

A la menor demanda externa se suma “un bajo dinamismo de la demanda interna, insuficiente inversión y un limitado espacio para la implementación de políticas que impulsen la reactivación”, sostuvo la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal) en un informe económico presentado este lunes.

El menor crecimiento de China es “el principal riesgo” en lo que queda de año para los países de la región exportadores de materias primas.

En tanto, el crecimiento de Europa y Japón, otros importantes socios comerciales de Latinoamérica, caerá de 0.5% a 0.2% y de 1.7% a 1.4% respectivamente, lo que también significará una menor demanda de las ... Read More

Putin’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Tour

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Geopolitics: Vladimir Putin blew through Latin America last week, handing out goodies to anti-U.S. regimes. But he insists he doesn’t want to reopen an old spy base in Cuba, which we find disingenuous.

The scope of the Russian president’s visit took the U.S. by surprise. Instead of just attending the World Cup final and a summit of BRICS countries, Putin made an unexpected visit to Nicaragua, with talk of a military land base there. He then flew to Argentina, reportedly with promises for two nuclear plants, and on to Venezuela to offer a credit lifeline.

Last but not least, Putin stopped in Cuba to sign deals on everything from electricity output to exploration for oil with Rosneft (the company whose unsavory oligarch, Igor Sechin, was the target of Wednesday’s sanctions over Ukraine). There was also a dramatic announcement that Russia would forgive 90% of Cuba’s $35 billion debt.

But on Thursday, Putin denied that ... Read More

China, Russia leaders seek South American inroads

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


It’s enough to make an aging U.S. Cold Warrior shudder.

During overlapping visits to Latin America, the leaders of China and Russia have been welcomed with open arms by governments that are among the most hostile to Washington, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Together with stops in Argentina and Brazil, which both have distanced themselves from the U.S. in recent years, the tours underscore the mix of ideology and economics that’s allowing the two superpowers to expand their influence in America’s backyard.

“These are all countries the U.S. has some real question marks about,” said Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University economist and expert on Chinese-Latin American ties. “It’s going to require some PR so as not to be interpreted in certain, phobic circles as an overt alignment with left-leaning governments at odds with the U.S.”

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin said their visits were focused on ... Read More

Putin’s surprise visit to Nicaragua fuels canal rumors

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch


Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Nicaragua as a “very important ally for Russia in Latin America” during a surprise stopover in Managua last night as part of his political/World Cup tour of Latin America.

In brief comments broadcast on Sandinista media outlets, Putin — the first Russian President to ever visit Nicaragua — noted that the two countries are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations, but that “we have to do a lot to continue developing our relations, especially economically.”

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, seated next to his wife and his favorite son, Laureano, called Putin’s visit “historic.” He compared it to a “lightning strike” — apparently meant in a happy way.

“We are very happy to have you in our land, which is your land,” Ortega told his Russian counterpart through an interpreter.

Ortega lauded Putin for his efforts to fight the war on drugs and to “fight for peace.”

Putin’s surprise ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

Financing still a mystery as Nicaragua plans giant canal

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

What went unanswered were two basic questions: Who’s going to pay for a canal with an estimated cost of $40 billion? Is China’s hidden hand at play?

By Tim Johnson

MEXICO CITY — The Chinese tycoon behind a plan to build a mammoth interoceanic waterway to compete with the Panama Canal whisked into Nicaragua last week and, in several appearances, including one with President Daniel Ortega, affirmed that “the biggest construction project in the history of mankind” has a green light.

In a lengthy appearance on state television Tuesday night, Ortega sat next to Wang Jing, the Chinese telecommunications magnate who has been pushing the plan, and pledged that the proposed canal “will permit the country to eradicate poverty and misery.”

The two promised that environmental damage during construction of the canal — at 173 miles long, more than three times the length of the one in Panama — will be minimal. Construction is scheduled ... Read More

Nicaragua Plots a Rival for the Panama Canal

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Lucy Westcott

There are a lot of doubts about whether a proposed canal in Nicaragua will ever be built, but the route of the waterway that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and potentially radicalize the world’s trading routes has been settled on.

The proposed route of the 173-mile-long canal cuts a path through Nicaragua at a cost of $40 billion, which is nearly four times the annual GDP of the Central American country. The Chinese company contracted to build the canal is expected to start construction in December. HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group), which is in charge of the building the canal, has said it will be completed in five years.

The construction of Nicaragua’s canal represents a second chance to reap the rewards a major shipping channel can bestow on a country after losing out on the opportunity to build one more than a century ago. With statements from government officials that ... Read More

UN pushes for migrants to be called refugees

| July 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald



SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum.

Officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees say they hope to see a regional agreement on that status Thursday when migration and interior department representatives from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America meet in Nicaragua. The group will discuss updating a 30-year-old declaration regarding the obligations nations have to aid refugees.

While such a resolution would lack any legal weight in the United States, the agency said it believes “the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries ... Read More

Central America’s Security Crisis is the United States’ Problem, Too

| June 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With the Obama administration scrambling to address the “humanitarian crisis” of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. southern border, let’s hope it has learned a sobering lesson about how presumably well-meaning (and politically expedient) words and actions on a such a hot button issue as immigration can have serious real-world consequences. Whatever the administration was trying to say or do over the past few years on immigration reform got lost in translation to thousands of Central American families whose only hope in life is to make it to the United States to find safety, security, and a decent day’s wage.

Reports are that the number of unaccompanied minors, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, detained at the border has more than tripled since 2011, with most of them believing — manipulated by unscrupulous human traffickers –that some sort of legal status awaited them.

As one regional expert told the Washington Post, what the ... Read More

Carter Center blasts Nicaragua’s electoral system

| June 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

Electoral watchdog group says Nicaragua’s democracy is in an ‘unfortunate chapter’ and Sandinista-stacked electoral system has ‘degenerated significantly’

he Carter Center today released a statement lamenting the Sandinista government’s recent renewal of its scandal-plagued electoral authorities, calling the move a “significant lost opportunity for this country to strengthen its battered electoral institutions.”

The international electoral and human rights watchdog group started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said the “image and credibility of the CSE, together with the standards governing democracy and elections in Nicaragua, have degenerated significantly in the wake of the confirmed fraud perpetrated in the 2008 municipal elections.”

The Carter Center added, “On Nov. 6, 2011, this same CSE organized and held the least transparent national election in Nicaragua in the last 20 years, the results of which have proven to be impossible to verify, setting a damaging precedent for the future of democracy in Nicaragua.”

The electoral watchdog group, which ... Read More

In 2013 (FDI) flows to Latin America reached a new historical high

| June 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

According to a report released by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on May 29th, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Latin America in 2013 reached a new historical high of US$184.9bn. This is welcome news, given weakening growth rates and softening commodity prices, and is testament to the continued attractiveness of the region’s expanding domestic markets and copious natural resources. However, the outlook is not all positive. Growth in FDI inflows is slowing, the region’s share of global FDI remains relatively low, and there is still a long way to go for the region to diversify away from services and natural resources.

FDI flows to Latin America have been increasing steadily since 2003, with the exception of 2006 and 2009, boosted by booming domestic demand (crucial for market-seeking investment) and high prices for commodities exports. In 2013 FDI to the region continued on an upward trend. ... Read More

Full circle

| May 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

ON MAY 9th American customs and border-protection officials launched an aerostat—a fat, tethered balloon—above the coast of Puerto Rico. Its job is to use radar to detect low-flying aircraft, ships and smaller vessels carrying drugs across the seas to the south. This is not the first time the island, a territory of the United States, has been home to an aerostat: an earlier one crashed in a storm in 2011. Now it needs one again.

William Brownfield, the State Department’s senior anti-drugs official, says that 16% of cocaine imports into the United States came through the Caribbean islands last year. That is up from 4% in 2011. For European cocaine imports, the proportions are even higher.

The rising volume of drugs coming through the Caribbean is an example of what drugs wonks call the “balloon effect”, the idea that increased pressure on one drug route produces a bulge elsewhere. Until recently, the ... Read More

Mystery Surrounds Building of Nicaragua’s $40 Billion ‘Phantom Canal’

| May 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

By Rafael Castillo and Amalia Morales


The Interoceanic Canal — the biggest infrastructural project in the history of Nicaragua — is also known as the Phantom Canal, or the project that will never happen. The canal, which will connect the Atlantic coast with the Pacific — as an alternative to the Panama Canal — has been on President Daniel Ortega’s agenda for several years, without anyone being able to successfully assert whether this project is real, or mere propaganda.

Those who do believe the project is actually happening are the Nicaraguan peasants who live in the way of the possible canal route. They are certain that Chinese citizens, along with military and police, are installing numbered cinder blocks in front of their homes, and then leaving.

“Is this canal really going to happen? No one has told us anything,” Carlos González, a local cattle farmer with over 1500 acres of land that ... Read More

Russia joins China in building Nicaragua canal

| May 7th, 2014 | No Comments »


WASHINGTON – As Russia continues to take strategic initiatives that put the United States on the defensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin is teaming up with China to help construct a trans-oceanic canal in Nicaragua that gives Moscow an even greater foothold in Washington’s area of influence.

The prospect comes as Moscow not only intends more massive arms sales in Latin America but, as WND recently reported, moves to establish a base in Nicaragua besides using existing facilities for refueling for aircraft and port calls for Russian warships.

In addition to Nicaragua, Moscow also is looking to establish bases in Cuba and Venezuela.

The establishment of permanent Russian bases and a major Russian presence in the Western Hemisphere will challenge U.S. policies and threaten to diminish Washington’s influence in the region.

And like a repeat of events leading up to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it will give Moscow a basis to stage offensive ... Read More

Costa Rica’s foreign minister accuses Russia of helping militarize Nicaragua

| May 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Tico Times

Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, who leaves office this week, expressed concern that Nicaragua is building up its military with the help of Russia. However, he said he is optimistic about pending cases before the International Court of Justice at The Hague concerning border conflicts with Costa Rica’s northern neighbor.

“Russia is facilitating armaments for Nicaragua, [including] ships, and they have discussed the purchase of aircraft and other types of armaments. I fear trouble,” Castillo said in an interview with the daily La Nación, published Sunday.

According to Castillo, San José’s problems with Managua aren’t limited to border disputes, and “Nicaragua is arming itself and entering a relationship with Russia of military dependence.”

Russia “announced the desire to have bases in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, with the euphemistic name of ‘bases for refueling and resupplying’ for its ships. But we know it’s not just about that,” Castillo said.

Castillo will be replaced in ... Read More

Iran Offers Economic Aid to Nicaragua

| April 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
FARS News Agency TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a meeting with his Nicaraguan counterpart Samuel Santos Lopez voiced Tehran’s readiness to help Managua with economic aid in various fields of energy, agriculture and industry.

“Iran is ready for economic cooperation with Nicaragua, specially in agriculture, industry, energy and development of infrastructures,” Zarif said during the meeting here in Tehran on Monday.

The Nicaraguan foreign minister, for his part, explained Nicaragua’s economic capacities and his country’s achievements in the field, and said, “Nicaragua is interested in expanding mutual cooperation with Iran in different fields, specially in economy.”

Also, in a joint press conference following the meeting, Zarif called for a boost in Tehran-Managua economic exchanges and cooperation in a move to further reinvigorate the two states’ bilateral political ties.

“The extensive political relations between the two countries will be further reinforced with economic bonds,” Zarif said at the press conference.

The Iranian foreign minister underlined ... Read More

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Latin America is now the world’s most violent region but is receiving less U.S. military and financial assistance, according to a recent report and other figures.

Latin America surpassed Africa as the region with the most murders per 100,000 people, according to the new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Several countries in the Western Hemisphere had murder rates that eclipsed 25 per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to the global average of about six.

The report said 30 percent of the homicides in the Americas could be attributed to a proliferation of organized crime and gang-related violence.

For example, Honduras had one of the world’s highest murder rates with 90.4 per 100,000 people. Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street gangs have infiltrated the country in recent years.

Some of the violence is fueled by those groups’ drug smuggling operations into the United States. ... Read More

Nicaragua looks to Russia to modernize army

| April 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch


The Sandinista government is turning to its old cold war arms benefactor to modernize its military and beef up its national defense capabilities.

In a speech to the Nicaraguan Army on April 4, President Daniel Ortega insisted that Nicaragua has the right to arm itself with modern weaponry, and again is looking to Russia to supply its military buildup.

Comparing today with the cold war, Ortega said Russian military support for Nicaragua is as important as ever.

“It’s just as important now to defend our right, the right that we Nicaraguans have to arm ourselves, to strengthen ourselves militarily; we have to modernize the army to provide these services,” Ortega said. “It’s just that simple.”

Since Nicaragua acquired an additional 100,000 sq km of territorial waters in the 2012 ruling by the International Court of Justice, the impoverished Central American nation has been trying desperately to beef-up its ill-equipped army to better ... Read More

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