Bulldozed by Progress: How a #Nicaragua Canal Could Change Communities

posted Aug 6, 2013, 2:28 AM by Peter Joseph Moons   [ updated Aug 6, 2013, 2:29 AM ]

A New Canal in Nicaragua will Impact the Citizens in its Path

August 6, 2013

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons

     The much trumpeted canal through Nicaragua proposes to bring an economic boom to the country, but may spell doom to the average denizen. Nicaraguan citizens in the impacted zones of any new canal, port facility, railroad, container farm, etc will have to relocate, of course, and along with them, their established communities and ways of life.

     Some serious questions the Nicaraguans should ask are these: How can construction occur without destroying communities? What compensation will inhabitants receive? Will the relocated really recover even if moved optimally? Who is going to profit most from a transportation link between the seas: the average Nicaraguan, national or foreign business interests, or elected representatives? This last question prompts the ideas of Jeremy Bentham's Utilitarianism: What is the greatest good for the greatest number of people in this situation?

     If the Government of Nicaragua follows the Chinese paradigm of the Three Gorges Dam project on the Yellow River, then the societal effects will be catastrophic for the average Nicaraguan. However, if so, the rest of the world may never hear of their plight for they lack a voice to express themselves, or worse, their concerns and tribulations from relocating may be silenced. Certainly progress needs to occur and usually does so at someone's or something's expense.

     The PRC's Three Gorges Dam endeavor displaced millions of people when the government relocated hundreds of villages. Communities, families, ways-of-life, and the collective heritage of millions were negatively affected. Likely, Nicaragua's government may have to expropriate or engage effectively in 'eminent domain' actions to acquire the surface area necessary for their canal's operation. Before the Nicaraguans put the first shovel to earth, they might best employ the mantra of carpenters worldwide: 'Measure twice, cut once.'