Making Contact

The Controversial Nicaragua Canal

1895 Nicaragua Canal Cartoon
1895 Nicaragua Canal Cartoon

Officially opening in 1914, the Panama Canal connected the Atlantic and Pacific creating a short-cut for ships. It was the biggest infrastructure project of its time. But originally the United States wanted to build the canal in Nicaragua. The plans shifted largely after French engineer Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla convinced U.S. lawmakers otherwise. Well now the Nicaragua canal plans are back on the table. Nicaragua plans to build a $50 billion canal to connect the Caribbean and Pacific. Supporters argue it will create more than 250,000 jobs. But small farmers and environmentalists say the project will destroy Lake Nicaragua. On this edition, we ll take a look at the economic, political and environmental controversies surrounding the Nicaragua canal. Reporter Reese Erlich has the story.


Maria Mercelin, fisherman s wife; Michael Healey, head of an agribusiness association; Monica Lopez, anti-canal activist and lawyer; Lionel Teller, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the EU; Rosibel Lope, owner of snack bar on Ometepe Island; Jairo Carrilon, anti-canal coalition leader; David Quintana, spokesperson for Foundation for Nicaraguan Sustainable Development; Benjamin Lanzas, member of the canal s governing body; Juana Juarez, resident of Ometepe Island; Osvaldo Navas, Ometepe Island leader; and Antonio Granados, land owner whose property lies directly along the canal route.

Host: Laura Flynn

Producers: Andrew Stelzer, Laura Flynn, George Lavender, Jasmin Lopez

Contributing Producers: Reese Erlich

Executive Director: Lisa Rudman

Web Editor: Kwan Booth

More information:

Foreign correspondent Reese Erlich is author of five books, most recently, “Inside Syria: the Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect,” foreword by Noam Chomsky.

Twitter: @ReeseErlich

Facebook: Reese Erlich Foreign Correspondent

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