Nicaragua Sells Country, Gets A Chinese Canal?

Nicaragua Sells Country, Gets A Chinese Canal?

One of my proudest moments as a child was parking cars on my parents’ lawn for a University of Wisconsin football game for the first time. It was 1979, and I rushed down to “Off the Wall Records” and bought my first album, The Clash’s self-titled debut. Not the U.S released version but a $24, in plastic, U.K. import, I was six. The album had been out for a couple of years, but I had made $30 dollars parking ten cars on the lawn in a half-moon arrangement I had drawn up numerous times leading up to game day. I designed it with the understanding that I couldn’t drive, nor would many of the cars’ owners upon their return. No one was parked in, yet, I had something for the turntable that demanded time along with my father’s collection of everything Bruce Springsteen, a Nylons’ album, and something from Linda Ronstadt.

Nicaragua flag

The next season of parking for the lowly Badgers of the University of Wisconsin, saw the 4th studio album from The Clash, Sandinista! released. I rushed to buy it. That three album collection, which I still own, had six sides with six songs each, and showed The Clash’s softer side. No longer were Mick Jones and Joe Strummer taking all the writing credit, each song was credited to The Clash. It was a nod to world music and a nod to Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacionial, the group fighting to end the Somoza Dynasty installed after the United States’ occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930’s.

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I continued to buy vinyl and grew up with a great soundtrack. Especially after jumping high enough to hit my soccer coach with nothing behind it in the head. Not just a “proper football” coach but Wendy Tauber’s father in the head. While he thought he had simply kicked me off the team, he didn’t. He sent me to his daughter knowing he wasn’t home. This girl, this wonderful Wendy on her way to womanhood, explained apartheid to me. To this day, I miss her. I miss lying to my parents about soccer practice, finding enough change in the couch to buy cassettes for her to dub and expand my world. And no, it wasn’t the Specials who did “Free Nelson Mandela.” It was the Specials AKA. Thanks Wendy, that’s a point in a pub quiz somewhere.

Listening at that age to The Clash’s support of the leader of the Sandanistas, Daniel Ortega, didn’t resonate politically or otherwise for me. That is until Eugene Hosenfus crashed a plane, ultimately beginning the Iran-Contra affair. Yes, Contra … against, in this case, Ortega. It also began the coming of the word “gate” attached to all American political scandals that continues to this day.

Proposal Of Canal Through Nicaragua Yet to Come

I’d love to continue in this vein of nostalgia and days when I could punch a grown man as a ten year old with as many chins as I presently have, but I can’t. I surpassed the average 21st century attention span 200 words ago and I’ve yet to mention a proposed canal through Nicaragua.

I know I have a few drinks in me, and four cats outside, but … every noise I hear from them right now is Joe Strummer rolling in his grave. The reason? These words from one of Daniel Ortega’s minions yesterday …

“One of Nicaragua’s great riches is its geographic position, that’s why this idea has always been around,” Sandinista congressman Jacinto Suarez said during Thursday’s legislative debate. “Global trade demands that this canal is built because it’s necessary. The data shows that maritime transport is constantly growing and that makes this feasible. Opposing it is unpatriotic.”

This statement was made before a reckless vote that would allow a Chinese company to evaluate the value of a Nicaraguan canal, build it, and own it for $40 billion and 100 years while giving Nicaragua minority ownership only if it makes a profit.

Full disclosure: If I was writing of Apple, I would need to mention the Apple stock I own. I live in Guatemala and don’t much care for the people I’ve met, dealt with, and been robbed by in Nicaragua.

Like a Clash song, I’ll just leave you with more Sandinista and opposition lyrics knowing you can read more here.

“Approving this is unconstitutional, fraudulent and damaging to the interests of Nicaragua. The ‘great Chinese’ don’t have the capital or the experience for a work of this size. There’s no precedent to support it,” Eduardo Montealegre, the leader of opposition legislators, said during the assembly debate Thursday.

“Looking at the changing flows and where the growth is in the world economy, personally I’m not seeing it. I wouldn’t invest my money in it,” said Rosalyn Wilson, a senior business analyst at the Delcan Corporation, a Toronto-based transportation consultancy and author of the U.S. logistics industry’s annual report.

“It’s addressing a need that definitely is not here now and I’m not sure if it’s ‘a build it and they will come sort of thing,'” she said.

“Somebody Got Murdered” is still the best song from Sandanista! and great foreshadowing.

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