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Nicaraguan jobs: must speak Mandarin and Russian

Monday, May 12, 2014

Russia wants to invest in a Nicaraguan inter-ocean canal.

So does China, which last year was awarded a canal contract by the government of Daniel Ortega.

Russia and China might want to own an important transport operation.

They might also want to have an area of influence in Nicaragua, little more than a thousand kilometers from the United States.

The latest news is that Russia wants to invest in a Nicaraguan canal, which would link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, according to comments last month by the Russian foreign minister.

So does China, which is already moving ahead on a plan.

The Nicaraguan government in late 2013 awarded a Hong Kong company $40 billion contract to build and operate a waterway, which would be wider and deeper than the Panama Canal, and through which the world’s biggest ships could pass.

It would be a difficult project.

Ships would have to be lifted 33 meters – 100 feet – to Lake Nicaragua, and dropped back down.

The locks would have to conserve water, to stop the lake from draining away.

Even with conservation, the lake would need constant dredging, in order to have enough water to float the latest generation of container ships.

On the other hand, both China and Russia know to build megaprojects.

The Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River is the world’s biggest power station.

Russia in 1916 opened the Trans Siberian Railway, the world’s longest at 9,300 kilometers – nearly 6,000 miles.

China may have a head start on a potential canal project.

But Russia has a long relationship with Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.

Nicaragua has for several years been Russia’s main trading partner in the region.

The Soviet Union armed Ortega’s Sandinista Front during the Central American civil war of the 1980s.

In terms of motive, either China or Russia could be interested in a canal project, for business reasons.

The Panama Canal last year earned a profit of 50% on revenues of $2.5 billion.

The two countries may also have other objectives.

The United States supports claims by Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Vietnam to underwater resources in the western Pacific, which Beijing says belong to China.

Meanwhile, Washington leads various Western countries, in opposing Russian intervention in Ukraine.

In the circumstances, both Russia and China may be interested in having a base in Central America, located only 1,500 kilometers – barely 1,000 miles – from Miami.