In a few years, round-the-world cruisers may be able to avoid the cesspool of Panama without suffering the Horn if a recent International Court of Justice ruling stands. That’s because Nicaragua just awarded China a 100-year concession on a new Atlantic-Pacific canal if the Chinese can build it in just 6 years. The new canal would be a hell of a lot bigger in every dimension than even the supersized Panama Canal that’s currently being redeveloped, big enough for the mega-cargo and container ships now being built.
A Chinese-controlled transoceanic canal would obviously have profound effects, but Columbia and Costa Rica are crying foul at the ICJ, which decided late last year to award 75,000 square kilometers of marine and submarine areas to Nicaragua – territorial properties that may be essential to the new project. In an editorial for Bogota magazine Semana, Columbian officials seem to accuse an ICJ judge of collusion with longtime Nico lobbyist Carlos Arguello and accuse the ICJ of ignoring both the law and existing treaties in their decision in Nicaragua’s favor. Anyone who’s studied the birth of the Panama Canal would see some deja vu here; it was the US government that forced a bizarre coup and the independence of Panama, stealing an entire nation to build a canal from a Columbia that that didn’t want anything to do with it. Columbia may get the distinction of being fucked by two superpowers more than a century apart over the same damn ditch. Hey; at least there’s no malaria…but look out for the sharks!
Anyone with an interest in an area where shipping and the sea meet geopolitical reality should check out The Path Between The Seas; a fascinating account of the painful birth of the Panama Canal.