From: Reuters
Published October 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Nicaragua Seeks New Canal to Link Atlantic, Pacific

MANAGUA — Nicaragua wants to build a waterway like the Panama Canal that would link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at a cost of $18 billion, President Enrique Bolanos said Monday.

He told a meeting of Western Hemisphere defense ministers in Managua it would take 12 years to finance, design and build the canal.

"It is not only feasible but it is necessary," Bolanos told the ministers in a presentation of the canal plan.

The waterway would link the Pacific with Lake Nicaragua, also known as Lake Cocibolca, and then with the Escondido river which empties into the Caribbean at the port of Bluefields.

The canal would be able to handle large ships of up to 250,000 deadweight tonnage, Bolanos said, and would be complementary to the Panama Canal.

Panamanians will vote in a referendum Oct. 22 on whether to expand their canal. Nicaragua says there would still be demand for a new waterway even if the Panama Canal is expanded.

The dream of an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua goes back to the 16th century when the country was ruled by Spain.

The United States originally planned to build a canal through Nicaragua before switching to Panama in the early 20th century after a French canal construction company there went bankrupt.

Source: Reuters

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