Thousands protest against massive Nicaraguan canal

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Nicaragua’s capital Managua last week in protest over a the massive canal project intended to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The demonstrators said their land was being taken away to make room for the project, which is being undertaken by a Chinese billionaire.

The new waterway (possible route pictured) will stretch 278km through Nicaragua, with part of it crossing Lake Nicaragua.

Expected to include two ports, an airport, a resort and a special economic zone, the project cost has been estimated at up to $50bn.

Construction is due to start this month, on 22 December, project officials said last month. The plan is to build the canal within five years and have it operational by 2020.

The protesters waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans, with most coming from villages along the planned route, BBC News and other international media reported.

On 20 November, HKND Group, the Hong Kong-based company owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jing, together with the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project Commission, presented progress reports on the environmental and social impact studies of the project to what HKND called an "enthusiastic audience" of 300 in a government auditorium.

Government officials have said the canal would have a minimal impact on the environment and that it would create 50,000 jobs in one of Central America’s poorest countries.

But protests along the canal route have increased in recent weeks with thousands of people concerned that their property would be appropriated without proper compensation.

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