Undoubtedly, the biggest scam in Nicaraguan history, and certainly also in the history of Central America, is the appropriation of Venezuelan cooperation by Daniel Ortega and his cohorts. More than $5 billion dollars went into their pockets, if we stick to the data published by the Central Bank.
But there is another scam that is not far behind, although of another kind. I am referring to the fairytale of an Interoceanic Canal. For now, the magnitude of funds transferred is unknown, or how much was embezzled or are still being transferred. All, under the cover of one of the most treacherous concessions any Nicaraguan government could have made. And, think about it, in the subject matter of sell-out governments, unfortunately, there is much to show in our history. But no other gets even close to Ortega, in spite of his vociferous speeches about traitors.
Beyond the strictly financial aspects, the canal project and the campaign unleashed by the servile, official and unofficial spokespeople of the regime, charmed minds and ambitions. Taking advantage of a century-old dream, Ortega did not have the slightest distress in compromising the country’s sovereignty for a hundred years to an obscure Chinese speculator. He granted rights that neither Emiliano Chamorro, nor the other traitors of his lineage, ever dreamed of giving.
Ortega, with the tall tale of the canal, conned businessmen, who saw themselves with their pockets full of licit businesses and shady deals. The first and only bidding was for the widening of a dirt road that this entire fanfare was reduced to. Meanwhile, government union leaders were drawing up lists of more than 50,000 workers that would be hired. They rubbed their hands dreaming of the huge union dues that they would have to fleece.
The high-level mafiosos were counting with the juicy bribes with which they will swindle the rich and the poor. The religious leaders allied of the dictator, protestants and Catholics, lavished blessings and psalms in their hopes of abundant tithes and alms. Ortega also conned many thousands of Nicaraguans, it must be said, who spurred by need or spellbound by the siren’s song, anxiously waited for the manna to fall from heaven in the form of a canal.
Well, about six years ago, around this time of December, we saw Ortega, very snooty, waving a document that contained the treacherous concession, warmly hugging Wang Jing. We saw Chinese people, in mid-day sun, in Rivas, mixed with the hierarchs of the dictatorial regime, very snobbish, with gleaming hard-hats, in what they called the opening act of the works of the grand canal.
“I invite you to remember this great moment. This moment will surely be inscribed in history… I announce the beginning of the works of the Nicaragua Grand Canal!”, declared Wang Jing, exciting with his words and promises, the greed and delusions of the mafia in power.
There were photographs left and right with the benefactor and prophet of this wondrous construction work. They were accompanied by the gleaming machinery that would begin to build the silk road of the XXI Century. It was like a story conceived by the wild imagination of Garcia Marquez.
Later it turned out that the marvelous machinery, like a cruel circus, were nothing more than trucks they borrowed from a City Hall. They shined them, put some decorations on them and presented them as miraculous technology.
Regarding Wang Jing, who made so many hearts vibrate, he never appeared again. What happened to him?
According to the same ads repeated over and over again by the tireless salesman of hoaxes… Do you remember Telemaco Talavera? By the way, Telemaco also disappeared. He who was so fascinated to appear with charms and spells that flowed incessantly of his fallacious verbiage… What happened to him?
Everything was rigorously planned in programs and schedules. The construction would last six years. That is, about this date we should be waiving handkerchiefs, full of joy, greeting the transit of more than 3,500 boats that would be transiting the gigantic ditch, leaving behind a trail of dollars, yens, yuan and euros.
The canal was programmed for full operation in 2020
In any other country, such a resounding failure, such an ostentatious scam, such a joke of the grand canal, would have brought down any government. It would be the object of ridicule and derision for the rest of history. Let’s just remember that more than a hundred years later, we still reproach the Chamorro-Bryan Treaty.
But the political costs of a failure are not paid if they are not collected. And we Nicaraguans have not made the dictatorship pay the political cost of such a failure.
We should rub it on them, over and over again, at any chance we get.
Where did the funds spent came from? Who were the laughingstock?
What happened to the brilliant studies and the flaming companies that supposedly were committed to the project?
What happened to the investors? Where is the HKND company hiding? What happened to Wang Jing?
If the canal deflated as a leaky balloon, why didn’t Ortega repeal this treacherous law giving the concession?
These are questions we should rub it in over and over again.