|A threat to Colombia? Old plans for a canal across Nicaragua are coming back. (Photo: Wikipedia)|
In 1903, Colombia had just finished the bloody Thousand-days civil war. In Colombia's presidency was José Manuel Marroquín, a philosophy professor who reportedly was more passionate about writing books on grammar than governing. And the country was still smarting from the dismemberment it suffered when Ecuador and Venezuela broke away from La Gran Colombia.
|It could have been Colombia: Construction of the Panama Canal (Photo: Wikipedia)|
|A ship crosses the Panama Canal.|
|No warrior: Colombian Pres. Jose |
Colombia's Congress gave the Yanquis the cold shoulder and made big demands for the canal concession.
|Theodore Roosevelt: |
A rough rider.
Instead of losing temporary control of a corridor of land, Colombia lost a whole province.
It's interesting to think about how things would be different if Colombia had cooperated with the Roosevelt administration. Today, Panama would likely still be a Colombian province, giving Colombian much more economic and geopolitical importance.
But there's no changing history.
And today, Colombia's unfortunate relationship with Central American canals may be heading for a repeat.
The recent Hague International Justice Court's ruling expanding Nicaragua's Caribbean waters breathed new
|Nicaragua still claims Colombia's San Andres archipelago, |
located off of Nicaragua's coast. A nearby canal would
impact them economically, geopolitically and
The Nicaraguan government is moving ahead with a concession to a Chinese company to dig a canal across the country. (There had also been talk of the Chinese building a 'dry canal' in the form of a railroad line between Colombia's Pacific and Atlantic coasts.) After the Hague ruling, some Colombian officials even suggested that the Chinese interest in building such a canal could have influenced the Chinese judge on the panel, but there's no evidence for that.
|The Seaflower Marine reserve around the San Andres |
archipelago would be hit with pollution and exotic species,
as well as huge sea traffic, if an inter-ocean canal is
dug across Nicaragua. (Photo: Unesco)
Adding a major shipping channel will also produce huge environmental impacts from ship movement, ship wastes and the introduction of exotic species. That's particularly worrying for Colombia's Seaflower Marine Sanctuary around the San Andres Islands. (Colombia is using the sanctuary to challenge the recent Hague court ruling, but its chances for success look slim.)
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours