In the 1980s, thousands of North Americans worked in solidarity with Nicaraguan ambitions to decide their own destiny, despite military interference from Washington. If you were in the San Francisco area, you almost certainly encountered Suzanne Baker, earnestly picketing or handing out informational flyers. It was easy to forget, or even not know, that Baker is a professional archaeologist. But she is and she knows whereof she speaks. According to her bio in the Nicaraguan magazine Envio:
Today some of Nicaragua's leaders and a Chinese consortium are moving ahead with a plan to supersede the current Panama crossing with a new canal. In the linked article, Baker enumerates many forms of damage the proposed canal might do:
There are plenty of Nicaraguans who think the ecological and cultural costs of building the canal are worth the potential development gains; after all, Nicaragua is still one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. There are many other Nicaraguans, including Father Ernesto Cardenal, who think the canal a very bad, short-sighted expedient. As it has always been hard for North Americans to understand, Nicaraguans will have to work out their own contradictions.
Graphic: Guilbert Gates for Portside.org