A nation divided

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 220-223
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6270.220

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When the Nicaraguan government vowed in 2012 to revive a long-dormant idea to carve a canal through the heart of the country, scientists expected a national debate on the project's merits. More than three times as long and twice as deep as the recently enlarged Panama Canal, the $40 billion Grand Canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would be the largest civil earthmoving project in history, with a social and environmental footprint to match. But in June 2013, when Nicaragua's government asked its National Assembly to grant a 50-year concession for the canal to a Chinese firm, approval took just 2 days. Now, after the release of a massive impact assessment of the project, and just months before the company says it will break ground, the debate has begun in earnest.

  • * in Managua