We have recently heard reports of a new multi million dollar development in Guatemala which is scheduled for 2010.
There have been rumours for the last few years regarding a potential development which will rival the Panama canal. Information available is scarce and it seems that this is intentional. The proposal is to build a dry canal (140 meter wide, 327 km long 8 lane highway, with a high speed railway, airport, and other associated infrastructure) that spans the entire breadth of Guatemala in order to link the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, reducing transport times between the coasts. Construction of this “dry canal” has already begun in the region of Chiqimula.In June there will also begin the construction of three new ports; 1 on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala , 1 on the Pacific coast in Guatemala (close to La Barrona), and 1on the Pacific coast of El Salvador (La Union). Investors from the US, Spain, Brazil and Japan are fronting 12 billion US $ for the project. It seems that this idea of a dry canal has been discussed since 1997 and is now coming to fruition. The following are links to the recent article:
Coming from the angle of sea turtle conservation we are very concerned as this development is likely to have detrimental affects on the nesting populations of leatherback Dermochelys coriacea and olive ridley Lepidochelys olivacea turtles.There are obvious social and economical benefits to the countries involved however it is also important to be realistic about the immediate impacts that construction will have socially and environmentally. Looking at it from both a short term and long term perspective, the environmental effects on the nesting beach at La Barrona will be massive. Every type of pollution imaginable will occur; from water pollution to light, air, and noise pollution, whilst the 12 km of sea turtle nesting beach at La Barrona is likely to disappear completely due to beach erosion. Issues such as ballast water discharge are of great concern as this will undoubtedly introduce invasive species, contaminate water quality and ultimately affect the marine food web which will affect Guatemala’s fisheries. See this recent article on a similar development in India:
All in all potentially devasting. However information available is very limited. We are anxious to obtain more comprehensive details of what the construction of the port will entail, i.e. size of the development, its exact location, its position in relation to the beach, will it be dredged etc. We are calling on anybody who may have further information to the above proposal and although we realise that there is little we can do to prevent such an influential development which is backed financially by foreign investors, we may have some leverage if we can find out as much as possible on the “super” port. Please get in touch and/or post any comments.