Most Nicaraguans think the $40 billion canal megaproject proposed by the Ortega administration and its Chinese business partner HKND Group is a realistic endeavor that will be brought to fruition, creating new jobs and prosperity in a country that desperately needs both, according to a new government survey conducted by Sandinista pollsters Consultora Siglo Nuevo.
The polling firm, which claims it surveyed 7,000 people in every municipality of Nicaragua last weekend, found that 73% of the population thinks the Chinese-commissioned canal project is feasible, even though no feasibility studies have been performed. Only 6.5% of those polled said they think the project won’t work, while 7.6% said they’re not sure. An additional 9.6% scratched their heads in befuddlement when asked about the Nicaragua Canal, while the remaining 3.2% stared unblinkingly into the middle distance without answering the question.
Asked if people think the canal will get built as advertised by the government, 70.8% said yes, 10.8% said they weren’t aware of any canal project, 10.7% said maybe, 1% said they don’t care either way, and 1% stared blankly.
A third canal-related question revealed a similar division of responses. Asked, “Do you think the Nicaraguan Canal will bring work and prosperity to the country?” 71% of Nicaraguans answered in the affirmative.
Other survey questions asked by Siglo Nuevo seem to offer insight as to why so many Nicaraguans are so eager to believe in the canal megaproject, which the government has promised will double the country’s economic growth and triple levels of formal employment. When the polling firm asked people to identify their primary concerns in life, a combined 74% said a lack of employment, their family’s economic situation, or simply deprivation. The three-quarters of the population that is worried about finding work and making ends meet is almost the exact percentage of people who said they believe the canal project will happen.
Looking on the bright side of the numbers, Tomás Valdez, chief pollster for Siglo Nuevo, said the canal is inspiring hope in most Nicaraguans.
“The Great Canal includes eight other big projects, so that means there is great hope that this will improve the situation here for youth, families and the community,” Valdez told Sandinista media.
Nicaragua’s opposition has accused President Daniel Ortega of acting like a snake oil merchant by peddling the canal dream as a catholicon for all of Nicaragua’s economic and social woes. But Valdez says his survey shows the skeptics are in the minority, and that their “dissident voices” have failed to discourage people into thinking the project will flop.
“Here the population believes the canal is possible to achieve, so those who are leading this monumental project for our country should be encouraged to keep on pushing forward, which is what they are doing,” Valdez said.
The Siglo Nuevo poll also found that 71% of Nicaraguans think their country is changing for the better, while 75% think President Ortega has done a good job at the helm.