Excitement Greeting Proposed Central American Train, as Part of Regional Development Program
Aug. 2, 2019 (EIRNS)—The proposal to build a Central American train that would connect cities throughout the region, from Panama to Mexico, generated much excitement July 30 when it was announced at the Central American Parliament (Parlacen). The Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE) has given the go-ahead for the project that carries a $40 billion price tag, and will require international financing.
Although nothing has been said explicitly about China’s role, there’s little doubt that China’s involvement in building the high-speed rail from Panama City to Chiriqui, on the Costa Rican border, was very much a factor in activating this proposal.
The project is also integral to the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan for Southern Mexico and Central America, devised by the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and presented in Mexico on May 20, 2019, with the firm backing of Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, who insists that the only way to deal with the region’s migration crisis is through economic development.
The project for the “development and modernization” of the Central American railroad system has been discussed as part of Parlacen’s 2018-2019 agenda, but now a broader regional meeting is planned, likely for October, to include leaders from all the participating countries, according to Parlacen’s president, Salvadoran Deputy Irma Amaya, the Argentine daily Infobae reported July 31.
BCIE, which functions in the framework of the Central American Integration System (SICA), will be key in obtaining financing, according to Deputy Amaya, who explained that the project provides a great opportunity for countries such as Qatar and European Union nations to “support this type of megaproject that will absolutely benefit the nations of Central America.” The idea is to enhance “connectivity” of all the region’s nations—Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. No mention has been made of Belize, but it would obviously benefit as well from this project.