ABSTRACT Seeking economic growth and job creation to tackle the nation’s extreme poverty, the Nicaraguan government awarded a concession to build an inter-oceanic canal and associated projects to a recently formed Hong Kong based company with no track record or related expertise. This concession was awarded without a bidding process and in advance of any feasibility, socio-economic or environmental impact assessments; construction has begun without this information. The 278-km long inter-oceanic canal project may result in significant environmental and social impairments. Of particular concern are: damage to Lake Cocibolca, a unique freshwater tropical lake and Central America’s main freshwater reservoir; damage to regional biodiversity and ecosystems; and socio-economic impacts. Concerned about the possibly irreparable damage to the environment and to native communities, conservationists and the scientific community at large are urging the Nicaraguan government to devise and reveal an action plan to address and mitigate the possible negative repercussions of this inter-oceanic canal and associated projects. Critical research needs are herein identified to inform a comprehensive benefit-cost assessment for this megaproject. Keywords: Nicaragua, interoceanic canal, HKND, environmental impacts, social impacts.
Limited data are available regarding the molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains circulating in Guatemala. Beijing-lineage Mtb strains have gained prevalence worldwide and are associated with increased virulence and drug resistance, but there have been only a few cases reported in Central America. Here we report the first whole genome sequencing of Central American Beijing-lineage strains of Mtb. We find that multiple Beijing-lineage strains, derived from independent founding events, are currently circulating in Guatemala, but overall still represent a relatively small proportion of disease burden. Finally, we identify a specific Beijing-lineage outbreak centered on a poor neighborhood in Guatemala City.