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Everyone Wants In on a Bioceanic Corridor in South America

April 2015

This article is published on the Executive Intelligence Review website and is re-published here with permission.

South America: Transcontinental Railroad

April 14, 2015—Planning has exploded on where, by whom, and how soon the building of transcontinental railroads can begin across the South American continent, a continent where as of now not one single such railroad exists. People in different countries in the center of the continent are initiating fights to ensure that one rail line or another passes through their country, on its way to connect different ports on the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Paraguayan Congressman Carlos Nunez Salinas announced on April 10 that he is introducing a bill to declare the construction of a Pacific-Atlantic Bioceanic Corridor a matter of "national interest." A pre-feasibility study was done in 2011 on a route running from Paranagua, Brazil to Antofagasta, Chile, crossing Paraguay and Argentina. He charged that the current government (and he’s from the government party) is ignoring the project, and if it doesn’t get into action, Brazil, Argentina and Chile will go ahead on a different route without Paraguay, and we will be left "outside the great regional events." Nunez emphasized that construction of the Paraguayan section of the rail line would create 40,000 jobs directly, another 20,000 related jobs, ensure the long-term development of Paraguay, and transform the country into a regional transport center.

Bolivia is leading the continent in driving to get construction started. The Bolivian Ministry of Public Works, Services and Housing organized the "Railroad Forum: Central Bioceanic Corridor," in the city of Santa Cruz on April 9-10, for Bolivian businessmen and government officials and representatives of the Swiss/German and the Chinese consortiums readying bids for constructing the Bolivian portion of the Brazil-Bolivia-Peru route. Vice Minister of Transport Ariel Cortes there outlined a even more audacious plan for modernizing the entire national rail infrastructure, connecting the two existing eastern and western rail lines, and upgrading platforms, to rails, cars, etc. so as to "leap from a 19th century rail to one of the 21st Century."

Michele Molinari, president of the Swiss Molinari Rail AG, presented the advantages of Swiss rail technologies, and argued the project could be completed in three to five years, at the latest. .Yu Wu, a top official from China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC)’s Americas Division, spoke of the benefits of the rail corridor for the productive sectors of Bolivia generally, including agroindustry.

The participation in the forum of a Peruvian advocate of the project, Carlos Melo, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and President of the Local Economic Development Committee for the port city of Ilo, Peru, boosts the prospect of a rapid advance on this route. Melo is organizing national support in Peru for this bioceanic corridor, speaking to Correo daily upon his return about the benefits which will come from building this "spinal cord which will unite the central part of Latin America." His committee will be hosting a similar forum in Ilo for the first days in May.

And this report doesn’t include the myriad of discussions of more southern routes running across Argentina and Chile.