On Tuesday, December 6, news broke that the government of Panama had awarded a $1.4 billion contract to a Chinese consortium to initiate a new infrastructure project on the Panama Canal. The new contract will allow the Chinese consortium to begin construction of a massive bridge over the Panama Canal connecting Panama City to its western suburbs. This deal comes directly after Chinese president Xi Jinping paid a visit to Panama—the first Chinese leader ever to do so—during a 4-part tour to Spain, Argentina, Panama and Portugal. President Xi’s tour overlapped with the occurrence of this year’s G20 Summit in Buenos Aires.
The Communications and Transport Secretary in Mexico has proposed a regional rail project, the Tren Transpeninsular (TTP), to connect major beach resort areas and several major archeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. A GSPIA capstone class taught by Marcela González Rivas, Policy and Planning in Development Countries, is working with a local non-profit in Mexico, Foro para el Desarrollo Sustentable, who has been hired to conduct a preliminary assessment of the potential social impacts of the TTP.
Many Latin American countries are home to vast slums that cover large parts of cities. These slums are almost completely disconnected from the infrastructure of the main cities, including roads and public transportation. Cities with large slum populations such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires were all built to transport people via automobile and bus with little room for people who can only travel either by foot or by bicycle.