Fernando Núñez Fábrega, Panama’s foreign minister, is on a trip to Britain this week. The point of the visit is to sign his country’s 25th double taxation treaty. But he is likely to find people more interested in his views on Chinese plans to build a rival to Panama’s canal in another Central American nation. So, before he left, beyondbrics asked him what he thought. Read more

Wang with Ortega

Since Nicaragua decided this month to allow a little-known Chinese-backed company to cut the country in two with a new waterway rivalling the Panama Canal, curiosity has been building.

Who is Wang Jing , the man behind the US$40bn project? So far, the public only knows that Wang chairs HKND, the newly-registered group that received the 50-year concession, and that he is also chief executive of Xinwei, a telecom equipment maker in Beijing. Read more

The move by Mineros, Colombia’s leading gold producer to acquire a majority stake in Nicaragua’s Hemco, highlights two trends — one is the arrival of billions of dollars of Colombian capital in Central America, the other Nicaragua’s efforts to boost its growing mining industry. Read more

Mother Nature has dealt Central America a lousy hand. Earthquakes, floods and hurricanes of biblical proportions have battered the isthmus over the years, but the latest natural disaster is a botanical one.

A plague known as “coffee rust” has hit the region’s top-quality arabica crop. Premium blends from coffee grown in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are much loved by aficionados. Read more

China is steadily winning hearts, minds and – more importantly – pocketbooks as it pierces the last redoubt of its once fiercely competitive diplomatic revival, Taiwan.

While Taiwan’s claim to be the authentic government of China has all but vanished in the rest of the world, Central American nations continue to support it. Only Costa Rica has broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to forge links with Beijing. Read more

Nicaragua may be a small and very poor country but its president, Daniel Ortega, certainly thinks big.

His latest proposal is to build a canal that would be similar to Panama’s at an estimated cost of $30bn – about four times as much as Nicaragua’s gross domestic product. The project is awaiting appraisal by the nation’s legislature. Read more

Indigenous Panamanians protest recent changes to the country's mining lawThere’s gold in them thar Central American hills. Gold and several other valuable minerals. Mining companies, especially Canadian, are courting the region yet most of the governments are playing hard to get, if not being openly hostile.

All of which must be pretty perplexing to at least some of the companies. World prices of metals remain high while Central American economies are some of the world’s most vulnerable. Surely a slam-dunk for the miners? Read more

Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad is assured, quite literally, a warm Latin American welcome during his tour of the region this week. When Iran’s president left Tehran, the temperature was in single digits. In Caracas, Havana and Managua, by contrast, it will be in the balmy high teens (although Andean Quito is a chilly 10). Read more