China and Colombia are planning to build a railway linking the South American country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Feb. 14. Chinese ambassador Gao Zhengyue said his government sees Colombia as its chief port of entry to Latin America. The planned 138-mile long rail line will run from the port of Cupica on the Pacific to the Gulf of Urabá on the Caribbean, then continuing along the coast to a new port to be built near Cartagena.
China—which just this week officially overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy— plans to import coal from Colombia, the world’s fifth largest coal producer and China’s second biggest trade partner. The coal will be transported on the planned rail line from mines in the country’s east. Trade between China and Colombia was worth $5 billion in 2010. (AHN, BBC World Service, Feb. 14)
The rail line will pass through the Chocó/Urabá region, one of the most violent in Colombia, and long a bastion of right-wing paramilitary groups.