KINGSTON — In recent years, China has been actively cooperating with Latin American countries in their infrastructure projects, which are vital to local economic growth as well as their poverty reduction efforts.
A highway built and funded by a Chinese company officially opened on March 23 in Jamaica, creating opportunities for the Caribbean island to further boost the economy and reduce poverty.
The newly completed Jamaican North-South Highway links the capital city of Kingston in the south with the tourist city of Ocho Rios in the north, halving the travel time between the two cities.
The four-lane 67.2-km-long expressway, which cost $721 million, was financed, constructed and will be operated by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
At the opening ceremony, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness praised the project as a feat that paved the way for a prosperous future.
“We must treat this roadway as a runway for other investment projects to take off and secure a brighter, more prosperous future for Jamaica. We must take advantage of the new possibilities because they are critical to our nation’s development,” he said, adding his country looks forward to further cooperation with Chinese corporations.
The highway will not only improve the island’s transportation conditions, but also benefit rural areas along the road and further enhance the country’s industrial productivity by facilitating the flow of people and goods, said Jamaica’s Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry.
Venezuela, another important developing country in Latin America, has also launched large-scale welfare projects in cooperation with China.
In April, 2011, Venezuela’s Great Housing Mission was launched by then President Hugo Chavez after tens of thousands of families lost their homes in heavy rains and severe floods that swept the country.
The housing project aims to build 3 million homes by 2019. By the end of 2015, the keys to 1 million homes had been handed to low-income families.
Former Minister of Housing Ricardo Molina said the program offered a “new life” to underprivileged Venezuelans who had never hoped or dreamed of one day being able to move into a new affordable residence.
Chinese companies have played an important role in the project. China International Trust and Investment Company (CITIC) Group said it has built over 10,000 new apartments, generating more than 3,000 jobs for local communities.
Chinese-supplied heavy machinery has also been key to implementing the program.
Chinese equipment helped boost the pace of work at some 200 low-income neighborhoods around the country to improve living standards for more than 2 million residents, Manuel Quevedo, head of the government’s Barrio Nuevo, Barrio Tricolor (New Neighborhood) program, told Venezuelan television network VTV.
The social project is part of a government strategy initiated by Chavez and now carried on by his successor Nicolas Maduro to provide Venezuelans with such basic needs as free education and healthcare, as well as subsidized foods, medicine, technology and transportation, among others.
Farther south in Argentina, two dams being constructed with China’s help are set to bring development and much-needed jobs to the country’s remote Patagonian region.
The projects, valued at $4.714 billion, “are being completely financed with credit from Chinese banks,” the country’s former Minister of Planning Julio De Vido said late last year, adding Argentina secured “unprecedented funding” from China, and “under very favorable conditions, in terms of both cost and the strong participation of national companies.”
The projects are expected to generate 6,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs, according to De Vido.
Named after former President Nestor Kirchner and former governor Jorge Cepernic, the dams will provide 4 percent of the South American country’s annual energy needs, estimated at around 5,000 GWh, and provide energy to over 1.5 million homes.