China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a monolithic enterprise. Across seven BRI port projects in Central America and the Caribbean, we find evidence that the project partnerships between China and recipient countries vary significantly regarding construction processes and end results.
BRI investment depends on numerous factors, including coordination between the Chinese government and the recipient country's government. When this coordination is undermined by domestic political changes, civil society movements, or international pressure, BRI projects may be cancelled or indefinitely delayed.
This Tearline article discusses findings from a project which uses open-source data collection and imagery analysis to study the impacts of Chinese development financing in Central America and the Caribbean. The article examines evidence from seven BRI ports across six countries. The port expansion in Santiago, Cuba is completed, but imagery reveals that three of four other ongoing BRI port projects have been delayed and no further construction has occurred in recent months. The remaining two port projects were cancelled.