Thousands of farmers, youths and activists have protested in Nicaragua against a planned inter-oceanic canal which they said threatens to take their land and pollute Central America's largest freshwater lake. The group marched in the capital Managua, waving Nicaraguan flags and chanting "no to the canal" and "out Chinese," referring to the Hong Kong-based company, Hong Kong Nicaragua Development, set to oversee construction and administer the canal for the first 100 years. It was the first national protest against the proposed US$50 billion-waterway which will connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is set to break ground later this month, after a number of regional protests in the areas along its planned path. This project will only "fill Chinese wallets," said Darling Cruz, 25, a farmer who participated in the peaceful demonstration as police stood watch. On the road, some young protesters painted the words "Ortega is selling out our homeland," while others collected signatures for a petition to raise their concerns to international level. "We don't want to cut Nicaragua in two," said Wilson Pross, 27, who strongly criticised the government for issuing the 100-year concession to administer the canal, arguing that even his children won't see profits from the project. And farmer Porfirio Garcia, from Nueva Guinea in the country's south, said, "We don't want them to come and trample our land and our rights. "What will our families live on? What are you going to live on in the cities if we're the ones supposed to produce food for people to eat?" President Daniel Ortega has said the waterway, aimed at rivalling the Panama Canal, will create enough jobs to help alleviate the poverty hitting more than half the population of the Central American country. Panama earns about US$1 billion annually from its canal. The Greater Inter-Oceanic Canal Commission, which is managing the project, said it would pay fair prices to landowners whose property is taken for public use.