In the debate over where to build what would eventually become the Panama Canal, the decision came down to the route that was eventually taken, and another route that went through Nicaragua. The Nicaragua route was to make use of Lake Nicaragua, a path that would have right off the bat taken a lot of work out of the process. Panama was picked at least partially because France had previously attempted it, done part of the work, and then abandoned it. The United States just bought the French interests and picked up where they left off.
Not that this has stopped people from occasionally wanting to put a canal in Nicaragua anyway; doing so would cut hundreds of miles off a northern route (and remember how much of global commerce occurs north of Nicaragua). The Lake Nicaragua section has never been in dispute; the rest of the route has been altered from proposal to proposal. I mention this because the Nicaragua Canal proposal has been floated again. And just like in Panama, the canal is being floated by a burgeoning power flexing its muscles.
You shouldn't have to be told who that might be. (Hint: it's China.)