At noon on December 31, 1999,
the United States will ceremonially hand the government of Panama
the monumental canal which was created by
American ingenuity, grit, sweat and fortune.
USA GAVE CHINA PANAMA CANAL
Treaties worked out between Panama and the U.S. in 1977
by then presidents Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos,
resulted in the shutting down of the U.S. military apparatus
and the controversial "reflagging" of the canal
from the United States to Panama.
The following excerpts are taken from a National Geographic article written five years ago, in 1999, just before the United States handed the Panama Canal to the corrupt government of Panama, which then handed it to Communist China.
All the best,
Panama's Rite of Passage
By Lewis M. Simons, National Geographic, November 1999
...There is harder, dirtier work, certainly, but polishing the boots of foreign soldiers occupying your country is not something most of us willingly would choose to do. Yet Gonzalez is delighted to have this job, serving the officers and men of Building 127, Theater Support Brigade, Fort Clayton, Panama, U.S. Army South. But he’s also sick with worry, knowing that come the end of the year, they’ll leave and with them his livelihood of 21 years.... No matter what new occupation he undertakes, he knows that nothing will pay nearly as well as boot polishing for the GIs. At Fort Clayton he earns between $250 and $300 (U.S.) a month for helping the soldiers look sharp. As a onetime net hauler aboard a shrimp boat, he knows that manual laborers in Panama are lucky to get six or seven dollars a day, less than half what the Americans pay him.
"Every day I pray to God that the gringo doesn't leave," Gonzalez tells me as he takes a short break, wiping sweat from his forehead with the back of a polish-blackened hand. "All my life I thought the Americans would never go. And until I see them get on their airplane and fly away, I’ll continue to believe this." Then he glances down at his own shoes, once white sneakers, the backs squashed flat for ease of entry and egress. He shakes his head slowly, grudgingly acknowledging the reality: "It’s very bad for our country that they’re going; the biggest mistake Panama has ever made."
At noon on the final day of 1999 the United States will ceremonially hand the government of Panama the monumental canal, which was created by American ingenuity (U.S. engineers commanded nearly 75,000 workers from around the world in the ten years of construction), fortune (387 million dollars [U.S.]), grit, sweat—and connivance—at the outset of a century Americans now claim as their own. The last of some 7,000 U.S. military and civilian buildings in the former Panama Canal Zone, a ten-mile-(16-kilometer-) wide strip of land bracketing the waterway along its entire 50-mile (80-kilometer) length, also will be turned over. And the last American soldier will leave.
At the peak during World War II the U.S. had 60,000 troops in Panama. Even a decade ago 11,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed there, and the military pumped 350 million dollars into the country’s economy each year. The U.S. forces directly employed 2,800 local civilians in a variety of jobs, ranging from clerks to plumbers. Since the "zone" was always run as an outpost of the U.S., Panamanians who got these prized jobs were paid almost at U.S. levels. This created anomalies: Bookkeepers for the U.S. Army earned as much as executives in Panamanian corporations, clerks as much as doctors. The plum jobs, however, were-and will remain — on the canal itself, and by the end of this year the 9,000—member workforce will be almost entirely Panamanian.
Alfonso Gonzalez isn't alone in wishing the full U.S. presence would continue, or in his gloomy outlook. As many as 78 percent of the country’s 2.8 million people, according to a 1996 poll, hope the gringos won’t go. And like Gonzalez, they anticipate bleak times ahead as the final phase of treaties worked out between Panama and the U.S. in 1977 kicks in. Those agreements, negotiated by then presidents Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos, resulted in the shutting down of the U.S. military apparatus and the controversial "reflagging" of the canal from the United States to Panama.
Although Panama has existed as a country since 1903, the U.S. involvement has been so overwhelming that people here have never learned to feel independent. Now, for the first time since Theodore Roosevelt used gunboat diplomacy to wrest the Isthmus of Panama from Colombia and create a special-purpose state where the United States could build and run the canal, Panamanians are on their own....
Of all the uncertainties ahead, the one most on people's minds is what will happen to the canal and the facilities in the Canal Zone. Although of little military use today, the canal is still vital to international shipping, cutting the distance between, say, Tokyo and London by 4,500 miles (7,240 kilometers). Every year 14,000 ships pass through it, carrying more than 4 percent of the world’s trade...
As we cleared Gaillard Cut, a landslide-prone strip notorious for breaking spirits during what the Americans called simply "the work," a shrill whistle sounded in the distance, and the air reverberated with the blast of dynamite. Perhaps no other place along the canal so graphically illustrates the struggle between the men who dug it and the land they were taming. The cut runs for more than eight miles (13 kilometers) through rock and shale, the very core of the Continental Divide. What you don't see as you cruise past its black, steeply sloped wall is the 48-foot (15-meter) depth beneath the surface of the water. Again and again as this channel was dug, earth slides buried men and machines, stalling progress.
Now the Gaillard Cut is being broadened and deepened as part of a one-billion-dollar (U.S.) improvement on the eve of the handover. These improvements will clear a canal bottleneck, enabling two-way traffic for larger vessels within the cut for the first time.
"We’ve always dreamed of having everything under our flag," said Tejada. "Now we’ll have to do everything right, and that will help the national spirit." He broke off our conversation to call a new direction to the navigator. But his burst of patriotic optimism was at odds with the worries so many others had expressed.
A nervous start is understandable, according to Ambler Moss, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and now the director of the North-South Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. "Too many things are happening at once — they're taking charge of the canal; they're trying to convert the bases; the troops are leaving; they’re getting a new president. But," he said, "Panama has less reason to worry than the Philippines did. It's close to the U.S. The U.S. needs the canal. Other countries, especially in Europe and Asia, need the canal too, and they want to invest.”...
Back on the bridge of the Southern Ace, Tejada and I resumed our discussion, but the direction of his thoughts had shifted. "In theory the new national law adopted by the government to operate the canal totally isolates it from politics. But in Panama the politicians always have a way of misconstruing laws so that they work out to someone's personal benefit. That's the problem in Panama."
Like Tejada, some Panamanians anticipate that once the handover is completed and the Americans have gone home, politicians will dip into the lucrative canal as if it were their private piñata, loaded with goodies. A leading critic is Maylin Correa, the outspoken and popular mayor of Panama City from 1991 until early this year. Over lunch at her spacious but simply furnished office in City Hall, a grime-encrusted building at the edge of the capital's old quarter, she claimed that while 5,000 jobs are being lost, the national government "is putting Panama up for sale." What Correa meant was that assets from the canal were already being siphoned off to those close to the outgoing president, Ernesto Pérez Balladares. "The people are not benefiting," she said.
Balladares, whose term ended in August, was reviled in the local press, particularly the widely read La Prensa, as well as by his political opponents, for appointing relatives and friends to the canal board of directors. In a lengthy conversation while he was making an out-of-town helicopter trip, he laughed dismissively when I asked him about the claims. "I've chosen those with the best capabilities, and I’d choose the same ones all over again."
The new president is Mireya Moscoso, widow of Arnulfo Arias — three times elected president and three times overthrown by the army — and the first woman to lead Panama. On the eve of her victory in May, Moscoso promised to replace Balladares's appointees as soon as their terms expire, some next year. "We need to tell the world we are prepared to manage the canal as well as the United States," she said....
Ever since the Isthmus of Panama became a stone-paved pathway for gold- and silver-laden Spanish mule trains five centuries ago, the region has attracted people on the make. Today Panama City's shoreline prickles with tinted-glass towers housing 104 international banks. They're here in part because of loose banking rules, which allow Latin American drug traffickers to launder their millions, but also because Panama's currency is the U.S. dollar (and will remain so), which helps protect the economy from high rates of inflation.
If Panama has drawn more than its share of adventurers, pirates, con artists, and other scalawags, this same dubious distinction has made it one of the most cosmopolitan centers in the world. Large numbers of Chinese and Indians, Arabs and Jews, Europeans and West Indians have come in, some legally, others not, set up shop, and assimilated to one degree or another....
People in Metetí, and practically everywhere else I traveled in the country, share the anxiety that once the U.S. military presence is removed, Panama — which has a 16,000-member police force but no longer an army of its own — will be even more vulnerable to Colombian drug runners and insurgents...
For people as poor as Francisco Mepaquito, these twilight days of the American presence bring the worry that they will grow only poorer in the years ahead. The rush of soberania, sovereignty fever, that greeted the Torrijos triumph — Panama even named a national park and a beer for the newfound emotion — is long gone....
When I stopped to speak with a group of women chatting beneath a broad red-and-green-striped umbrella, they were more concerned about the impending departure than bitter about the past. "It’s not an easy matter to discuss," said Aracelys Bethancourt, a 30-year-old mother of two, wearing a red tank top and yellow shorts. "Sovereignty is important, it's true, because it means we're free to express ourselves and to do as we like in our own country. But I don't trust our politicians. I’m afraid there's going to be a lot of unemployment and poverty.”
She said that her husband, a housepainter, considers himself lucky during weeks in which he makes $60 (U.S.). He doesn't receive any social security or insurance benefits. To supplement his income, Bethancourt sells paper plates of fried chicken and beet-dyed potato salad, a dollar apiece, from a small table under the umbrella. "Most of the men in this neighborhood work for the Americans," Bethancourt said, "and they earn five dollars or even seven dollars (U.S.) an hour plus benefits."
So, while she and her family eke out a life at just above the poverty level, their neighbors doing manual labor on the U.S. payroll have been earning at least four times as much.
Americans in Panama, whether they're in the armed forces or work for the canal, say they, too, regret having to go. Robert Will, 51, was born in the Canal Zone, a third-generation "Zonian." His grandfather was a pilot, his father a tug captain, and he's a tonnage surveyor, assessing ships' weights to determine their tolls. Except for two years in college and a year in Vietnam, Robert has lived all his life in the Canal Zone. His wife, Denise, 43, came from Minneapolis in 1967 with her parents — her father supervised the locks — and she, too, works for the canal, compiling a history of the U.S. presence...
*CHINA ATTACK USA BY PANAMA?. Global Security, Nov 17, 1999
Panama has signed a 50-year lease for two ports at each end of the Canal with Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa Company, run by Li Ka-shing, who is closely associated with the Beijing regime. This gives China's Communist Party de facto control over the most strategic waterway in the West.
PANAMA CANAL DEATH KNELL
Deng Goes to Washington (34 years ago), January 29, 1979 - 2013
Long before he got to the White House -- the first Chinese leader ever invited to a formal state dinner with a US president -- Deng Xiaoping had started a transformational march leading his nation out of Maoist orthodoxy toward 21st-century superpower economic status. On January 1, 1979, after decades of American denial, Jimmy Carter recognized Beijing's Communists as China's rightful government, relegating Taiwan to a political sideshow. Less than a month later, Deng -- once forced to wear a dunce cap and renounce himself during Mao's so-called Cultural Revolution -- was dining with the president, while the disgraced Richard Nixon, whose 1972 China visit had paved the way to normalization between the two great powers, was invited back to witness the occasion. Other stops on Deng's tour: Coca-Cola, Boeing and NASA.
listen JACKIE JURA INTERVIEW ALL ABOUT ORWELL, with Patrick Timpone (...discuss how USA under President Clinton gave China the Panama Canal in 1999 based on treaty by President Carter in 1977...)
Palin warns China is preparing military offensive (missiles/submarines/ultramodern aircraft) & China flexing military muscle (pushing against USA military). DailyMail/Intel, Mar 23, 2011
Obama serves China's Hu American apple pie (White House guest list advances agenda) & Made in USA: Americans fight back over imports (China owns the United States now) & Buy, Buy American Pie song (grandma didn't bake it/made in Shanghai). NYMag/France24/UTube, Jan 21, 2011. Go to BYE BYE AMERICAN APPLE PIE & CHINA IN CANADA SAYS SPY CHIEF & REMEMBER WHO HU IS
Rain closes Panama Canal 1st time in 96-yrs (USA built 1903-14/handed over control 1999). AlJazeera, Dec 9, 2010
OZ & CANADA FUEL CHINA'S NUKES (nuclear waste will be taken to Tibet) & China currently building 20 nuclear reactors (will consume 15,700 tonnes uranium a year) & China's Nuclear Great Leap Forward (plans 100 new reactors by 2030) Canada planning to fuel China's nuclear needs (imperative China secure long-term supply) & Aussie gov't happy selling uranium to China (no concerns supplying China's nuclear arsenal). Globe/AusRadio/ABC, May 4, 2009. Go to USA LETS CHINA SCAN NUKES & CHINA NUKES THRU PANAMA? & ARMING OUR ENEMIES
USA concern at China's military muscle (beyond Asia-Pacific region). AFP, Mar 6, 2008. Go to USA DOWNPLAYS CHINA THREAT
USA LETS CHINA SCAN NUKES
CHARLES' CHINA TAKEAWAY TALK and CHINA ATTACK USA BY PANAMA? and USA GAVE CHINA PANAMA CANAL and USA APPLAUDS CHINA TAKE CARRIBEAN and CHINA AND US
CUBA COMMUNIST CHINA STYLE
PANAMA CANAL DEATH KNELL
Bush backs enlarging Panama Canal ("It's in our nation's interest") & Canal too narrow for Chinese ships (carrying goods to USA). Guardian/WashTimes, Nov 8, 2005
"Nationalize oil & gas" say Canadians (& cut taxes & fix pump price). CBC, Sep 6, 2005
Zimbabwe police arrest 9,000 traders (violently removing Zimbabweans to make way for the Chinese). Guardian, May 26, 2005 & Zimbabwe's new colonialists (Mugage has "yellow fever"). Weekly Standard, May 26, 2005. Go to ZIMBABWE GOING RED CHINESE
Possible referendum on Panama Canal (USA gave canal to Panama in 1999). May 5, 2005
USA watches China woo Carribean (Beijing's growing economic clout is tipping scales in Western Hemisphere). ABC News, Feb 23, 2005. Go to USA APPLAUDS CHINA TAKE CARRIBEAN
China spying on us: CSIS (visiting students, scientists steal Canadian technology). National Post, Dec 29, 2004. Go to CHINA SPIES ON AMERICA
PANAMA FALKLAND REVELATIONS (hands around world's neck - USA gave Panama Canal to Communist Chinese and British ships carried nukes to Falkland War)
1978: Jimmy Carter wins Panama Canal battle, BBC, Apr 18, 1978 (...Last September President Carter signed two treaties with Panama's leader, General Omar Torrijos Herrera. The first provided for the gradual transfer of the canal to Panamanian control on 31 December 1999. The other declared the canal neutral territory and open to vessels of all nations. However, the US has retained the right to defend the canal, preferably in support of Panama but alone, if necessary....)
CHINESE TAKE-OVER and 6.Super-States and 7.Systems of Thought
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