Who Owns the Panama Canal
|At the end of 1999 the Panama Canal was handed over to Panama. It has belonged to the United States since it was completed 85 years ago. They maintained a strategically important military base there. The construction of the canal was the fulfillment of the vision of revolutionary shortening the sea route that led around the tip of South America. The implementation had a lot to do with the economic interests of Europe and North America. Panama became the scene of this story by chance of its geographical location. The canal is only 82 kilometers long but a dream come true: the connection between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Spanish conqueror Vasco Nunez de Balboa had already crossed the isthmus in 1513 and was the first European to reach the Pacific. In 1534, Emperor Charles V had the possibility of a water connection examined. Great thinkers from Benjamin Franklin to Goethe have studied the fiction of the connection between the two oceans. Alexander von Humboldt discussed this with US President Thomas Jefferson, he found the area too wild and mountainous to carry out such a project.|
|It was the Americans who sent scouts to Panama in 1835. They also came to the conclusion that it was impossible to build a canal here. But the idea was not given up. Forty years later, the Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps drafted a plan for the construction of the canal. In 1881 the time had come: construction began. The work went slowly, although up to twenty thousand people worked there. The construction was supposed to be financed through bonds, but business didn't go well. The French had to give up. When the Americans sent a warship from the west coast to the Caribbean 10 years later, the canal idea became topical again. The voyage took 67 days, the ships would only need 9 hours through the canal. In 1902 the Senate votes with a narrow majority for the Canal in Panama and against the alternative in Nicaragua.|
During the construction phase
On August 15, 1914, the canal was ready, the steamer "Ancon" made the first official passage. The world is amazed at the technical marvel.
Now the political history of the Panama Canal begins as the Panamanians allow the Americans to maintain control of the Canal Zone. An American base is created. But the blacks who built the canal with their hands and at the risk of their lives now live in slums, separated from the whites. There are repeated unrest in the American-controlled area. The first attempt by the Panameños to break into the canal zone began in November 1959. The insurgents received ideological support from Fidel Castro. In 1961, Cuban rebels land on the coast of Panama. They want to get the people of Panama to attack the canal, but they are unsuccessful. The control and military presence of the Americans during the Cold War is too strong.
In 1977 there was a major turning point in politics. It is agreed that at the end of 1999 the canal should return to Panama. Nevertheless, the USA is continuing to expand its military base, because the Americans see the greatest danger in the Noriegas military dictatorship in Panama. The Panama Canal is closed on December 21, 1989.
The flag of Panama
Version: 11-dec-99 / HBu Rev .: 11-Dec-04/11-Jun-11 / HBu
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