Gandásegui, Another US-Panama clash?


cash raceRisk of a collision between Panama and the USA

by Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

The interests of the North American financial center, whose seat is in Manhattan, with all of their global ramifications as well as Washington’s political interests, are not alien to that which is regularly published in The New York Times. Panama and the rest of the world’s countries are systematically caricaturized by an establishment that seeks to mystify and cover up their blacked out financial transactions that ever more serve to underdevelop people around the world.

A little while ago USAID (a US government agency) and others pointed out the papers of the law firm Mossack Fonseca, with its headquarters in Panama. Later the US Department of the Treasury put the spotlight on the Waked Group of companies, which was put on its “Clinton List.” More recently the Times washed all of the Panama Canal Authority’s dirty laundry with respect to the canal expansion (and in passing that of the country).

That last coverage was full of half-truths. It’s the same institution that published the Times reports attacking Noriega between 1987 and 1989, that opposed the Omar Torrijos foreign policy, that put its spin on the January 1964 student insurrection — and we can go back accumulating examples into the 19th century.

The reporting about the contradictions that characterized the canal modernization attempts to belittle the Panama Canal’s expansion and take advantage of the weaknesses that surrounded the megaproject. It started with the group that won the contract to build the new locks. It ended with the composition and dubious reputation of the ACP board of directors. On the way it visited the doubts about the new locks’ engineering. All of the rumors circulating among the workers gave the Times take a spicy flavor.

The Wall Street bankers, who still feel like they are the owners of the interoceanic waterway, face major competitors both on the global scale and on the isthmus. They are very weak here, almost out of the contest. In the first place, the international community wants to see a canal that’s capable of satisfying the trade demands of the countries on the shores of the world’s two biggest oceans. At the forefront of this sentiment is the waterway’s second largest user, the People’s Republic of China. One quarter of their exports — especially to the USA — depend on the Panama Canal.

Also out of it is the Panamanian government, absent and incapable of confronting any US intelligence and information offensive. Panama was militarily invaded in 1989 and since then has has no autonomy from Washington’s policies.

If the Panamanian elite don’t react intelligently to the American attacks in the short term, they will have to face a crisis similar to many others that are well known over the last 160 years of ur history. This crisis represents dangers, but also opportunies. But what are the opportunities of which Panama might take advantage?

There are several ways out of the trap that the United States has set for Panama’s dysfunctional oligarchy — and in passing, for all Panamanians. The first is that some sector can unite the different social sectors of the country around a clear and precise objective that identifies a national project. The elite seem to have that ability.

The second is to gather the countries of the region in a conference or alliance that undertakes a careful analysis of the relations between Panama and the United States. Something like the “Torrijista Way,” or the 1826 proposal of the Liberator Simón Bolívar, who convened the Anfictionic Congress in Panama City, with plenipotentiaries from all of the recently independent republics.

Third would be to take the problem (with all of the intelligence information about it) to the United Nations, where countries like China and others would have a voice that would allow Panama to face the United States with more opportunities than it presently has.

The Americans and their mouthpiece, The New York Times, know that the Panamanian oligarchy is divided and at this point are fighting among themselves over the lucrative business of the proposed port at Corozal on the canal’s southern entrance. Their myopia only lets them see the glitter of gold that the land along the canal represents.They do not realize that there is a whole country that’s eager to work and build a nation that will benefit its future generations. The oligarchy has to give up the helm before it’s too late.


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