45 years ago, today : Op-ed

The privileged geographical position of Panama, since the times of the Spanish Empire, was essential for its expansion, and developed the transit system that dominates the world today. This geographical position enabled the construction of a transcontinental railway, in the middle of the 19th century, because of the California gold rush.

The Isthmus of Panama was therefore appealing to the French company that built the Suez Canal in 1869. It started the waterway in Panama but failed in 1889, and when the completion of the water route was presented as something essential for world trade, the United States tried to negotiate with Colombia, Panama being part of that country. However, that negotiation was rejected, which caused Panamanian economic and political groups to conspire to establish an independent country.

The independence of Panama from Colombia is associated with the construction of the canal through the isthmus, resuming the works that the French had begun. However, without considering the comprehensive development of the isthmus, the Hay-Bunau Varilla treaty was signed 18 days after independence was declared, a treaty no Panamanian signed, since Phillipe Bunau Varilla was a partner of the French Canal who only intended to protect his interests. The terms were "in perpetuity."

From then on, a quarrel began against the treaty, especially because of the establishment of the Canal Zone, a 5-mile strip on both sides of the waterway, with its own government, prison structure, post office, shops, foreign to the Panamanians. The most egregious aspect was the control of the two main ports at the entrance to the Canal.
The dissatisfaction of the Panamanians grew as the years passed and it snapped in 1964 when a group of students crossed...

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