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Old 30-08-2013, 15:44   #16
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

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Originally Posted by svmariane View Post
Bah, humbug. Here's some quick info easily available to anyone doing a bit of research...

The United States used military force and the threat of military force against Colombia (to detach Panama from Colombia) and against the new Panamanian government (to get a better deal for the Panama Canal).

American warships prevented Colombia from responding to Panama's declaration of independence. The new government then appointed the head counsel of the French company as their foreign minister. The minister drafted a treaty that gave Panama a far lower share of the canal revenues than the United States. When the new government balked at the treaty, Secretary of State John Hay warned of "grave consequences" and threatened to send the Marines. The Panamanians soon capitulated.

The Panama Canal had become a fiscal drain by 1970. The canal was squeezed by rising costs due to American mismanagement. The result was that American aid transfers to Panama soon began to overshadow the revenues from the canal.

President Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said it best when asked by Congress what would happen if a future Panamanian government shut down the Panama Canal "for repairs." He responded, "In that case, according to the provisions of the Neutrality Treaty, we will move in and close down the Panamanian government for repairs."

The US invested in Panama, made profits, then when profits dropped divested itself. Capitalism at work.
Yea, yea, but what if necessary and critical passages, like Carnival Cruise Line experience the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, are costly now? It might mean the cruise line has to cut back on the free buffet during transit days. This is stuff should be an inalienable right.
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Old 30-08-2013, 16:53   #17
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

"The US invested in Panama, made profits, then when profits dropped divested itself. Capitalism at work."
I'm not sure capitalism ever had anything to do with the canal operation. When I worked in the Canal Zone back in the 70s (during the Carter administration negotiation with the Torrijos Gov't), the Canal Zone was a military-administered area. The Governor of the Canal Zone was an Army General with two Air Force Bases (Albrook and Howard) and numerous Army Installations including Quarry Heights the HQ of the Southern Command. The Canal Zone itself was a company town, with the company being the US Gov't. To the best of my knowledge the canal was never managed to produce a profit for the US Gov't, but as a strategic military resource.

"how could anyone be that dumb and thoughtless regarding the thousands of Americans who died during the construction."
A number of American citizens did die in the canal construction, but most of the deaths were among the laborers imported from Caribbean islands, primarily Barbados. Maybe we should have given the canal to Barbados rather than Panama. The decedents of these laborers make up most of the (very poor) black population of Panama.

The only honest assessment I've heard of the canal was attributed to Reagon, "We stole it fair and square". Of course he probably didn't really say that, but if not he should have.

John
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Old 30-08-2013, 18:54   #18
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

It was Senator Hayakawa who said we stole it fair and square.
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Old 31-08-2013, 08:41   #19
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

I'll give you 20-1 odds, it's not built in the next 20yrs. Just not enough economic need. Then there will be ecological fights. If the USA doesn't have a good means to take charge of it for military purposes, they will make sure it doesn't happen. Way too many complications.

Even if it is built, the last thing they will be concerned with is driving down the cost of pleasure boats using it (quarter million per ship vs $1-4k per pleasure boat)
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Old 31-08-2013, 13:56   #20
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

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Originally Posted by jstevens View Post
"The US invested in Panama, made profits, then when profits dropped divested itself. Capitalism at work."
I'm not sure capitalism ever had anything to do with the canal operation. To the best of my knowledge the canal was never managed to produce a profit for the US Gov't, but as a strategic military resource.

John
Respectfully beg to differ.

Consider shipments of goods east/west across the USA and from/to Asia from US east coast. Expensive and slow. Canal was better. Commercial usage and capitalism. I agree that canal operations were not run on a maximizing profits basis, but US corporations could sell goods at a lower price due to lower (than could have been) canal costs. What was that expression... The business of the USA is business... Then along came Eisenhower and voila - US Interstate highway system made in-country transport cheaper than through the canal. (Yes - I'm collapsing history there. Took years to build the interstate system.)

I rcv'd this PM from another Cf user after my long post up there: "Thanks for injecting a little reality. USMC Gen. (ret.) Smedley Butler explained Central American politics in his book \"War is a racket\" in 1932. He fought the corporate wars for coca cola and dole fruit."

The canal as military resource... Well, yes, for a while. I've read that the US military pretty much discounted the canal by the early 1940s. The thought being that 100 men could attack and damage just one lock (set?) and shut down the canal for months. During WW II, for Pacific ops most men and goods traveled west across the US by rail. After that, one of the biggest reasons for the US maintaining a two-ocean navy through the years was the acknowledgement that the Soviets could (probably) take out the canal from the air - no boots needed on the ground.

You were there. Was it a viable fear about 100-odd men being able to take out a set of locks? (Guess I'm thinking trained combat/demo troops, not insurgents, and obviously in a well-coordinated sneak attack).

Please disabuse me if my historical understanding is incorrect because hey - I'm certainly not a history Professor!
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Old 31-08-2013, 14:48   #21
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

"You were there. Was it a viable fear about 100-odd men being able to take out a set of locks? (Guess I'm thinking trained combat/demo troops, not insurgents, and obviously in a well-coordinated sneak attack)."

Certainly is was major concern, not 100 men but just one. I took a diving lesson in the canal at the base of dam next to the Gatun Locks. There was no security at the dam. It seemed that a high explosive could take out the dam and drain Lake Gatun. I think I read that it would take 5 years or more to re-fill the lake with rain water.

The existing canal operation drains the lake of 1,000s of gallons with every lock opening at Miraflores and Gatun. The canal operation depends on the rainy season (May-Nov) to refill the lake. I remember the lake level dropping by several feet during the dry season, which is a lot of water. At the time Lake Gatun was created it was the largest man-made lake in the world. It is also a recreational paradise. Here's a picture of me water skiing in Lake Gatun in 1974.

My understanding is that the construction of the3rd lock at Miraflores and Gatun will add a system to recover much of the lock water back into the lake.

John
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Old 01-09-2013, 13:45   #22
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Jimmy Carter really messed up by giving back the Panama canal. The second worst president ever.

When my wife and I passed through the locks a couple of years ago, I thought out loud... "how could anyone be that dumb and thoughtless regarding the thousands of Americans who died during the construction." The French had even larger casualty numbers before they gave up.

Carter just gave it to Panama, which wasn't even a country when the canal was constructed. Here you go... it's free. And now we have the high cost to pass through. The cruise ship we were on paid over $375,000 to pass through.... over $125 per passenger.
Do your homework, Carter did not just "give it away"...he actually honored an agreement...what a concept.
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Old 01-09-2013, 14:00   #23
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Re taking out Gatun Dam...we spent a few days on the Chagres river this cruising season and dinghy'ed up stream near the dam. Visible security was not obvious...dont know if any non-obvious security was in place. People are boating and fishing near the dam...so sure did not look like it would be tough to do.
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Old 01-09-2013, 14:14   #24
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Re: Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

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I think it would be a wonderful project if it goes ahead.
Competition is great for pushing prices down.
The USA will benifit from lower cost of imports, and exports for the East Coast.

Better for everyone in the world.
Did you read the article the OP linked? The likely route will go through Lake Nicaragua, the larges source of fresh water in the country. The possible environmental impact could easily turn out to be disastrous for Nicaraguans.

If I were a Nicaraguan, I would be screaming bloody murder about this plan.
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