Just this goy...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Similarly, the revisionists have been working over the History of Panama.

[[History of Panama]]
>U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt convinced U.S. Congress to take on the abandoned works in 1902, while Colombia was in the midst of the Thousand Days War. During the war there were at least three attempts by Panamanian Liberals to seize control of Panama and potentially achieve independence, including one led by Liberal guerrillas like Belisario Porras and Victoriano Lorenzo, each of which was suppressed by a collaboration of Conservative Colombian and U.S. forces. By the middle of 1903, the Colombian government in Bogotá had balked at the prospect of a U.S. controlled canal under the terms that Roosevelt's administration was offering. The U.S. was unwilling to alter its terms and quickly changed tactics, encouraging a handful of Conservative Panamanian landholding families to demand a Panama independent from Colombia. The USS Nashville was dispatched to local waters around the city of Colón to deter any resistance from Bogotà and so, on November 3, 1903, with United States' encouragement and French financial support, Panama proclaimed its independence. Less than three weeks later, the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty was signed between the French and the United States, without a Panamanian in the room. The treaty allowed for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land 10 miles wide and 50 miles long, (16 kilometers by 80 kilometers) on either side of the Panama Canal Zone. In that zone, the U.S. would build a canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it "in perpetuity." The Panama Canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914; the existing 83-kilometer (50-mi.) lock canal is considered one of the world's greatest engineering triumphs. On January 5, 1909 the government of Rafael Reyes in Colombia signed and presented to its Congress a treaty that would officially recognize the loss of its former province, but the matter was dropped due to popular and legislative opposition, without any ratification being achieved. Different negotiations continued intermittently until a new treaty was signed on December 21, 1921 which finally and formally accepted the independence of Panama.

What this paragraph, which is reasonably accurate in its particulars, fails to point out is that Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla was a Frenchman who had drafted the Panamanian constitution, financed the revolution of Panama from Colombia, and was the Panamanian Ambassador to the United States. He was the "Panamanian in the room."

Putting the U.S.A.'s position in this manner is also extremely misleading. Another way to view events is: "During the 3 years of the Thousand Days War, the United States supported the Columbian government's suppression of at least three uprisings within Panama despite the Columbian Senate's unwillingness to negotiate acceptable terms for the United States' desire to acquire the interests of the New Panama Canal Company. Being assured of favourable terms in exchange for support of the fledgling Republic, the U.S.A. sent a single ship to Colón to deter Columbian retaliations against the nascent merchant oligarchy, assuring its success."

This does not change the fact the USA gained an unfairly favourable arrangement with Panama in exchange for their freedom from Columbia, or that it was morally suspect behaviour (and clearly the USA knew this, as it had not done so for the previous 3 uprisings.) But it does not imply the USA acted against the Panamanians of the time, which it did not do.

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