THURSDAY AUGUST 15 marked two important days in the history of Panama, the 494th anniversary of the founding of the city, and the 99th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.
Plans are already underway for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Canal opening, when the Panama Railway vessel SS Ancon made the first official transit between the two oceans.
The 1914 opening was overshadowed by the start of World War I which adds a prophetic dimension to an article that appeared in The Boston Transcript at that time.
THE PANAMA CANAL’S NAVAL SIGNIFICANCE.
So much have the commercial values and aspects of the Panama Canal absorbed the interest of Americans that it may seem to many of them its opening for business in the midst of a world shaking war partakes of the nature of an anachronism, even if the United States is not one of the belligerents. In reality there is a certain fitness in the realization of the dream of Balboa and the prediction of Goethe coming at this particular time. The canal is a great “short cut” open to the use of the world, but it is also a part of the scheme of the military defense of the United States. It doubles the mobility of both our land’ and seIa forces, and was built with this consideration in mind. No event in our history gave more impetus to the construction of the canal by the United States than the voyage of the Oregon around Cape Horn to join our fleet in the Caribbean. The necessity of sending a battleship over so many thousand miles of ocean impressed the nation with the importance of having at our command a short route between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The arguments of war and peace are both represented in the canal, built, owned and managed by the United States in its sovereign capacity.
THE FIRST 99 YEARS
On the 99th birthday, La Estrella, the country’s oldest newspaper, which recorded the building of the railroad and the Canal had this to say about Panama’s most important asset:
With a full head of steam the canal expansion a workforce of more than 10,000 people earlier this month posted a gain of more than 60% and should be finished in the first quarter of 2015 the Panama Canal begins today countdown to his hundredth birthday.
Just this week the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced it will invest in its fiscal year 2014, which runs from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014 - approximately $238 million in maintenance of structures and equipment, for the waterway that continues to provide an excellent service to the international maritime community, for the benefit of all Panama and Panamanians.
Exactly 99 years ago the oceanic route was opened to world trade with the passage of the SS Ancón' joining, via the narrowest part of the Isthmus, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and to shorten time and distance in maritime communication. With almost 100 years of operations, the Panama Canal is one of the main maritime trade routes connecting more than 144 routes, 1,700 ports and 160 countries. Its main-users are, in that order, the United States, China, Chile, Japan and South Korea.
Most of the traffic that crosses the canal runs between the Atlantic coast of the United States and the Far East, while traffic between Europe and the west coast of the United States and Canada is the second major trade route of the waterway. However, other regions and countries, in Central and South America, depend proportionally much more on this vital artery to promote their economic advancement and increase trade.
Some of the main products transiting the Canal are grain, container cargo, oil and derivatives.
According to official data, in fiscal year 2013, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) provided the National Treasury $960. 6 million, while in the previous year provided $ 1.032 billion.
Since 2000, the waterway has directly contributed $8.569. billion to the National Treasury and the contribution for 2014 is set at $966.3 million.
In 13 years of Panamanian administration, emonstrated performance indicates that Panamanians have demonstrated that they chose the appropriate management model for the benefit of the country and the world', said Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the ACP, Roberto Roy, commenting on the figures.
From 2015 the Panama Canal, with its third set of locks will be more competitive by allowing the transit of post panamax vessels, for the benefit and boosting world trade.
August 1914 – Opening of the Canal.
September 1977 – Omar Torrijos and President Jimmy Carter sign transfer agreement .
December 1999 – Transfer of the Canal and the creation of the Canal Authority.
September 2007 – President Martin Torrijos initiates the Canal Expansion project.
August 2013 – Start of the countdown to the 100th anniversary celebration