Foreign Policy Panama Canal Treaty Term Paper

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The Panama Canal Treaty along with the Treaty on the Permanent Neutrality of the canal, both affirmed that the United States would transfer control of the canal to Panama by the year 2000. After this Panama would keep the canal neutral, and both countries would be responsible for protecting it. With Vietnam a recent memory, Carter and Linowitz hoped their spirit of cooperation toward Panama could usher in a new era of international reason, respect, and peace. They may not have completely attained that lofty goal, but their dealings in Panama were successful. The final transfer of rule took place in 2000 as planned and without trouble. It went very smoothly since 96% of the canal's workers were already Panamanian and since 1990 the chief administrators have also been native-born. Even though it suffered during the recessions of 2001 and 2002, the Panama Canal continues to flourish and deliver its vital services. Panamanian President, Martin Torrijos, son of the former dictator, worked towards a multi-billion-dollar expansion to permit more and larger ships to pass through the isthmus. Under new management, the Panama Canal continues to function as a very important gateway connecting the oceans (Why Did We Give Away the Panama Canal, 2005).

6. What was the performance of governments who controlled the canal?

For almost forty years, the Panama Canal Zone functioned under various acts of Congress with executive management. In 1950, Congress passed the Thompson Act, which fashioned the Panama Canal Company, which was to be operated under the sponsorship of a board of directors. A governor of the Canal Zone, who was appointed by the U.S. president, watched the day-to-day operations of the zone and used revenues in order to make improvements and maintain the canal. Additionally, the U.S. military kept military bases in the Canal Zone in order to protect the site. During this period, Panamanian nationalists wanted for more useful terms than those in the 1903 treaty. A 1936 agreement increased the annuity paid by the U.S. government to Panamanians, and a 1942 treaty transferred various civil works projects to the Panamanian government and promised additional infrastructure development. Additional revisions occurred in the 1950s, including the flying of the Panamanian flag in the Canal Zone as the United States tried to address issues of sovereignty (Panama Canal, 2010).

While blaming the communists, most American policymakers could not ignore the animosity that provoked the confrontation. In the aftermath, the Chiari government and the Johnson administration opened negotiations to address Panama's grievances. Ultimately Washington agreed to terminate the 1903 treaty in return for granting U.S. control and operation of the canal until 1999. Despite strong public criticism, Johnson submitted the treaty to the Senate in 1967. It languished there as Johnson's attentions focused on Vietnam and internal events in Panama sabotaged acceptance. It would take another Democratic president, more than a decade later, to push through Johnson's original ideas. In 1999 control of the Panama Canal was officially given back to the nation of Panama (Panama Canal, 2010).

7. How is the current government's performance?

The Panama Canal Treaty, which went into effect in 1979, granted full control of the canal to Panama after a transition period of 20 years. On Dec. 31, 1999, the Panama Canal Authority assumed full control of the waterway. And although the Panama Canal Authority has managed the canal successfully since then, the waterway's age and its volume of traffic are starting to catch up to it. it's become somewhat of an international trade traffic jam, with fleets of ships waiting offshore to go through. Many vessels are also no longer built as Panamax ships, the maximum size the canal can accommodate. The owners of post-Panamax supertankers and naval ships find it more efficient to increase their loads and take alternate routes than wait in line at Panama (Dowdey, 2010).

Panamanians who depend on the canal for their country's livelihood can't afford to see it become obsolete. With Nicaragua planning its own canal and threatening the old monopoly, Panamanians enthusiastically voted in favor of a 2006 referendum in order to modernize the canal. The plan is to add an additional larger set of locks, and a third lane that will double the waterway's capacity. Some environmentalists, however, aren't too happy about the expansion plan. The canal's traffic, as well as the populations of Panama City and Colon, already takes a tremendous toll on the area's watershed which is an area filled with diverse wildlife and important to intercontinental migrations. But planners say that the new set of locks will use water-saving basins to conserve 60% of the water used on each transit. Reforestation of surrounding areas should also help keep the reservoirs flowing and traffic bustling (Dowdey, 2010). The controlling powers appear to be attempting to improve the Canal so that it is not only more efficient but so that it will continue to prosper and grow in the future.

8. Who is the one controlling the canal today?

The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. The Authority's responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the citizens of Panama. For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway, a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the ACP assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal as well as the protection and conservation of its watershed. In the past few years, the ACP has made significant strides, shifting to a market-oriented business model focused on customer service and reliability, making major capital investments for new and modern equipment and machinery, increasing safety and operational efficiency for customers, decreasing the time it takes ships to travel through the Canal and widening and deepening sections of the waterway. An important transportation link, the Canal services more than 140 different transportation routes from every corner, it is where major trading routes of the world connect and intersect providing safe, reliable and secure passage for all vessels (Panama Canal Authority, 2005).


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