Kapoors Year 7: Europe/Ecuador/Peru travel blog

When We Read That There Was A Restored Train That Travelled From...

The Souvenir T-Shirts Were Terrific, Though I Couldn't Persuade Anil To Wear...

We Spent The Day With New Friends From Oregon, They Were Guests...

Even The Coffee Cups Were Attractive, Too Bad They Weren't Durable Ones

The Dome Car Gave Us A Great View Of The Overhanging Jungle...

As We Approached The Atlantic Port At Colon, We Could See Massive...

It's A Very Busy Port, Not All Ships Pass Through The Canal...

This Is Pretty Much What We Saw Out The Windows As We...

Rudy Had Dropped Us At The Train Station, But Was Waiting With...

As We Left Colon We Passed The Mt. Hope Cemetery Where Victims...

It's Clear That It Wasn't Just The Workers On The Canal That...

The Former Colonial Hospital Has Been Converted Into A Prison Overlooking The...

The Cloudy Skies Give The Impression Of Cool Weather, However It Was...

The Gatun Locks Were Even More Impressive That Those At Miraflores and...

Ships Entering From The Pacific Must Pass Through Three Separate Locks To...

The Massive Lock Gates Were Once Operated By Equally Massive Wheels, Now...

A Tiny Bridge Allows Light Vehicle Traffic To Cross Directly In Front...

We Crossed That Little Bridge In Order To Visit The Dam That...

After Visiting The Locks We Travelled Parallel To The Charges River To...

The Spanish Conquistadors Used This River To Transport Vast Quantities Of Gold...

The Gold Was Stored In The Fort Awaiting Shipment To Spain, Guarded...

Here You See An Ariel Photo Of Fort San Lorenzo, An Its...

As We Left The Fort, Rudy Spotted A Sloth And Her Baby...


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BACKGROUND

To make my writing go a little easier, I have copied some excerpts from the History chapter of the Lonely Planet – Panamá:

Panama’s future forever changed from the moment that the world’s major powers learned that the isthmus of Panama was the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In 1846 Colombia signed a treaty permitting the US to construct a railway across the isthmus, though it also granted them free transit and the right to protect the railway with military force.

At the height of the California gold rush in 1849, tens of thousands of people traveled from the east coast of the US to the west coast via Panama in order to avoid hostile Native Americans living in the central states. Colombia and Panama grew wealthy from the railway, and the first talks of an interoceanic canal across Central America began to surface.

The idea of a canal across the isthmus was first raised in 1524 when King Charles V of Spain ordered that a survey be undertaken to determine the feasibility of constructing such a waterway. In 1878, however, it was the French who received a contract from Colombia to build a canal.

Still basking in the warm glory of the recently constructed Suez Canal, French builder Ferdinand-Marie de Lesseps brought his crew to Panama in 1881. Much like Napoleon before him, Lesseps severely underestimated the task at hand, and over 22,000 workers died from yellow fever and malaria in less than a decade. By 1889, insurmountable construction problems and financial mismanagement had driven the company bankrupt.

The US, always keen to look after its investments, saw the French failure as a lucrative business opportunity that was ripe for the taking. Although they had previously been scouting locations for a canal in Nicaragua, the US pressured the French to sell them their concessions. In 1903 Lesseps’ chief engineer, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, agreed to the sale, though the Colombian government promptly refused.

In what would be the first of a series of American interventions in Panama, Bunau-Varilla approached the US government to back Panama if it declared its independence from Colombia. On November 3, 1903, a revolutionary junta declared Panama independent, and the US government immediately recognized the sovereignty of the country.

Although Columbia sent troops by sea to try to regain control of the province, US battleships prevented them from reaching land. Columbia did not recognize Panama as a legitimately separate nation until 1921, when the US paid Columbia US$25 million in ‘compensation’.

KAPOORS ON THE ROAD

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