Friday, February 16, 2007

Birth of a Nation - Panama in 67 Hours

(MFL notes: Source: Bernard A Weisberger, "Panama, Made in U.S.A", AMerican Heritage November 1989, pp 24-25; and "Canal Control," Latin Trade, September 1997, p. 20)

The Stage is Set

June 1902: U.S. offers to buy Panama Canal Zone from Colombia for 10 million dollars.

August 1903: The Colombian Senate refuses the offer. Theodore Roosevelt, angry on hearing of the refusal, is alleged to have referred to the Colombian Senate as “those contemptible little creatures in Bogota.” Roosevelt agrees to a plot led by Dr. Manuel Amador, a secessionist, “to assist a group to secede from Colombia.

October 17: Panamanian dissidents travel to Washington and agree to stage a U.S. – backed revolution. Date of the revolution set for November 3 at 6 P.M.

October 18: Flag, constitution, and declaration of independence, created over the weekend. Panama’s first flag was designed and sewn by hand in Highland Falls, New York, using fabric bought at Macy’s.

Bunau-Varilla, a French engineer associated with the bankrupt French-Panama canal construction company and who had no permanent residence in Panama, was named Panama’s ambassador to the United States.

A Country is Born

Tuesday, November 3: Precisely at 6 P.M. bribes are paid to the Colombian garrison to lay down their arms. The revolution begins, the U.S.S. Nashville steams intoColon harbor, and the junta proclaims Panama’s independence.

Friday, November 6: By 1:00 PM, the United States recognizes the sovereign state of Panama.

Saturday, November 7: The new government sends official delegation from Panama to the United States to instruct the Panamanian ambassador to the United States on provisions of the Panama Canal Treaty.

Wednesday, November 18: 6:40 PM. The Panamanian ambassador signs the Panama Canal Treaty. At 11:30 PM, the official Panamanian delegation arrives at Washington, D.C., railroad station and is met by their ambassador, who informs them that the treaty was just signed just couple of hours earlier.

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