Panama's Canal: What Happens When the United States Gives a Small Country What It Wants

In This Review

Panama's Canal: What Happens When the United States Gives a Small Country What It Wants

By Mark Falcoff
AEI Press, 1998
162 pp. $29.95
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Falcoff, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, deploys to excellent effect his formidable literary and polemical skills and does not hesitate to use unflattering adjectives to dispel political obfuscation. He describes in considerable detail the large tasks Panama will face over the two years remaining before the Panama Canal passes into its ownership under the 1977 treaties, including replacing the income from U.S. bases with well-paying jobs, disposing of billions of dollars worth of property in an orderly manner, reversing the negative ecological trends in the Chagres River basin, and maintaining the canal at peak efficiency while setting aside large sums for capital improvements -- as well as retaining the confidence of foreign investors and addressing economic reform and privatization. But the central concern is how well Panama will be able to live "without the United States as a stopgap and a scapegoat" and to dampen popular expectations that the "reverted areas" will be a pi–ata of patronage.