The U.S. Interest In The Panama Canal

1124 words - 4 pages

Why do you think the United States (U.S.) became involved with Latin America? If you said, it was because we wanted something, you are right. Throughout history we have always wanted something from somebody and as customary, we get it. In the case of Latin America, we were in need of a more logical passage from coast to coast. The perfect solution was, the Panama Canal. We knew what we needed, so we did everything in our power to get it. President Roosevelt didn't care how it happened or at what cost as long as it was ours. Once we took control of the canal we would not relinquish it. It wasn't until 1999 when we finally gave them back their land. Yet, today they are still paying for our involvement in the canal.

The U.S. needed an easier way to get to and from the east and west coasts. Back in the 1890's the original site for the canal was Nicaragua. However, this idea was quickly rejected and any plans for a new site were put on hold. "Back in 1878 Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French engineer who built the Suez Canal, received the rights to build a canal in Panama, which was then part of Colombia." (Buschini, J.). Work on the canal commenced in 1881, but by 1889 tropical disease, engineering problems and financial mismanagement brought all construction to a halt.

After the Spanish-American War in 1898 the U.S. had a physical desire for the canal. We now needed a faster way for our navy to access the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. So in "1902 - 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt decided that we needed the Panama Canal and tried to negotiate a treaty with Colombia." (Encarta) Unfortunately, for them, the Colombian government would reject all our offers.

Panamanians were afraid that we would build the canal in Nicaragua, so they decide to rebel against Colombian and declare their independence. Some say that we initiated the rebellion in order to get what we wanted, and I tend to believe them. Theodore Roosevelt himself said "I simply lifted my foot. I took the Isthmus, started the Canal. (Huberman)

On November 3, 1903, with the guidance (force) from the U.S, the Panamanians received their independence. Within weeks they gave the U.S. permission to build the canal. Philippe Bunau-Varilla, a longtime official of the French canal company would negotiate the terms. (Encarta) The U.S. received more than it had asked for: a perpetual lease on a section where the canal would be built; the right to take over more land if needed; and the right to use troops to intervene in Panama. We also agreed to guarantee their independence, pay $10 million, and pay an annual fee of $250,000. In exchange for their independence, then, Panamanians were forced to accept the treaty, which no Panamanian ever signed, that virtually gave away the Canal Zone to the U.S. (Cruises) We stole it right out from under them.

After 34 years and the excavation of 250 million cubic yards of earth and rock, on August 15, 1914 the Canal was officially opened. At...

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