Authorities in Panama Deny That the Canal Is Controlled by China, as Trump Claimed

    Panama and China established diplomatic relations in 2017, to the detriment of Taiwan

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    Former US President Donald Trump (2017-2021) assured that the Panama Canal “is controlled by China”, which was rejected this Thursday by analysts in the Central American country, who saw this statement as an expression of ignorance of the American politician.

    The main Panamanian media published or reproduced this Thursday part of an interview published on Wednesday on the social network X (formerly Twitter) in which Trump, 77, complained again that the United States built the Canal at the beginning of the century. In the past, he sold it, according to him, “for a dollar” to Panama in 1999, and that the road is now “controlled by China.”

    Even the Panamanian star and activist Rubén Blades quoted an excerpt from Trump’s interview in his X account: “…we cannot allow (the Chinese) to ruin the Panama Canal. We built the Panama Canal, they should never have given it to Panama.”

    Trump is the overwhelming favorite in next year’s Republican primary and faces criminal prosecution for allegedly trying to reverse the results of the 2020 election that brought his successor, Democrat Joe Biden, to power.

    A comment denoting “ignorance”

    Several political commentators rejected the statements of the former Republican president in the morning news gatherings. No Panamanian authority had referred to the issue this Thursday. Trump’s “was an unfortunate comment, which denotes bad faith and ignorance,” economist and university professor Felipe Argote said.

    “We Panamanians actually manage the Canal, and we do it much more efficiently than when it was managed by the American Army. It is shameful that a former president of the United States reflects so much ignorance,” he added.

    In 85 years of US operation (1914-1999), Panama received just over 1,500 million dollars from the Canal, which in the hands of the Panamanian State has contributed more than 20,000 million to the treasury.

    For Carlos Guevara-Mann, director of the graduate program in International Affairs at Florida State University (FSU) in Panama, “former President Trump’s assertions are somewhat exaggerated, but they point to a real fact, which is the growing Chinese influence in Panama, which is a danger to the country.”

    “Panamanians have struggled for generations to operate the waterway and receive its adjacent areas. The Chinese Communist Party is trying to gain control of a route through the Central American isthmus and has been eyeing the Panama Canal for a while,” he added.

    It’s not the first time

    It is not the first time that Trump has spoken about the Panama Canal and regrets that it was transferred to the Panamanian State on December 31, 1999, as established in the agreements signed in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) and the Panamanian de facto ruler Omar Torrijos (1968-1981).

    In March 2011, when the first hotel for the Trump organization outside the United States was being built in the Central American country, the tycoon declared that his country “stupidly” gave Panama the Canal “in exchange for nothing.”For these statements, made on US television, the Municipal Council of the Panamanian capital declared Trump persona “non grata.”

    Trump inaugurated the lavish Trump Ocean Club in Panama in July 2011, an impressive building in the shape of an unfolded sail, with 70 floors and 250,000 square meters of construction, on an afternoon marked by a heavy downpour that completely flooded the area and left trapped in their luxury cars to many guests, including the tycoon.A few years later and after a legal battle, the hotel passed into other hands and since 2018 it is a JW Marriott.

    In November 2017, a report by the Global Witness organization denounced that the construction of the Trump Ocean Club was used to allegedly launder money from drugs and Russian mafias, and that Trump would have benefited from it.
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