Panama today is best known for its economic boom, and rightly so. But unfortunately, poverty and piracy remain as much a part of the country's image as the Panama Canal.
According to the World Bank, half of Panama’s children are poor. A fifth of them are malnourished. Those underfed kids cram Panama charity centers like Nutre Hogar. On a recent visit there I saw the devastating effects of child malnutrition, including brain damage.
“We don’t only feed them,” one Nutre Hogar staff member told me. “We spend a lot of time repairing their motor skills.”
PortMiami is set to open its new, billion-dollar tunnel next week. It’s the jewel of a $2 billion port makeover, which includes a major dredging project and skyscraper-size loading cranes for sending a lot more auto parts to Brazil and getting a lot more handbags from China.
But the long-term success of that effort may depend to a large extent on whether a quarrel gets solved a thousand miles to the south. In Panama.
Jorge Quijano has one of the coolest office views in the Americas: the Pacific port entrance to the Panama Canal. The panoramic vista seems to help Quijano, who heads the Panama Canal Authority, see the bigger picture.
On the one hand, Quijano understands why Panama has run the canal much more effectively than the United States did.
The Panama Canal is expanding, but is Panama's democracy shrinking? The country is holding a presidential election on Sunday, May 4 -- and there are growing concerns that right-wing President Martinelli is trying an end run around the constitution.
Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 11:57 am
The crew of a North Korean ship carrying a clandestine cargo of Cold War-era weapons from Cuba has been charged with endangering public security by Panamanian authorities, who seized the vessel earlier this week.
The North Korean vessel en route from Cuba was seized as it attempted to transit the Panama Canal.
A statement from Cuba's foreign ministry says weapons that Panama seized in a North Korean ship were mid-20th Century models that Cuba was sending to North Korea for repair, according to reports from the BBC and Reuters.