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John

Is that Manuel Noriega in the middle there, between Carter and Torrijos?

Also, why was the "Commander of the National Guard" signing treaties? Why even bother having a civilian president if Torrijos was doing things like that?

FDChief

I was in-country between 1986 and 1988, and the squealing of the "Zonians" could still be heard from space; the Canal Zone had been a Yanqui paradise for a certain type of Yanqui - no or low taxes and cheap or free land, cheap Panamanian help, lots of lovely goodies at the PX and commissary and Class VI store - so a crap-ton of these characters retired there on fat federal pensions. Think Trumpkins with an extra helping of good old-fashioned American imperial attitude.

They had lived like tropic kings in the Canal Zone (and, not coincidentally, had lorded it over the Panamanians - almost every resident of Panama (and if you said "Panama" you meant the city; "pais" was the nation of Panama, which gives you an idea of how important the Big Apple was) over ten years old would tell you stories about the Zoneian coppers, US retirees supposedly selected for their bad attitudes and loathing of the natives. One huge reason Torrijos picked the Canal as the big issue to take his country's mind of his crappy dictatorship was that it WAS a national issue; the Zone was a giant middle finger to Panama and the people of Panama and they knew it.

Anyway, the Zonie jokers were convinced that when the locals took over; "they'll run the Canal downhill...it'll be broke in five years!". You'd hear that or some variation of it at Soloy's Balseria and the VFW and the various service clubs where these guys would hang out. That - that the Panamanians were a sort of slightly-evolved monkey that lacked the technical know-how to run the Canal - was one of the big hammers that the "conservatives" liked to swing at the idea of returning the Canal (and the Zone) to Panama.

So imagine their surprise and fury that the Panamanian employees of the PCC (The Panama Canal Commission that runs the thing) - who had been actually running it for years under Yanqui "supervision" - turned out to be perfectly competent to run and and did.

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