Panama. On November 7, the United Nations General Assembly elected Panama in the Security Council as representative of Latin America and the Caribbean following a lengthy voting process. Only after three weeks and 47 rounds of voting were the countries of the region able to unite around Panama after Venezuela and Guatemala withdrew. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Panama include Independence Day (November 3) and New Year (January 1). President Martín Torrijos has tried to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy against both the US, Cuba and Venezuela to achieve his goal.
After six years of preparation, on October 22, a referendum was held on the government’s proposal to expand the Panama Canal. Jasidan won with 78% of the vote. However, participation was very low, only 44%, despite the fact that the project was considered crucial to Panama’s economic development. The opposition opposed the proposal because of the high cost. The expansion, which is estimated to cost just over $ 5 billion, is planned to be completed by the channel’s 100th anniversary in 2014.
In March 1997, the government cut prices on a number of products such as school books, milk, gas, sugar and frozen medicine. The move was aimed at preventing unrestrained price increases that had been criticized by the country’s Competition Council.
After 80 years in the country, the United States Southern Command was moved back to the United States in September. For decades, the military administration had served as an educational institution for Latin American military dictators and officers. The Panama government declared that transferring the administration of the canal to Panama would not change its function. Furthermore, the building of a 3rd sluice system was planned at the beginning of the new millennium – due to the increasing traffic and the size of the ships.
Balladares tried to amend the constitution in a referendum so that he could be re-elected as president, but this failed. The two main candidates for the May 1999 presidential election were therefore Arnulfo Arias’ widow, Mireya Moscoso and General Omar Torrijo’s son, Martín Torrijos. The election was won by Moscoso, whose election program was the same as her opponent’s: fighting corruption and preventing political interference in the administration of the canal, as well as ensuring that both workers and brokers are involved in all decisions around the canal zone.
On December 14, 99, the ceremony where the control of the canal was transferred to Panama. Moscoso and former US President Jimmy Carter put their names on the papers that ratified the handover. It was Carter who signed the documents in 1977 with Panama’s Omar Torrijos on the transfer of the channel in 1999. Carter stated that it was “one of the most important events in the hemisphere” and that Panama had the opportunity to “develop into Singapore’s region ‘, if it consistently develops its trade based on the channel, the free zone in Colon and the country’s financial center, the center of 120 international banks.
Moscoso stated that during the first years of the new millennium, Panama will invest $ 1 billion. US $ on the building of the so-called Corte Culebra shortcut in the Panama Canal and the purchase of equipment, but at the same time foreign assistance is needed for the construction of the 3rd set of channel locks.
In November 2000, the government decided not to grant political asylum to former Peruvian intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who had been a central adviser to the ousted president, Alberto Fujimori. In Peru, Montesinos was charged with serious human rights violations. Panama was already accused by a number of human rights organizations of granting asylum to 2 prominent Haitian military people who have been in Panama since 1994, but were charged with serious human rights violations.