Building on the US Legacy

Feb 1, 2002

Panama has not found it as easy as it had hoped to attract investment into areas once occupied by American troops. Development of the reverted areas has been plagued by false starts and delays.

An atmosphere of ordered calm still pervades many of the neatly built and carefully landscaped housing estates and military facilities that are the legacy of the long US presence in Panama. The manicured gentility of these Canal Zone areas was always in stark contrast to the typically tropical disorder in the 'other Panama,' which could be as close as just across the road.

When the US pulled out of Panama in 1999, the opportunity to integrate the Canal Zone and its infrastructure into the development of the nation presented itself as a historic opportunity.

Yet capitalizing fully on these so-called 'reverted areas' has proved to be more of a struggle than Panama was expecting. Of all the assets set be the cornerstones of the country's economic development over the next decades, few have aroused such controversy.

While some of the reverted areas have been successfully developed, time has been...

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