How Panama Happened
by Revilo P. Oliver
AS I WRITE, it is not yet apparent why the government in Washington invaded Panama after the officer of the Israeli army who was in charge had secretly returned home, leaving his stooge, the duly elected President, a mongrel named Noriega, to be captured by the invaders.
The surprise attack on the Panamanians was, needless to say, in violation of international law, which the United States has flouted ever since it became a Jewish colony. It was an unprovoked and, by surprise, treacherous attack on what was officially regarded as an independent country, one to which traitors in the den of thieves called the Congress had given our Panama Canal further to cripple the United States.
Some Americans may have been relieved that the mongrel and bisexual rabble now called our army was still able to occupy a comic-opera country. The press particularly noticed the heroism of an Amazon, said to be a hybrid, who valiantly led her detachment in an assault on a dog kennel and made the dogs surrender by wagging their tails.
The public is fed some verbiage about a wish to abate the international traffic in cocaine, but that is obviously hogwash. The puzzled Noriega was brought to the United States to be brought before an American court, in open disregard of both international and American law, unless the latter be formally redefined as whatever our Yiddish masters want. What effect that is intended to have, and how Noriega is to be prevented from telling what he learned while he was cooperating with Reagan and Bush, are still unresolved questions as I write.
It occurs to me, however, that my readers may be interested in an account of how it happened that there was a República de Panamá for Bush to invade and conquer.
The Isthmus of Panama is the narrowest body of land separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the utility of connecting the two oceans by a canal was naturally perceived by intelligent Europeans soon after the region came under civilized control. So far as is known, the first formal project was submitted and advocated by the Portuguese explorer, colonial governor, and historian, Antonio Galvão, whose Tratado was posthumously published in 1550. This inspired the distinguished Spanish writer, Lopez de Gómara, to urge on the Spanish government the immediate construction of the proposed canal. He was ignored.
There was much talk and many projects during the three following centuries, but nothing was done until 1879, when the famous French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps, having completed the Suez Canal in 1869, naturally sought an opportunity for another spectacular feat of engineering. He became president of a French corporation organized to construct a canal parallel to the American-owned railroad across the Isthmus of Panama, which was then in the territory of the United States of Columbia.
It is true that unanticipated difficulties were encountered, ranging from the torrential floods of the Chagres River to yellow fever, endemic in the region. These, however, were trifles in comparison with the fact that M. de Lesseps was being used as a figure-head by a scabrous gang of French politicians and international financiers. Only a tiny fraction of the capital raised was available for construction of the canal. The sober Encyclopaedia Britannica summarized the operations of the Panama Canal Company as “characterized by a degree of corruption and extravagance rarely, if ever, equalled in the history of the world.”
When the inevitable crash finally came and it was found that $240,000,000 of the stockholders’ money had simply vanished (1), an attempt was made to place the blame entirely on the old engineer, who was then eighty-four and evidently had not suspected the character of his associates, the chief of whom were French only in the sense that they had taken up residence in France.
(1. These figures are in terms of the dollars of that time; multiply by sixty to obtain the approximate equivalent in the dollars now printed by the Federal Reserve.)
The attempt was not entirely successful. De Lesseps died a poor and broken man, but some part of the truth was disclosed in the great “Panama Scandal,” which was precipitated partly by the efforts of Édouard Drumont, the courageous author of La France juive, and partly by the enthusiasm of a group of young Frenchmen who were trying to hunt down the persons whom they regarded as responsible for the disgrace and suicide of General Boulanger. Readers of modern French literature will remember something of the atmosphere of those days from the pages of Maurice Barrès’s Leur figures, although they may overlook the contribution made by Drumont.
A New Panama Canal Company was organized, partly to cover up the scandal and partly, it seems, with some intention of completing construction of the canal. Work was resumed, perhaps in earnest, in 1895, but was halted for reasons that may never be satisfactorily ascertained, since the company’s books and archives were prudently burned before it was liquidated.
Another generation of hopeful (and perhaps patriotic) investors had been ruined, and were glad to dispose of their now worthless stock at any price. A syndicate of the international pirates, euphemistically called financiers, quietly bought up the cheap paper and thus became owners of a corporation whose only asset, aside from an option to buy stock in the American railroad and some rusting machinery through which the vegetation of the encompassing jungle was already growing, was a concession granted by the United States of Columbia, which no longer existed, since it had been dissolved by one of the frequent civil wars and replaced by the Republic of Columbia. Some of the pirates established residence in the United States to carry out a plan to sell the dubious assets to the American people.
The United States, in the meantime, had come to realize that a canal between the Atlantic and the Pacific was indispensable to the nation’s security as well as prosperity. The most feasible route, as determined by successive teams of competent engineers, was through Nicaragua, where an American corporation had begun construction. In 1902 the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 309 to 2, a bill appropriating money for the completion of the canal under a treaty that had been negotiated with Nicaragua.
The international predators were naturally alarmed by the danger that American interests might be thought paramount in the United States, and hired a prominent (and eventually very wealthy) American attorney, William Nelson Cromwell, to distribute arguments and cash to convince Congressmen that the route through the Isthmus of Panama was ever so much better. The arguments were specious but the cash was real, and Cromwell was able to block construction of the canal in Nicaragua.
President Theodore Roosevelt is not known to have received any of the cash, and his brother-in-law seems to have received only $200,000 when the gravy was ladled out. It seems likely, therefore, that only political pressures, exerted indirectly by the financial brigands, induced him to use his authority and influence to make the United States purchase the “rights” of the nominally French company for $40,000,000, (2) which, although naturally less than was first asked, yielded a very lavish profit to Isaac and Jesse Seligman, and other principal promoters, some of whom hid under cover names. (3) The exact distribution of the loot is uncertain, for after the United States purchased all the property of the Canal Company, specifically including its archives, the archives and all other records were circumspectly reduced to ashes and smoke.
(2. Remember to make the computation suggested in the foregoing footnote.)
(3. So far as is known, only small cuts went to J.P. Morgan, who seems to have been a business agent for the Rothschilds, and to Paul Warburg, who had been sent to the United States to put over the Federal Reserve system of organized plunder and to make other preparations for the First World War.)
Then it was discovered — surprise! surprise! — that the Canal Company’s only real asset, the concession from the defunct United States of Columbia, was worthless, and that a treaty with the existing government of Columbia would have to be negotiated. It was, but the Columbian Senate refused to ratify it, ostensibly on the grounds that the constitution forbade alienation of sovereignty over any of the nation’s territory — although “constitutionality” meant no more in Columbia then that it does in the United States today. The real motive was an expectation that an additional $10,000,000 could be extracted from rich old Uncle Sap, plus, no doubt, a hope that the old duffer could be bluffed into agreeing to some scheme of joint sovereignty over the Canal Zone, which would, of course, provide an opportunity for perpetual blackmail and periodic rake-offs.
The impasse thus created was expeditiously solved by the American government. (4)
(4. The sordid story is told completely by Earl Harding, a journalist of the old and now forgotten school that believed in ascertaining facts and telling the truth. He devoted a good part of his life to investigation and research, obtained access to various confidential memoranda and orders the conspirators thought destroyed, and published the final report of his findings in The Untold Story of Panama (New York, Athene Press, 1959). Almost all of my summary here depends on his exemplary work.)
There was in the city of Panamá (on the Pacific side of the Isthmus) a Columbian physician, Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, who was employed by the Panama Railroad to give medical attention to its workmen. He was a White man of Spanish descent, and that conveyed social status in a region in which 90% of the population was composed of mestizos, sambos, negroes, and Indians. Although almost entirely dependent on his salary from the Railroad, Dr. Amador somehow managed to send his favorite son, Raoul, to the United States, where he was graduated from the medical school of Columbia University.
Raoul was commissioned as an assistant surgeon in the United States Army, but he had his eye on higher things. He was tall, handsome, with dark, expressive eyes, cultivated manners, and an engaging personality — and he was living in an era in which every American female had an abiding faith that speakers of Romance languages were therefore Romantic. It was easy for Raoul to work his way up to the bottom of New York’s Upper Crust, and there he wooed and married money with such success that at one time he had a wife and two children installed in a very comfortable house at 216 West 112th Street, and another wife with one child conveniently ensconced in another house at 306 West 87th Street, thus obviating long journeys from one tender domesticity to the other. Whether the ladies were then aware of their unofficial partnership in Romantic Raoul is not entirely clear, but eventually wife No. 2 sued him for $100,000 and thus, although appeased with a cash settlement, interrupted what would doubtless have been a brilliant diplomatic career. But that came later, and the facts are mentioned here only to show that Raoul was an adroit, vigorous, and enterprising young man, who probably did much more than serve as a mere go-between making arrangements with his father.
There must have been some negotiations before the father received a cablegram which he could display to his acquaintance and the Columbian governor as proof that he was hastening to the bedside of his beloved and desperately ill son.
In New York, Dr. Amador was coached by officials of the Canal Company and his employers in the Panama Railroad, and given a secret midnight interview with Theodore Roosevelt in Washington. He was instructed to hold a revolution in the Isthmus of Panama on 3 November 1903 — a date chosen because it would be election day in the United States and the newspapers would be filled with news that would crowd out any indiscreet despatches that might come from an obscure corner of the Republic of Columbia. He was supplied with a flag suitable for the “Republic of the Isthmus,” which his revolution was to establish, and provided with funds to stimulate an itch for independence in a suitable number of fellow patriots.
The plan for this model revolution, as approved by Theodore Roosevelt, was a sound one. Ardent Love of Liberty was to be ignited only in a strip of territory roughly corresponding to the Canal Zone that has now been given away. This would necessarily be occupied by the Americans when they began construction of the canal, and the ephemeral Republic of the Isthmus could be quietly absorbed without fuss or publicity. Unfortunately for us, Dr. Amador bungled the job and exceeded his instructions.
With seven associates, all connected in one way or another with the Panama Railroad, he enlisted fifty stalwart patriots who, for a small fee, were willing to join in establishing a free and independent nation. He made the mistake, however, of including in his revolutionary junta a Freedom Fighter who refused to have a revolution unless it included his large farms upcountry, and that gave ideas to another patriot, who had his eye on a vast tract of fertile land about fifty miles east of the projected “Republic,” which he though would be a suitable reward for his devotion to the ideals of self-government. That, in turn, inspired at least one other member of the junta that was to seek liberation from Columbian oppression.
We should not judge Dr. Amador too harshly. Having made that initial blunder in recruiting, he doubtless reflected that if he thwarted the aspirations of his confederates, they might become tattletales, and that if he were arrested by the Columbian governor, those words, “We’ll see you through,” which had sounded so impressive when uttered in the White House at the witching hour, might have evaporated from the Rooseveltian memory. At all events, Dr. Amador yielded to his associates and, on his own responsibility, without consulting his employers, he revised the plan and made the scheduled revolution include the whole of the Columbian Department of Panama. Thus, perhaps unaware that the evil that men do lives after them, he recklessly laid a foundation for the farcical “nation” of mongrel rabble to which, in obedience to “world opinion” as manufactured by Sheenies in New York, we gave our strategic property in 1978.
As the fatal third of November drew near, Dr. Amador began to reflect that revolutions sometimes are accompanied by bodily harm. Although he had been assured that everything would be managed with American efficiency, he feared there might be some slip between the brimming cup and his own lip.
The Panamanians style Dr. Amador their George Washington and the Father of His Country, but they, with male bigotry, have never honored the true Mother of their Country. She was Mrs. Amador, who collared her husband as he was sneaking out the back door on that glorious morning and reminded him that if he missed his appointment for the revolution, he would be fired by the Panama Railroad — and then what would they do?
Thus emboldened by his Penthesilea, Dr. Amador agreed to hold the revolution, provided that the American Consul General in Panamá walked beside him, waving the American flag to ward off all risk of bodily harm. In those far-off days, as most of us have all but forgotten, the United States and its flag were respected throughout the world.
The revolution was staged with an aplomb that would have done credit to the Metropolitan Opera. Would that I had space to review the performance and give due credit to all the actors! But alas! Liberty Bell is limited to a fixed number of pages.
Dr. Amador raised the Flag of Freedom and, walking carefully in the lee of the American Consul General and the Stars and Stripes, he led his band of forty or forty-five Freedom Fighters to assault the citadels of Columbian tyranny.
(Some members of the junta apparently overslept that morning and did not reach the battlefield until all was over.) For $15,000 the Columbian general in command of the thousand nondescript soldiers that garrisoned the city saw that resistance was hopeless. The colonel in command of reinforcements that had arrived unexpectedly in Colón settled for $8,000 and a ticket home. American warships were patrolling both coasts to avert any impolite intrusion of fresh troops from Columbia, and in one place American marines were landed to instruct the locals, who did not know they had spontaneously revolted from Columbian despotism.
Dr. Amador’s victory, which involved the surrender of three generals in the Columbian army with several thousand troops, would have been gloriously bloodless, had it not been marred by one contretemps.
The commander of the Columbian gunboat Bogotá at anchor in the harbor had evidently been overlooked by the American agents. When he saw a commotion in the city with a strange flag that indicated a revolution was in progress, he opened fire on the insurgents. His marksmen scored on direct hit, thus inflicting the total casualties in Panama’s War for Independence: one Chinese laundryman and one donkey. Then he gave the order to cease fire.
The explanation of the sudden pacifism of the Bogotá’s skipper given in the Naval Academy at Annapolis years ago was the following. The captain turned his eyes from the embattled city to the American cruiser Brooklyn, anchored close by. He saw her eight-inch cannon swing round to focus on him, while a line of signal flags soared up the mast with the message, “Shut up or we’ll blow you out of the water.” (5)
(5. The story is not entirely accurate. For one thing, the Brooklyn was a heavy cruiser, but, unlike the California class, built a little later, it did not carry its eight-inch guns in turrets, as the story seems to imply. Moreover, unless naval records have been doctored, the Brooklyn could not have been in the harbor on Independence Day, and our peace-keeping forces must have been represented by the Boston, a small cruiser, but, to be sure, one with cannon that could have put the Bogotá under the water, if not out of it, with a single broadside. There seems to be no official record of what advice the Boston may have conveyed by whatever signal flags she displayed.)
The commander of the Bogotá was inspired to find a way out of the tactical situation with which he was thus confronted. He put on his uniform coat, hastened ashore, sold his gunboat to the new-born República de Panamá, and became the Admiral of the Navy he thus created.
At Colón, on the Atlantic side, there were no untoward incidents. The commander of the Columbian gunboat Cartagena contemplated the muzzles of the cannon on the U.S.S. Nashville and recalled the adage that discretion is the better part of valor. He was rewarded with permission to sail homeward unscathed.
In the meantime, the American Consul General, as soon as he was free of his duty to protect Dr. Amador, telegraphed the glad tidings to Washington, and was instructed to recognize the new government at once. Forty-six minutes later the now sovereign República de Panamá appointed, as its Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Washington, Philippe Buneau-Varilla, Jesse Seligman’s pet goy (he claimed to be a White man and I know of no proof that he was not), who had been Director General of the old Panama Canal Company (6) and, through the courtesy of international finance, was a large stockholder in the new.
(6. Having a well-greased hide, he, although the Director General, slithered from office and sight when the scandal broke. He had come to the attention of Isaac Seligman when, as co-owner of a Paris newspaper, he published photographs of two letters attributed to Dreyfus but in different handwritings, claiming they were proof that the irreproachable Jew had been “framed,” thereby influencing the French authorities to investigate the malodorous affair again. (I tried to summarize the Dreyfus case in a long footnote in America’s Decline, pp. 19-20.) Buneau-Varilla, who had a claim to respectability as an engineer, was hired to be the gang’s chief lobbyist in the United States, and after the American government had bought the worthless French Canal Company, he seems to have done much of the planning for the revolution. He wrote the Panamanian Declaration of Independence and, while living on Jesse Seligman’s luxurious summer estate in Westchester, stitched together the flag of the Isthmus which Dr. Amador was to display on the glorious third of November.)
After the Columbian forces in Panama had surrendered or prudently retired, the necessary treaty was promptly drawn up by the versatile Buneau-Varilla, and was ratified by the suddenly sovereign República de Panamá in December 1903, and by the United States Senate in February 1904. There was only one pathetic incident. After his decisive victory, Dr. Amador, the Father of his Country and naturally its first President, hastened to Washington, doubtless with visions of historic glory and perhaps with hopes of further improvement in the family fortunes. As he alighted from the train in Washington, however, he was greeted with the news that the treaty had been signed without him. It is said that the venerable old hero almost fainted right there on the platform.
The United States, you will be glad to know, promptly met its obligations. It paid $10,000,000 to the new-born nation, and the National Assembly of the República as promptly disbursed $3,000,000 to leading patriots for “necessary expenses” incurred during the Revolution, and immediately burned the accounts and other records. Numerous other dividends were paid later, including $50,000 to the Columbian general who had so wisely seen that his warriors were no match for Dr. Amador’s band of inspired idealists, and who had elected to remain in the Isthmus and become a Hero of his new Fatherland. (7) An American adventurer, disappointed, for reasons stated above, in obtaining the rank of Admiral, agreed to become General Jeffries and accept an estate of 200,000 acres of fertile land.
(7. It is said that although in those days the United States had a currency that was real money, General Heurtas, having become the Generalissimo of all the Armed Forces of the República de Panamá, took no chances and insisted on payment in gold.)
We may be sure that Dr. Amador, who had received a mere $25,000 by cable immediately after his victory, with a promise of $75,000 more, was not overlooked when the gravy boat came around again. His talented son, Raoul, was doubtless thanked with cash in New York, where he became the Consul General of the new nation and its only native diplomatic representative in this country, since its Ambassador Extraordinary etc. was legally a French citizen. Raoul held his office with distinction and profit until his matrimonial exuberance, to which we alluded above, suggested that it would be tactful to replace him with his younger brother.
We may be confident that, despite what was said when the Panamanians began to levy blackmail on the United States a few months later, no deserving Hero of the Revolution was left unfeed by American taxpayers.
Such was the Birth of the Nation that perpetually clamored for more backsheesh ever since Dr. Amador’s blunder created it.
The Panama Canal was built entirely with American money and, in all but the most menial tasks, American workmen. It was also built at the cost of many American lives, sacrificed to disease before American officials forced on the refractory inhabitants of the Canal Zone compliance with the elementary principles of sanitation, which the Americans supplemented by controlling the endemic yellow fever. The construction of the canal brought prosperity to a region that had previously subsisted on a little inefficient agriculture and the payroll of the Panama Railroad.
One unfortunate result of this prosperity and the introduction of sanitation was a rapid increase in the population of the region, as mestizos and natives swarmed out of the inaccessible jungles to share in the economic miracle and breed offspring without the natural checks on their proliferation. Another regrettable consequence was that the newly created Panamanians, chiefly White at first, began to compose myths about their Glorious Revolution, which the public schools in this country and the alien press and television disseminate for purposes of their own. The truth is so different that, as a matter of record, when the Panamanian flag, designed by Buneau-Varilla, was officially hoisted in Colón, no native could be found to raise it, even for a fee, and the only man courageous enough to undertake the simple task was William Murray Black, Major in the United States Army, one of the officers who had been sent into the Isthmus to make sure that there would be no fumbling in the well-subsidized Fight for Freedom.
The Panama Canal was officially opened to shipping in August 1941. It brought incalculable benefits not only to the region in which it is located but to the whole of what is called Latin America. Nicaragua felt that she had been cheated of her canal, but wisely stomached her resentment and guaranteed to the United States the right to build the canal originally planned whenever it wished to do so. (8) In Columbia, the leading citizens were not only indignant that their bluff had been called and they had been given no share of the boodle, but complained mightily that a part of Columbia’s territory had been taken without compensation. Their outraged feelings were salved with a grant of $25,000,000 in 1922, when yowling about “Yankee imperialism,” artfully encouraged by our domestic and foreign enemies, had become a habit south of the Rio Grande. (9)
(8. That is probably one reason why “our” C.I.A., by murders and suborning of treason, overthrew the government of the Somozas and plunged Nicaragua into a bloody chaos. Cf. Liberty Bell, May 1990, p. 9, and the reference there given. The Somozas maintained order and relative content, and would have gladly facilitated construction of a canal that would not only provide a “back up” for the existing canal, but would accommodate aircraft carriers and the newer tankers, ships which have too broad a beam to pass through the locks in Panama.)
(9. As I pointed out in my booklet, An Introduction to the Contemporary History of Latin America (1961); out-of-print), we long had friends and potential friends in Central and South America, but systematically and perversely worked to destroy them and to excite the rapine, bloodshed, and barbarity that we call “democracy.” Letters from persons of standing in the more civilized countries of South America, written to endorse my booklet, indicated that even in 1961 it was not too late to salvage at least some part of the respect that was accorded us before we became the principal promoters of Judaeo-Communist revolution and savagery. The Somozas were only the latest of our victims. Today, nowhere in the world would anyone who is not demonstrably feeble-minded trust Americans.)
The story should end here, but it does not. Dr. Amador, as we have said, made a blunder, but Theodore Roosevelt made a far greater one, for reasons which are obscure. He had been successful in the elections in November 1903, but he may already have been under the influence of “friends” who, eight years later, egged him into founding the Progressive Party and thus assuring the election to the presidency of their candidate, Woodrow Wilson, who, as one of their number indiscreetly boasted years later, had been led around by their American satrap, Barney Baruch, “like a poodle on a string” and taught to bark for “Democracy” and “New Freedom” at his masters’ command.
Whatever the explanation, Theodore Roosevelt thought it expedient to pretend that the “revolution” in Panama had been a “spontaneous” uprising by “oppressed” Panamanians. That preposterous lie exposed him and his government to continuous blackmail by Panamanian patriots, who, when he eventually refused to pay up on fresh demands, tried to exert pressure by leaking some information to the American press. Some of the leading newspapers were still owned by Americans at that time, and they had received good information from their own sources, but did not regard the events in the Isthmus as particularly remarkable. What did arouse interest was the unseasonable disclosure of the profits of Jesse Seligman, other aliens in the conspiracy, and their American hirelings, and of the baksheesh lawyer Cromwell had distributed in Congress.
Unfortunately, Theodore Roosevelt, who was as bull-headed as the Bull Moose he later selected as his symbol, instead of candidly and manfully admitting that he had performed a great service to the United States by beginning construction of the canal, felt obliged to protect Cromwell’s clients. He tried to bulldoze his way out of the consequences of his own blunder by punishing the press for having told part of the truth. He sued the New York World and the Indianapolis News in the Federal courts by using a legal fiction that later served the second Roosevelt in 1942, when that foul creature ordered the infamous “Sedition Trial.” (10)
(10. The theory was that if you, living in one state, mail a letter or even a copy of a newspaper to someone in another state, you have thereby engaged in interstate commerce and placed yourself under the jurisdiction of Federal courts, which can then send Federal marshals to haul you, in chains, if desired, to any city in the United States to defend yourself against any prosecution, however whimsical, that may be instituted in those courts, whether or not there is an applicable Federal statute pertaining to your supposed offense. Since the Jews’ “Sedition Trial” failed, this theory has not yet been tested in the “Supreme Court,” but don’t count on what that Revolutionary Tribunal will do, should the Master Race want the fiction implemented as a convenient means of afflicting recalcitrant serfs.)
The prosecution of the two newspapers (and by implication many others) failed, for in those days many men were appointed to lifetime tenure in the Federal courts without having given guarantees of obedience. When the case was finally thrown out of court by honest judges, who added severe animadversions on the absurd and dirty pretense under which it had been begun, Theodore Roosevelt belatedly decided to behave like an Aryan and a statesman. Seventy-nine days later, he boasted, before an audience at the University of California, “I took the Isthmus.”
By that time, however, the damage had been done. To defend themselves against the outrageous (and flagrantly illegal) prosecution, the accused newspapers had to undertake a long and costly investigation to substantiate what they had said. What had been an unpleasant odor emanating from small fissures in the cover of official secrecy became an unforgettable stench after the investigators opened wide rents in that cover.
Earl Harding, one of the accused, instead of half-forgetting a routine assignment as a reporter for the World, was aroused to devoting all of his spare time in his many remaining years to collecting irrefragable evidence of what really happened. That is why I have been able to summarize a story which, I hope, will have interested you — and told you something about the America that your parents threw away.
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Source: Liberty Bell magazine, July 1990