Executive Intelligence Review


Panama President Proud That Our ‘Connectivity’ Coheres with Belt and Road

June 25, 2018 (EIRNS)—In a June 6 interview with China Daily, reviewing Panama’s first year of diplomatic relations with China, President Juan Carlos Varela stressed that his nation’s air, maritime, logistics and port connectivity “is compatible with the main goals of the Belt and Road Initiative: the integration of nations.”

That connectivity, he said, can offer China and other nations a point of entry into Latin America. And,

“by forming part of the Belt and Road, Panama has been given the opportunity of opening and access to the region’s markets, of adding value to cargo that goes through the country ... using our advantageous geographical position, and maximizing the potential of one of the world’s main trade routes, the Panama Canal.”

Asked about the high-speed rail line that China will be building from Panama City north to the Costa Rican border, Varela emphasized that aside from its domestic benefits, the train is a

“first step toward the future integration of Central America, as it opens the doors for the continuation of the system outside of Panamanian territory, allowing for complementarity with the economies of neighboring countries and strengthening the region economically.”

At the same time, “it will enhance China’s connectivity with Latin America,” while complementing “Panama’s air, port, logistics and maritime platforms.” Not mentioned is that several of the nations through which a Central American train would travel, still maintain ties with Taiwan. Costa Rica, which has had diplomatic relations with China for ten years, is very interested in the proposed train. On June 21, its Foreign Minister Espy Campbell told Panamanian Foreign Minister Isabel Saint Malo, that her government hopes the train will extend beyond the border, to San José and then to the country’s main port, Puerto Limón, TVN Noticias reported.