PanamaTimes

Monday, Apr 22, 2024

How Egypt’s Suez Canal Story Created an Echo in Latin America

How Egypt’s Suez Canal Story Created an Echo in Latin America

Standing before a crowd at Alexandria’s vast Mohammed Ali Square, former President Gamal Abdel Nasser teases the crowd with his enigmatic smile before his speech, and then finally takes the microphone and begins to speak about the nationalization of the Suez Canal. “Today we are going to get rid of what happened in the past; some of your fellow citizens have just taken over the Canal.”

The speech sent shockwaves across Egypt and the world, but it did not stop at the region or in Europe, but also across the oceans in Latin America. Egypt, for Venezuelan politician Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, showed the world that “human solidarity could confront blatant injustices” and that small nations, or developing nations, can operate a company as large as the Suez Canal.

So much has passed, and so many years have gone by, that today this historic event does not shake us as much or spark visions for the future anymore. But at the time, it made an echo and influenced two key events: the Panama Canal and the founding of OPEC.

From Western Oil Majors to OPEC


When Pérez Alfonzo became the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons in 1959, he aspired to control oil prices and put an oil producing country’s cartel in place of the private cartel of multinational oil corporations. His visions were aligned with Nasser’s aspiration for countries to independently manage their economies and prevent foreign powers from controlling oil prices.

A meeting was held in Cairo between 16 and 23 April 1959 between Pérez Alfonzo and other Arab leaders, including Abdullah Tariki, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia. At that time, the oil industry was controlled by Western Oil Majors, and included little to no involvement by the host developing countries. Developing nations had no say in what or how their resources were being used and exploited, and no authority in determining the future of their economy.

The meeting led to the co-creation of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which not only protects the interests of oil producing countries today, but also illustrates once again that countries in the Middle East and Latin America can come together and take control of their own economy and destiny.

Panama Canal


Scholar Federico Vélez also offers an interesting historical analysis on the influence of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s policies on Latin America, particularly the Panama Canal.

Vélez explains that before the events in Suez, the United States built a canal in Panama after the Colombian Congress refused to accept the conditions initially agreed upon by both governments, and the United States was granted the right to use, occupy, and control the five-mile zone on each side of the waterway, also known as the Canal Zone.

However, Panamanian nationalism grew, and eventually reached its climax with the events of Suez Canal. Nasser’s courage to stand against British colonialism and nationalize the Suez Canal began to appear as a thorn in the negotiations between the United States and Panama, as Vélez argues, which forced the United States to return to negotiations and accept a recalculation of royalties, as well as a promise to improve the labor and economic circumstances of Panamanians working in the American Zone.

When President Eisenhower asked his Secretary of Defense to negotiate with the Panamanian government and improve labor conditions, he emphasized that he did not want the situation to end up as the one the British had to face in Suez, and that the negotiations should not result in “incurring the risk of divided control.”

In a memo to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of Inter-American Affairs, the Acting Officer in charge of Central American and Panamanian Affairs, said that the “Panamanians… have made no secret of the fact that they follow with keen interest the developments of the Suez. The Government of Panama unquestionably looks to the day when it will be able in one way or another to emulate the recent action of Egypt.”

Nasser’s policies pushed university students in Panama City to call for a General Assembly and demand that the Panamanian government abolish the 1903 treaty and lend its full support to the cause in Egypt. By the late 1950s, student groups began a series of peaceful protests against the American presence in the Canal Zone and a “sovereignty” rally to demand the presence of the Panamanian flag in the Zone.

After the events culminated in a general uprising and led to the destruction of American property, the United States allowed Panamanians to raise their flag alongside the American flag in the Canal Zone. Panama’s new leader General Omar Torrijos negotiated a final agreement with the United States in 1977, which abrogated the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty of 1903, returning sovereignty and full control of the Canal and the Canal Zone to Panama.

Yet, fast forward to this day, it is hard to grasp just how much impact the Suez Canal had on global politics, and even Torrijos himself, when asked by a journalist about using Nasser as a model for his country, asked, “What did Nasser do?”

Nevertheless, while the world continues to struggle with the remains of neocolonialism, the story of the Suez Canal may once again ring a bell for those who wish to subjugate and control other nations’ resources.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×