Goodbye, Canal Force

As a U.S. citizen who piloted ships through the Panama Canal, Peter Tassell admits that he has been privileged.

"Making good U.S. salaries in the low-wage tropics, the Tassells have advanced to the point where they own five houses scattered around Panama as well as properties in New England and Prince Edward Island," writes Paul Knox in Toronto's centrist Globe and Mail.

"At noon on December 31, paradise will officially cease to exist," writes Knox. "Panama will take sole possession of the [Panama Canal], a vital link in world trade and a powerful symbol of U.S dominance for more than a century."

The U.S. withdrawal, says Knox, will take a large chunk out of Panama's $5-billion economy next year. Still, say many U.S. residents and Panamanians, the change will be for the better. Says Tassell, "Our time is past."