END OF ERA -- Panama Canal Transfer Ceremonies                          [p5 of 5]


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End of Era - Panama Canal Transfer Ceremonies - continued


The second ceremony was held outside the Panama Canal Administration Building at Balboa Heights the morning of December 31. It was preceded by religious masses in main cathedrals of the provinces.

Part of the public attending the December 31 canal transfer ceremony at the Panama Canal Administration Building at Balboa Heights. [Photo courtesy of the Panama Canal Authority]

As part of the scheduled events before the main ceremony, about 8,000 public high school students had marched from nearby Panama City to Balboa High School (near the Administration Building) to raise the Panamanian flag in front of the school. They were led by students who had marched the same route January 9, 1964, to try unsuccessfully to raise the Panamanian flag there. (That incident sparked riots that spread throughout Panama City and Colon, lasting two days.) Contrary to an Associated Press report published in the December 31 edition of the Dallas Morning News, no U.S. Marines -- nor any other U.S. military -- were present at that incident nor fired on any students.

The ceremony at Balboa Heights began with an hour-long concert at the site by the Panama National Symphony Orchestra, followed by remarks by U.S. Ambassador Simon Ferro, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera (representing President Clinton), and President Mireya Moscoso.

President Moscoso and Secretary Caldera signed a document formalizing Panama's possession of the Canal. Earlier that morning, Ambassador Ferro presented a diplomatic note on the canal transer to Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Aleman.

At noon, as President Moscoso was finishing her remarks, the pilots of tugboats and ships in the Canal blew their horns and whistles to commemorate the historic moment. Some 30,000 red, white, and blue balloons -- the colors of both countries -- were released into the sky marking the end of the ceremony.

President Mireya Moscoso and U.S. Ambassador to Panama Simon Ferro exchange signed documents formalizing Panama's ownership of the Panama Canal during the December 31 transfer ceremony. To Ferro's right is Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera. On the left side (from left) are Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Aleman and Minister of Canal Affairs and President of the Panama Canal Authority Board of Directors Ricardo Martinelli. [Photo courtesy of the Panama Canal Authority from its website]




This page last updated:  July 4, 2008
Site developed, owned and maintained by 
William H. Ormsbee, Jr.
1999-2001 / 2005-2008





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