Panama's leading scam promotion website published an article today stolen from La Critica, about Panamanian efforts to get stricken off the French blacklist of tax havens. This affects Panama, the article says, because the French want Panama to hand over "sensitive information" relating to the financial sector.
That's in itself not news, but the "editor's comment" below the story is:
Ah, economic pressure. How about this one - "Ships to or from France can't go through the Panama Canal until you take us off of your damn list..." Ponder that for a minute. Panama is not one to mess with when it comes to playing games of economic pressure. They have a big, huge baseball bat on their shoulder that they just might decide to use one day.
This is just another piece of evidence for the fact that that website's publisher, one Don Winner, is mentally ill. Panama can't stop ships from transiting the Canal like that, it would be a gross violation of the neutrality of the Canal as established in the Canal treaties. It would mean that the US armed forces would have to take over running the Canal to protect that neutrality, as they are obliged to do under the treaty. It would sink Panama's credit rating, cause an international crisis in the shipping industry, destroy the expansion project and any foreign investment would come to a screeching halt. We think that even suggesting a measure like this is already a violation of Panama's laws as it's a clear attempt to destroy Panama's economy.
UPDATE: You know why this is also an incredibly DUMB idea? If Panama would ever stop French or France-bound ships, how about France (and then Europe) stopping Panama flagged vessels from entering their ports? Ever think about that? It would cause ship owners to re-register overnight, leaving Panama with no registry left. Any other great ideas, Don Winner?