Report from the Gatún Lake Defense Committee

NOTE: The following has been superseded by THIS POST:

I recently received an email from a reader of Chiriquí Chatter that is the director of the Gatún Lake Defense Committee. In it she said

From time-to-time the Gatún Lake Defense Committee, which I direct, issues results of ongoing investigations and research. Our most recent report was released without waiting for it in English due to the urgency of the subject.

I replied that I would like to review the report on the Panama Canal expansion and it was sent to me. I will present it below in the original Spanish form. I will add a Google translation following the Spanish version, which had begun to be translated and contains some translation at the beginning of the report.

As always a reminder that Google translation from Spanish is not perfect, but I believe that it did a pretty good jo on the following report. As stated before, this is the product of Gatún Lake Defense Committee and I appreciate their sending it to me and granting me permission to post it.

Living in Chiriquí and specifically David, I can see the impact of the new construction of the road from David to Boquete. My personal opinion really doesn’t count for much, but I really don’t like a lot of what I have seen to this point. In the name of progress, many of the age old trees have been removed with little thought of the environmental impact of future generations.

If the Panama government replaces each tree that is destroyed with a new tree, that would be something, but I will bet money that there will be only removal and no replacements. I believe that many parts of the road did not need to be four lane. Some areas two lane and others four lane would have created less environmental impact and also reduced the cost.

I can understand spending a large amount of money to expand the airport in David, but to spend an enormous amount connecting a city of about 8,000 with a city of 100,000+ is another thing.

You can read the report of the Gatún Lake Defense Committee below. As I said, the first part is as I received it, including some translation at the beginning. Following the original report will be a Google translation from Spanish to English.

In view of the recent revelations regarding the Panama Canal expansion project, the report below provides a valuable and timely contribution.
En vista de las recientes revelaciones acerca del proyecto de ampliación del Canal de Panamá, los aportes del informe a continuación son muy valiosos y puntuales.

Highly negative assessments of the Panama Canal expansion project by the current President and Vice-President of Panama reflect facts, not opinion.
Las evaluaciones muy negativas del proyecto por el actual Presidente y por el Vice-Presidente de Panamá reflejan hechos, no opiniones.

Deliberately hiding this“disaster”, as it was characterized, behind hype and politics is unpardonable. Particularly since it can be expanded without creating such high risks and damage.
Deliberadamente ocultar este “desastre”, como se caracterizó al proyecto, detrás de propaganda y política es imperdonable. Especialmente cuando se puede ampliar sin crear tantos riesgos y daños.

For the world to allow it to proceed unchallenged and unchanged, would be to commit financial, commercial and environmental suicide with international repercussions.
Que el mundo permita que proceda sin impugnarlo y sin cambios, sería un suicidio financiero, comercial y ambiental con repercusiones internacionales.

Please distribute this document. The urgency for reviewing every aspect of this project immediately cannot be over-emphasized.
Favor distribuir este documento. No se puede exagerar la urgencia de revisar todos los aspectos de este proyecto de inmediato.

Comité ProDefensa del Lago Gatún (Gatún Lake Defense Committee)
The Gatún Lake Defense Committee advocates for a genuinely responsible and sustainable expansion of the Panama Canal, where its valuable resources are used effectively and left undamaged for the benefit of this and future generations. (Visit www.crucestrail.com)
El Comité ProDefensa del Lago Gatún aboga por una ampliación realmente responsable y sostenible del Canal de Panamá, que usa sus recursos valiosos efectivamente y los deja sin daños para el beneficio de esta y de generaciones futuras. (Visite www.crucestrail.com)

El Porqué Se Avanza Una Ampliación Dañina del Canal de Panamá
Bert G. Shelton, Ingeniero e Investigador Científico, 5 de enero de 2011

No hay duda que con el logro de completar el Canal de Panamá cien años atrás se creó la octava maravilla del mundo. El servicio que le ofrece al mercado mundial ha crecido a tal grado que a pesar de que sus peajes hayan aumentado más del 1000% en poco más de diez años, hoy la transita más carga que nunca. Está claro que vale la pena ampliarlo.

Precisamente debido a su alta demanda hay que asegurar que sea ampliada de la forma más efectiva posible, teniendo en cuenta a todos los costos junto a los impactos a terceros y al medioambiente. Una ampliación mediocre, o peor aún la que se construye hoy, no es aceptable.

Costos & Daños Injustificables
Ahora está en construcción un sistema de esclusas con tinas de reciclaje que es demasiado costoso y complicado para lo que proporcionará. Hay otros sistemas confeccionados de los mismos componentes, y más modernos por una o dos generaciones, que rinden significativamente más servicio usando notablemente menos agua. Es más,
por como se han engranado más efectivamente los componentes y sus operaciones, sistemas más modernos logran reducir el número de manejos mecánicos y de traslados de agua.

El sistema en construcción tiene desventajas adicionales. Requerirá más mantenimiento que los sistemas más modernos. Es más, el dique que se construirá encima de fallas activas arriesgará al canal entero, lo cual es perfectamente evitable con sistemas más modernos de mayor rendimiento y más rentables.

Si lo antedicho no fuese suficiente para optar por otro sistema, lo que hoy se construye salinizará al Lago Gatún rápidamente al ser operado, poniendo en riesgo de extinción a muchas de las criaturas marinas de ambos mares. Dañará la valiosa agua dulce de este lago sin necesidad alguna, a excepción de la de pasarles el negocio de abastecerle agua al pueblo a los que recientemente obtuvieron las concesiones del resto de las aguas dulces de los ríos del país.

Finalmente, una vez que esta farsa concluya y el sistema comience a funcionar, no podrá ser transformado a uno menos dañino y los daños a los mares no se podrán anular – no poseemos esa magia.

Sabiendo todo esto, hay que preguntar ¿cómo acabo la ampliación con este plan, y porqué sigue en este rumbo?

Lo explicaré con el siguiente relato.

Armando el Engaño
Dos años antes de que se divulgara la intención de ampliar el canal, ya estaba decidido lo que se iba a hacer. Esta conclusión la baso en mi propia experiencia con el proyecto. A los dos años de haberse anunciado la intención de ampliar al Canal de Panamá – que ocurrió a finales del 2002, seguido al comienzo del 2003 por la presentación en el Discovery Channel – les presenté a los ingenieros de la ACP otro tipo de alzador de naves. Al cabo de mi presentación me informaron que lo que presenté llegó cuatro(4) años “muy tarde”. Es decir, la decisión de cómo se ampliaría el canal se tomó poco después de que los Estados Unidos cedió al Canal en su totalidad al pueblo panameño.

Pregunto entonces, ¿en cuál espacio de tiempo identificaron, formaron, evaluaron y compararon las mejores opciones para alzar naves de las cuales escogieron las esclusas con tinas?

Durante los años del manejo compartido con los Estados Unidos no se hicieron tales estudios. Si en verdad evaluaron algunos casos, ¿cuándo lo hicieron y adónde están los detalles de esas evaluaciones?

Lo que se presentó en el Plan Maestro como las “alternativas” que fueron evaluadas es una burla. El Plan Maestro ni siquiera incluye un listado de los retos y requisitos en cuales basar un diseño de esclusas u otras opciones. Sin esos datos no es posible “diseñar” cualquiera de las alternativas, incluyendo la escogida, y mucho menos hacer comparaciones.

No hay prueba alguna de que los estudios necesarios fueron hechos.

Despistando al Público
Repetidamente durante los foros públicos previos al plebiscito se les prometió a los que asistieron que – una vez aprobada la ampliación y una vez conseguido el dinero para hacerlo – sus preocupaciones serían resueltas a su satisfacción antes de comenzar a construir. Pero esas promesas quedaron en el olvido al obtenerse el voto.

Estos hechos son incompatibles con los discursos del alto nivel de transparencia en el manejo del proyecto . Desde el punto de vista técnico y de la lógica era muy difícil entender porqué se gestionaban las cosas de esta manera.

Sin embargo, el porqué quedó muy claro al considerar que todo era una jugada financiera para obtener préstamos de los bancos de desarrollo rápidamente.

En base a lo observado, pareciera que sólo una opción – una que los bancos aceptarían como válida – fue creada. Por lo visto, lo único de importancia era poder cumplir con los requisitos inicales para completar y presentar las solicitudes de préstamos con prontitud. Esa meta se alcanzó usando las esclusas con tinas.

A partir de ese punto todo parece haber sido un “show mediático” para asegurar que no surgieran discrepancias en la “sustentación” de las declaraciones hechas a los bancos para así obtener los fondos anhelados lo antes posible. Se concluye que ésta es la razón por la cual fueron evadidas las discusiones de puntos técnicos críticos durante los foros.

A todas luces, pareciera que el plan actual está fundado en falsedades.

Perpetuando el Engaño
Para poder repartir los contratos lo antes posible, era de suma importancia que no se retrasara la obtención de los préstamos provenientes de los bancos de desarrollo. La revelación de cualquier problema en desacuerdo con los requisitos de los bancos hubiera requerido evaluaciones reales y hubiera causado el retraso, o la cancelación, de dichos préstamos.

Lo curioso es que – mientras que en Panamá se permitía que los moderadores de los foros esquivaran discusiones claves llegando hasta burlarse de personas que hacían preguntas serias y puntuales – otras instituciones, los bancos intenacionales en particular, daban la impresión de aceptar todas las garantías del proyecto sin, o con un mínimo de, cuestionamiento.

Pareciera que se considera que para ser transparente sólo hay que poner a la vista lo que conviene, y simplemente no mencionar lo que no. Por lo visto esa actitud no se limita a Panamá, como fue dejado muy claro por los “WikiLeaks”.

Desde que se anunció el proyecto de ampliación y hasta la fecha – ni en Panamá, ni en paises “más desarrollados” en donde han lanzado proyectos propios que dependen de que se realize este a tiempo – no se ha publicado en medios de alta circulación artículo alguno que lo critique o que presente otros puntos de vista. Sugiere que todos tienen intereses de por medio.

Que una obra pública – y en particular una tan grande como es la del Canal de Panamá, y de tanta importancia para el mundo – avance a su construcción sin discusiones ni debates abiertos e interactivos, por lo menos con respecto a su elemento más crítico, es inaceptable.

En el mundo, nunca ha nacido un proyecto de esta magnitud con la solución “perfecta” ya identificada. Tampoco es éste el primero que lo haya logrado, aunque así pareciera que lo intentan declarar sus promotores. Las esclusas con tinas son altamente ineficientes y dañinas. No obstante, aunque se sabe que hay otras mucho más indicadas, el proyecto avanza tal y como está, sin impedimentos, presuntamente debido a los intereses de terceros.

Una Ampliación Más Rentable
Discusiones acerca de esta ampliación siguen, como desde el inicio, centrados principalmente en su financiamiento y en su rentabilidad, pero jamás se ha divulgado que — por la misma inversión – los ingresos previstos pudieran ser muchisimos más. Más allá de haber sido repetidamente declaradas las esclusas más apropiadas para esta ampliación, en lo que se puede caracterizar como propaganda, los argumentos técnicos para sustentar esa calificación jamás fueron presentados ni debatidos, ni tampoco sustentaron los supuestos beneficios económicos superiores que aportarían.

Desde el siglo antepasado las cuatro técnicas con las cuales se puede variar la cantidad de agua que se desgasta al alzar o bajar buques que transitan sistemas de esclusas se ha conocido. Las esclusas seleccionadas para esta ampliación del Canal de Panamá sólo contienen dos. Las esclusas originales del canal contienen más.

Estudios independientes demuestran que hay arreglos de esclusas de costos comparables que contienen otras combinaciones de las cuatro técnicas. El mejor de estos arreglos aumentaría los tránsitos diarios por al menos dos-tercios, con cada tránsito usando menos de dos-tercios del agua que usarán las esclusas seleccionadas.

Se ha dicho que las esclusas con tinas usarán el 40% del agua que usarían esclusas “normales” operadas como a las actuales. Pero en realidad éstas usarán más cerca al 45%, porque ese 40% no incluye el agua que se gastará de rutina al cambiar la dirección de los tránsitos.

En comparación, el arreglo más sencillo de las mejores alternativas reduciría el uso del agua al 37% de lo “normal”. Este arreglo consistiría meramente de cuatro copias agrandadas de las esclusas de Pedro Miguel, las cuales contendrían una modificación simple – conocida por más de un siglo – a su sistema de ductos internos.

Esta opción de dos carriles, sin tina alguna, requeriría casi la misma cantidad de concreto para construirla y necesitaría menos mantenimiento. No presentaría el riesgo de un cierre a tránsitos como tendrá el sistema de un carril.

Otra opción, similar a la descrita de tipo Pedro Miguel tendría dos tinas entre sus dos carriles, y requeriría cerca de 20% más concreto para construirla. Sin embargo usaría sólo el 25% del agua que usarían esclusas “normales” operadas como las actuales, comparada a la selección actual que usará 40%+.

Debido a la marcada reducción de agua consumida por cada buque transitando a esta opción más eficiente, se podrían transitar hasta 20 al día con la misma agua que transitará los 12 previstos para la ampliación actual, y hasta 22 cuando haya más agua. .

En resumen, con poca inversión adicional se lograría como mínimo 160% de los ingresos que ahora se prevén.

Más Capacidad, Mejor Futuro
Considerando lo antedicho, hay varias formas para incrementar el rendimiento de la inversión que se está haciendo en esta ampliación. Sus riesgos y daños se pueden evitar con un mejor uso de la tecnología disponible en la actualidad y un mayor rendimiento se puede obtener sin costo adicional de importancia. La selección actual no tiene sentido asi que ¿cuál es el beneficio de introducirle un riesgo catastrófico al sistema canalero y de dañar al medioambiente irremediablemente?

Mejores arreglos de esclusas añadirían otros beneficios. Ocuparían menos espacio, permitirían eliminar el dique peligroso sobre fallas activas – que podrá ocasionar la pérdida del Lago Gatún – y reducirían marcadamente la entrada de agua salada al sistema. Además, incluirían un método efectivo para mitigar la intrusión salina a largo plazo.

Los ejemplos presentados serían compatibles con los requisitos de los préstamos, y sin engaños. Además, proporcionarían mejores posibilidades para el crecimiento futuro del canal.

Con tantas ventajas al alcanze hay que preguntar ¿cuál es el beneficio para los negocios del transporte marítimo y del canal de gastar tanto dinero en esclusas que, con peajes más altos, rendirán sólo dos-tercios del servicio de tránsitos que rendiría una ampliación que utiliza el mejor de los sistemas de esclusas hoy disponibles? Y, aún falta considerar los impactos negativos evitables a la población causadas por la ampliación en su forma actual.

Nuevamente, ¿cuál es la lógica de este proyecto en su rumbo actual?

Disponibilidad de Agua
En la actualidad se escucha desde la zona de la cuenca oriental del canal – zona cuyas aguas están reservadas para el futuro uso del canal – que a los moradores se les ha informado que ya deben empezar a desalojar el área para dar paso a la inclusión de esa zona en la cuenca.

Esto es inaceptable.

Previo al plebiscito se declaró que no sería necesario ampliar la cuenca para este proyecto. Como la cuenca de hoy recibe más que suficientes lluvias para abastecer a esta ampliación, se propuso hacerle ajustes al sistema de esclusas y cambios al manejo del Lago Gatún para mejorar la utilización de las aguas de la cuenca actual .

Pero, la validez de ese plan complicado nunca fue sustentado.

Sin embargo, con ese plan – y con la aprobación de una ley “en contra de embalses” – se declaró que las preocupaciones de los moradores de la zona oriental habian sido “atendidas”, y de allí se procedió al voto que aprobó al proyecto..

Ahora, con el voto en el bolsillo, pareciera que se pretende proceder a ampliar la cuenca, completando así el engaño.

Esos sucesos sugieren que nunca hubo intencion de hacerle ajustes a la cuenca actual para obtener el agua requerido.

No han sido investigadas a fondo las formas de mejorar el manejo de la cuenca. Eso habría que hacerse antes de decidir ampliarla e impactar areas nuevas.

Un Plebiscito Fraudulento
Lo que al pueblo se le preguntó era si querían o no que se ampliara el canal. No se les preguntó más nada. Sin embargo, pareciera que el “sí” que el pueblo dió se ha convertido en una entrega total de éste bien a los promotores de la obra. En efecto, el pueblo panameño ha perdido todo derecho de involucrarse en asuntos de la ampliación; no importa cómo impacte al público, ni que el pueblo se oponga, “va como va” porque va.

Al plebiscito, lo denuncio como no-democrático, porque no hay democracia en el mundo en el cual los gobernantes pueden poner todo el peso del gobierno para apoyar el resultado que ellos buscan.

Al igual denuncio los foros previos al plebiscito como no haber sido imparciales. Alego que fueron manipuladas para evadir discusiones serias que pudiesen haber cambiado el resultado del voto.

Es más, previo al plebiscito toda la información relevante para la importante decisión a mano no era de libre acceso. Había que presentar una solititud para obtener información adicional y explicar porqué se necesitaba. Eso no sólo desalentaba el proceso de investigación por terceros, pero también impedía que uno revisara todos los aspectos libremente para descubrir todo el detalle.

Como fue manejado, detalles críticos podían quedar fuera de la respuesta a la solicitud ya que el trámite aseguraba que el investigador no encontrara los contenciosos. Él no sabría por antemano cómo preparar su solicitud con la exactitud necesaria para asegurarse de recibir esos detalles.

El proceso que condujo al plebiscito no fue transparente, y nada ha cambiado desde entonces.

Hay Tiempo Para Mejorar, Sin Defraudar
En base a lo antedicho, rechaso rotundamente la excusa de que ya es “muy tarde” para echar atrás la selección de esclusas para esta ampliación del Canal de Panamá. El convertir la tarea de completar la obra en un asunto de orgullo nacional – para ganar el respaldo del pueblo para un plan inefectivo, dañino, y de segunda – es repugnante.

La irresponsabilidad nunca es aceptable y no ha de ser premiada.

Decir que ya no es factible hacer cambios porque es “muy tarde” es totalmente falso.

Si uno asesora el costo del tiempo requerido para recapacitar y lo mide contra todo el trabajo que se puede eliminar de la ampliación actual en combinación con el aumento en capacidad que se obtendrá con la misma, no hay duda que cambiar las esclusas a unas mejores lo haría mucho más rentable.

Sépase que lo que no fue divulgado al pueblo panameño – pero que no es un secreto en el extranjero – es que hay una segunda ampliación ya planificada. Esa segunda ampliación es igual de ineficiente y dañina por ser una copia de la primera.

Las mismas mejoras requeridas por la ampliación actual – que reducen costos y aumentan capacidad – beneficiarían a cualquiera futura ampliación. Al cambiar el tipo de esclusas ahora a unas que rinden más, no tendría que hacerse una segunda ampliación tan pronto como se prevé actualmente.

No obstante, si “va como va”, el crecimiento futuro del canal quedará severamente reducido, y eso será irreversible. Hasta sería preferible pagarles a los contratistas por no construir nada a que se complete lo pretendido.

Entiéndase que aquí sólo se están discutiendo las esclusas del proyecto. La colocación del concreto para ellas no ha empezado. Los trabajos de ampliar los cauces de navegación existentes y los de excavar cauces nuevos que ya están en marcha no se pierden al cambiar la selección de las esclusas.

Junto con mis argumentos en contra de las esclusas elegidas, denuncio el plan de ampliar la cuenca hidrográfica del canal hacia el nor-oeste porque la necesidad de ampliarla está íntegramente ligada a las esclusas que questiono y porque falta hacerse un asesoramiento veráz de las diversas mejoras que podrían introducirse en la cuenca existente. Hay que subsanar estas faltas antes de proceder con la ampliación de la cuenca.

Conclusión
Pareciera que el plan actual de ampliación del Canal de Panamá tiene todo que ver con maximizar la construcción en materia de excavaciones y estructuras, más asegurar la incorporación de las reservas de agua lo antes posible debido al trabajo que eso agrega. Maximizar el potencial del mismo canal no parece formar parte del plan, pero sí las ganacias de los involucrados en la obra. Daños a terceros y al medioambiente ni figuran.

El apuro de repartir contratos lucrativos, junto con el apuro en sacarle provecho a todos los recursos del país de un tiro – algo que nunca se haría en verdaderos paises de primer mundo con dirigentes responsables – crea la fuerte impresión que lo que motiva a los que están a cargo es hacerse multi-millonarios a costillas del pueblo.

Hay que ponerle un alto a estos fraudes. Si este rumbo se mantiene quedará poco de la joya que fue Panamá en el siglo pasado.

Vale la pena ampliar al Canal de Panamá y tenemos los conocimientos y la tecnología para hacerlo bien.

No hay justificación alguna para una ampliación mediocre que expone a este canal al peligro permanente de su pérdida total a causa de un dique construido irresponsablemente encima de fallas activas. Poner fuera del alcance al potencial máximo del Canal de Panamá y arriesgar a especies marinas a causa de unas esclusas mal escogidas de ineficiencia perpétua que salinizarán al Lago Gatún, sería descartar – con desprecio total – a más de un siglo de estudios y evaluaciones responsables.

The following is the Google translation from Spanish to English:

In light of recent revelations about the proposed Canal expansion
Panama, the contributions of the report below are very valuable and timely.

Very negative evaluations of the project by the current President and the Vice-
President of Panama reflect facts, not opinions.

Deliberately concealing this “disaster”, as characterized the project behind
and political propaganda is unforgivable. Especially when you can expand without creating so much risk and damage.

Allow the world to proceed without objection and without changes, would be suicide
financial, trade and international environmental impact.

Please distribute this document. I can not overstate the urgency of reviewing all
aspects of this project immediately.
ProDefensa Committee of Gatun Lake (Gatun Lake Defense Committee)

The Gatun Lake ProDefensa Committee advocates a truly responsible and sustainable expansion of the Panama Canal, which uses valuable resources effectively and leaves no damage for the benefit of this and future generations. (Visit www.crucestrail.com)

Why is the Advance A Harmful Expansion of Panama Canal
Bert G. Shelton, Engineer and Scientist, 5 January 2011

No doubt the achievement of completing the Panama Canal a century ago created the eighth wonder of the world. The service offers the world market has grown to such an extent that despite their tolls have risen over 1000% in just over ten years, more cargo transits today than ever. Clearly, it is worth expanding it.

Precisely because of its high demand must be expanded to ensure that the most effective way possible, taking into account all the costs along to the third party impacts and the environment. An extension mediocre, or worse still being built today is not acceptable.

Costs & unjustified damage
Now under construction is a system of locks with recycling tubs is too expensive and complicated for what it provided. Other systems made of the same components, and more modern one or two generations, which yield significantly more service using significantly less water. Moreover, by how they have engaged more effectively the components and their operations, newer systems able to reduce the number of mechanical handling and transportation of water.

The construction system has additional drawbacks. Require more maintenance than more modern systems. Moreover, the dam will be built over active faults will risk the entire channel, which is entirely preventable with modern systems of higher performance and more profitable.

If the foregoing were not enough to choose another system, which now builds
a saline Gatun Lake to be operated quickly, putting at risk of extinction to many marine creatures of both seas. Damage the valuable fresh water of the lake without any need to pass than that of the business of supplying water to the people who recently obtained concessions from the rest of the fresh waters of the rivers of the country.

Finally, once this farce end and the system becomes operational, it can be transformed into a less harmful and damage to the seas may be terminated – we do not have that magic.

Knowing all this, one must ask just how this expansion plan, and why it continues on this course?

I will explain the following story.

Armando Deception
Two years before it was disclosed the intention to expand the channel was already decided what would be done. This conclusion is based on my experience with the project. Two years after announced plans to expand the Panama Canal – which occurred in late 2002 to early 2003 followed by the presentation at the Discovery Channel – I presented to the engineers of the ACP other ships lifter . After my presentation I was told that what was presented four (4) years “too late.” That is, the decision on how to widen the canal was taken shortly after the U.S. gave the Canal to the Panamanian people as a whole.

Wonder then, in what space of time identified, trained, assessed and
compared the best options for lifting ships which picked the locks with tubs?

During the years of shared management with the United States were not such
studies. If you really evaluated some cases, when they did and where are the details of these assessments?

What was presented in the Master Plan as the “alternatives” that were tested is a joke.The Master Plan does not even include a list of the challenges and requirements on which to base a design of locks or other options. Without such data it is possible to “design” any of the alternatives, including the choice, much less make
comparisons.

There is no evidence that the necessary studies were made.

Mislead the public
Repeatedly during public forums before the referendum they were promised to those who attended it – once approved the extension and once obtained the money to do – their concerns would be resolved to your satisfaction before starting construction. But those promises were forgotten by obtaining a vote.

These facts are incompatible with speeches by the high level of transparency in
project management. From the technical point of view of logic was very difficult
understand why things were managed in this way.

However, the reason became clear when considering that it was a financial move to get loans from development banks quickly.

Based on the observations, it appears that only one option – one that banks would accept as valid – was created. Apparently, the only thing of importance was to meet the requirements inicales to complete and submit loan applications promptly. That goal was achieved using locks with tubs.

From that point everything seems to be a “media show” to ensure that no discrepancies in the “lift” of the statements made to banks to obtain funds as soon as possible cherished. We conclude that this is the reason why the discussions were evaded critical technical points in the forums.

Clearly, it appears that the current plan is based on falsehoods.

Perpetuating Deception
In order to distribute the contracts as soon as possible was of paramount importance not
delay in obtaining loans from development banks. The
disclosure of any problems at odds with the requirements of actual assessments would have required banks and had caused the delay or cancellation of such loans.

The funny thing is that – while in Panama were allowed to dodge forum moderators discussions reaching key people making fun of serious and specific questions – other institutions, banks intenacional in particular, seemed to accept all the guarantees project with no or minimal, questioning.

It seems that is considered to be transparent just put the sight of what it is, and simply do not mention what is not. Apparently this attitude is not confined to Panama, as was made very clear by the “WikiLeaks.”

Since announcing the expansion project and to date – or Panama, or in countries “more developed” where they have launched their own projects that depend on you do this on time – not published in high circulation media article some criticize it or to present other views. Suggests that all have interests at stake.

A public works – and particularly one as large as the Panama Canal, and of such importance to the world – go to construction without discussion or debate open and interactive, at least with respect to its most critical is unacceptable.

In the world, never was born a project of this magnitude with the “perfect” solution already identified. Nor is this the first that he succeeded, although it seems that they try to declare their promoters. Locks tubs are highly inefficient and harmful. However, although it is known that there are other much more listed, the project moves forward as is, without hindrance, presumably due to the interests of third parties.

A Enlarge More Profitable
Discussions about this extension below, as from the beginning, focusing
mainly in its financing and its profitability, but has never been reported that – for the same investment – the expected revenue could be many, many more. After they have been repeatedly declared the most appropriate locks for this expansion, as can be characterized as propaganda, the technical arguments to support this qualification were never presented or discussed, nor sustained over the supposed economic benefits that would bring.

From the past century the four techniques with which you can vary the amount of water that is worn to raise or lower vessels that transit the lock systems has been known. The locks selected for this expansion of the Panama Canal contain only two. The canal locks contain more original.

Independent studies show that there are arrangements comparable cost of locks containing other combinations of the four techniques. The best of these arrangements would increase the daily transits by at least two-thirds, with each transit using less than two-thirds of the water used selected locks.

It is said that the locks will use tubs of water, 40% would use locks
“Normal” operated as at present. But in reality they will use closer to 45%, 40% because that does not include water that will be spent on routine by changing the direction of the transits.

In comparison, the simplest arrangement of the best alternatives would reduce the use of
water to 37% of “normal.” This arrangement would be only four copies
enlarged Pedro Miguel Locks, which contain a modification
simple – known for over a century – to its domestic pipeline system.

This choice of two lanes, no tub some, would require almost the same amount of
specifically to build and require less maintenance. No one would risk closure will transit as a rail system.

Another option, similar to the type described Pedro Miguel will have two baths between the two
lanes, and would require about 20% more concrete to build. But would use
only 25% water sluices would use “normal” operated as current
compared to the current selection will use 40% +.

Due to the sharp reduction of water consumed for each vessel transiting the most efficient option, it could travel up to 20 a day with the same water that will transit the 12 planned for the current expansion, and up to 22 when more water. .

In short, with little additional investment would be achieved at least 160% of revenue is now expected.

More Capacity, Better Future
Considering the above, there are several ways to increase performance
investment is being done in this expansion. Risks and damage can be avoided with better use of currently available technology and better performance can be achieved without significant additional cost. The current selection does not make sense so what is the benefit of introducing a catastrophic risk to the canal system and irreparably harm the environment?

Best arrangements of locks add other benefits. Occupy less space,
to remedy the dangerous dam on active faults – which may cause
loss of Lake Gatun – and markedly reduce saltwater intrusion into the system. Also, include an effective method to mitigate saline intrusion in the long term.

The examples presented would be compatible with the requirements of the loans, and without deceit. Also, provide better opportunities for future growth of the channel.

With so many advantages within the reach you have to ask what is the benefit to the business of shipping and canal locks to spend so much money, with higher tolls will yield only two-thirds of transit service that would yield an extension that uses the best system of locks available today? And yet to consider the avoidable negative impacts caused by population expansion in its current form.

Again, what is the logic of this project in its present course?

Water Availability
It is now heard from the area of the eastern basin of the canal – the area which
waters are reserved for future use of the channel – that the inhabitants have been
reported that it should begin to leave the area to make way for the inclusion of that area in the basin.

This is unacceptable.

Prior to the referendum was declared that it would be necessary to expand the watershed for this
project. As of today the basin receives more than enough rainfall to supply this expansion, the proposed adjustments, the system of locks and changes to the management of Gatun Lake to improve water use in the basin today.

But the validity of this complicated plan was never substantiated.

However, with that plan – and with the approval of a law “against reservoirs” – it was stated that the concerns of the residents of the eastern had been
“Served”, and then proceeded to vote that approved the project ..

Now, with the vote in his pocket, looked like it was intended to proceed to expand
basin, thus completing the deception.

These developments suggest that there was never the intention of making adjustments to the current basin for the water required.

They have not been thoroughly investigated ways to improve the management of the basin. That would be done before deciding to expand and impact new areas.

A fraudulent plebiscite
What the people were asked whether they wanted to broaden the channel. They are not
asked more than anything. However, it seems that the “yes” gave the people has become a total delivery of the goods to the promoters of the work. Indeed, the Panamanian people have lost all right to engage in issues of enlargement, no matter how it impacts the public, nor that the people object, “is how it goes” because it goes.

At the plebiscite, denounced as undemocratic, because there is no democracy in the world in which leaders can put the full weight of government to support the outcome they seek.

Like previous forums denounced the referendum as not being impartial. I submit
were manipulated to avoid serious discussions that could have changed the outcome of the vote.

Moreover, after the referendum all the relevant information for important decision
hand was not freely available. Had to file a solititud for additional information and explain why it was needed. This not only discouraged the research process by third parties, but also prevented a free review all aspects to discover all the details.

As was handled, could be left out critical details of the response to the request
since the process ensured that the researcher found no disputes. He did not
know in advance how to prepare your application with the required accuracy to ensure you receive these details.

The process leading to the referendum was not transparent, and nothing has changed since
then.

There is time to improve, not short
Based on the foregoing, outright rejections on the grounds that it is “too late” to
roll back the selection of locks for the Panama Canal expansion. The
make the task of completing the work in a matter of national pride – to win
Village support for a plan ineffective, harmful, and second – is disgusting.

The irresponsibility is never acceptable and should not be rewarded.

Say it is not feasible to make changes because it is “too late” is totally false.

If one assesses the cost of time required to step back and measure it against the whole
work that can be removed from the current expansion in combination with increased capacity to be obtained with the same, no doubt to change the locks would better more profitable.

Be it known that it was not disclosed to the Panamanian people – but that’s not a secret overseas – is that a second expansion already planned. This second extension is just as ineffective and damaging to be a copy of the first.

These improvements required by the current enlargement – to reduce costs and increase capacity – would benefit any future enlargement. By changing the type of locks now about to perform better, should not be a second extension as soon as currently expected.

However, if “is how it goes,” the network’s future growth will be severely
reduced, and that will be irreversible. So it would be preferable to pay the contractors
build nothing to complete what is intended.

Understood that here are only discussing the locks of the project. The concrete placement for them to start. The work of expanding the existing navigation channels and digging new channels already in place are not lost on selection change the locks.

Along with my arguments against the locks elected, denounced the plan to extend the canal basin to the north-west because the need to expand is integrally linked to the locks that question and because there is no truthful advice made many improvements that could be made to the existing basin. We must correct these errors before proceeding with the enlargement of the basin.

Conclusion
It seems that the current plan to expand the Panama Canal has everything to do with maximizing the building on excavations and structures, incorporating more secure water supplies as soon as possible because of the work that adds. Maximize the potential of the channel does not appear to be part of the plan, but the earnings of those involved in the work. Damage to others and the environment or contained.

The trouble of distributing lucrative contracts, along with the rush to take advantage of all
the country’s resources with one stone – something I never would in real first world countries with responsible leadership – creates the strong impression that what motivates those who are in charge is made multi-millionaires at the expense of the people.

We must put a stop to these scams. If this course is maintained will be little jewel that was Panama in the last century.

Worthwhile to expand the Panama Canal and have the knowledge and technology to do well.

There is no justification for a mediocre expansion exposes this channel
permanent danger of total loss due to a dam built on top of active faults irresponsibly.Keep out of reach to the maximum potential of the Panama Canal and risk to marine species due to a badly chosen locks perpetual inefficiency that salinized Gatun Lake would rule – with total contempt – more than a century of studies and evaluations responsible.

11 thoughts on “Report from the Gatún Lake Defense Committee

  1. Only 8000 up there in Boquete Don? Well, obviously the govt. has big long term plans for further development up there and then connecting with the Camino Sur……….shame about the trees…….would have been nice to work around them somehow, but at least they are moving ahead……9 yrs ago I ruled out Potreillos as a place tolive even tho I like it cuz of the horrible congested road to David….I couldnt live with it…..and that was 9 yrs ago before the invasion……..

  2. Haven’t had the chance to read the announcement in its entirety, but what I did read was enough to upset me again. And I agree with you about the David-Boquete expansion. It is sickening to see all those mutilated trees piled up against mounds of red dirt where lush vegetation once existed. As I’ve said elsewhere, the landscape looks more like Arizona than Chiriqui. This beautiful country is being sacrificed for the concerns of big business. It’s so disheartening.

  3. There’s more coming. A copper mine near San Felix, possible oil drilling in the Darien, the gold mine, several hydroelectric dams. It seems there is a rush to ruin the beauty of Panama. The road from David is so upsetting. Wouldn’t a few passing lanes have done the job without that massive tree rape? Somebody must be getting kickbacks for this. There doesn’t seem to be any other possible explanation.

  4. Going past many of the established businesses of the Panamanian people, the Gov’t is taking control and expansion and getting — out of Panama — into “expansion”. My heart goes out to the people of Panama, their lifestyles and the reason we moved here. The huge trees here for generations are being cut down and I don’t believe the “road expansion” would be in the best interest of Panamanian people. Another Country being lost.

  5. Why interest in “expansion” and not even thinking about the water supply, whether here in David or Panama City????

  6. Good question Charlotte…….whats more important than water besides the lack of it? Seems to me a few passing lanes would have done the job….the main problem is between Dolega and David…….They could have even gone around Algarobos and Dolega and then reconnected….would be interested to know who got the job…….anybody know?

  7. A Panamanian friend in Alto Boquete has a bulldozer parked in front of the pedestrian gate to her front yard. Seems her property is fenced 25 meters from the highway, which was the law when her house was built. The company assigned the expansion project told her the government owned all land 30 meters from the Interamerican Hwy and they were going to tear down her fence and pave five meters into her front yard. She chose to fight it after verifying that (a) the Boquete road isn’t part of the Interamerican Highway and (b) the law when her home was built said she needed to be 25 meters from the road, and she’s compliant. She was granted a staying order againist tearing down her fence, but things haven’t been finalized. Seems the municipality and the Alto Boquete neighborhoods are supporting her, which is a good sign. It’s just worrisome all the way around….

  8. We do not need to stand by and watch this happen. We cannot keep succumbing to the conditioning we’ve received over the last decades and allow “big business” to keep using “development” bank loans (our money!) to feed our own destruction.

    If we sincerely care about our ability to breathe, drink, eat and live (HERE or ANYwhere!) each of us should harness the internet today (‘Like’, link or ‘tweet’ articles like http://thegazette.com/2009/11/01/panama-canal-expansion-buyer-beware/ or DonRay’s blog!), ask questions, and demand accountability – from our Congressmen/politicians/leaders of whatever country we are from, banks and the media – for how global resources are being mis-managed and wasted in Panama by ill-conceived projects, including the expansion, causing uncontrollable and irreversible damage.

    The future is not pretty for property in Chiriquí, nor for the Panama Canal, nor for water or anything else, unless we pipe up now. Unless we (Panamanians and Non-) work to stop this holocaust, we are basically one of its perpetrators… funding it, witnessing it… and its victims, too.

  9. After submitting my earlier comment, I saw Charlotte S’s from today. I was referring to the “expansion” of the canal, but what she is describing — the “expansion” of the road — is another example of the same attitude “project promoters/contract winners” exhibit across Panama right now, ignoring basic rights and overlooking laws. It’s another reason why it’s so urgent to insist that conditions are met by recipients and controls enforced by banks & governments (outside) on the funds unceasingly flowing into Panama as “loans & gifts” from them. Unless we act now, the arrogance we are experiencing — directed towards those without the financial power to fight back indefinitely (i.e. us, the people) — will get worse. And even worse, what is enabling it …ultimately come from our own pockets.

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  11. It makes sad how so little thought is given to what is done in Panama. I am Panamanian and I find counterproductive the so called development taking place. It is easy to judge the criminal actions –if nature and future had a court of law- being committed against this land. At least I find it heartening what is taking place in Cerro Colorado where people aren’t just accepting the “big guys” words and rolling over peacefully.

    Me entristece el crimen que se comete en Panamá donde el futuro y la naturaleza no son respetados. No sabía del canal y que había consecuencias y alternativas que nunca jugaron un papel en la decisión. Por lo menos las personas que pueden ser mas afectadas por el proyecto de Cerro Colorado no aceptan sin oponerse a, lo que probablemente es, otro crimen contra esta tierra.

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