I’ve been following the passionate political campaign between Barak Obama and John McCain for a while. As a Panamanian, I find it inspirational how each side juggles strategy and marketing while trying not to be dishonest to each side’s profound beliefs. But suddenly, in the middle of all these deep thoughts, it struck me. And I laughed. Panama, this small, petite country has a way of getting in the middle of giants and become a crucial participant in the world’s most important events.
Let me explain. Under the law of “Six Degrees Separation”, Panama is of course related to the entire world. According to scientific research, by closing the gap between North America and South America it allowed for warm waters to bounce up to Europe and melt, and therefore allow life in what is today France and the European Coast. I’m not making this up, this is a scientific fact. Ask scientists at Smithsonian. They’ve been studying this forever. So, as French claim to be the cradle of civilization, Panama might claim to be the geological cradle for France.
As if this wasn´t enough, Panama gets itself in the middle of the most exciting presidential race in US history by the simple fact that one of the candidates parents happen to have sex in Panama back in 1939. Think about it. What were the chances? Panama’s population is not even a sneeze compared to United States population. From all those people, there are a limited number who would run for political positions. Statistically, even less get to be Senators. And the chances for this person to run for President are quite small. But to run for one of the main candidates! That is simply incredible.
But what is even more entertaining is to think what John McCain parent’s life most have been in Panama back in 1935. And the reason I go back is because recently a Panamanian group put up a historic database online with amazing originals and articles back from colonial days. You can read first hand newspapers as back as 1930´s. So, on top of my affirmation of “John McCain’s parents had sex in Panama” (yeah, I know, it was the “Canal Zone” by then, so he might dispute whether it was United States territory) I an going to say that at some point the chances where quite high that the McCains actually had sex in Casco Viejo.
Here´s my theory: Back in 1930´s life in Panama was very simple. The Canal Zone was running as usual, and Panama City consisted only of Casco Viejo. There wasn’t much more other than the countryside. Places like Paitilla, Costa del Este and further where cattle pasture. Bella Vista was where the wealthy would have their country mansions. It was really different, check out the photo above. It was so basic, that the military had cinemas inside their camps; they had bowling, restaurants and other entertainment areas. But they often got bored and went into Casco Viejo, especially Santa Ana, to have a good time. The database shows several articles advertising “cantinas” or bars, discos, elegant places side by side with the not so elegant. Business was so good even my grandfather ran one of them; it was called “Cantina Nueva York” (or New York Bar). So, as a young soldier with his wife, visiting Casco Viejo wouldn’t be unusual. And splurging for a romantic night in one of the fancy hotels that then dotted the Casco Viejo? Why not?
And that’s where I laughed. Because I have decided to choose to believe that John McCain was born in the Canal Zone but “assembled” in Casco Viejo. Just like my dad. In Panama, that practically make us relatives!