Public education began in Panama soon after it seceded from Colombia in 1903. The first efforts were guided by an extremely paternalistic view of the goals of education, as evidenced in comments made in a 1913 meeting of the First Panamanian Educational Assembly, "The cultural heritage given to the child should be determined by the social position he will or should occupy. For this reason education should be different in accordance with the social class to which the student should be related." This elitist focus changed rapidly under US influence.[82]
A project to build a third set of locks for the Panama Canal A was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum (with low voter turnout, however) on October 22, 2006. The official estimated cost of the project is US$5.25 billion, but the canal is of major economic importance because it provides millions of dollars of toll revenue to the national economy and provides massive employment. Transfer of control of the Canal to the Panamanian government completed in 1999, after 85 years of US control.
Two men linked to Fidentia, a South African asset management company that looted 1.2 billion rand[476] from pension funds meant to provide for 46,000 widows and orphans of mineworkers,[477] had accounts with Mossack Fonseca, which was willing to help hide the money even after South Africa made their names public.[477] The former chief executive of Fidentia, J. Arthur Brown, was sentenced in 2014 to concurrent 15-year sentences.[477] The FBI arrested one man, Steven Goodwin, in Los Angeles in 2008. Sent back to South Africa, Goodwin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud and money laundering.[478] The other, Graham Maddock, was also later jailed in South Africa for fraud.
The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC.
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