POPULATION:
3,680,702

LITERACY RATE:
57%
SELF DEFENSE FORCES:
Panamanian Public Forces, Independent Canal Military Forces,
LANGUAGES:
Spanish, English (high bilinguil rate)
ETHNIC GROUPS:
mestizo  70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
BORDERING COUNTRIES:
Columbia, Costa Rica
PANAMA - This country is the geographical equivalent of a shoe-string held taught between two anvils.  Geographically, Panama's only importance, is that it is home to the Panama Canal, since most of the rest of the country is impenetrable jungle.  After financing the Canals construction, The U.S. continued to protect it militarily until Presidente General Manuel Noriega, a puppet dictator originally put in power by the US, went rogue and siezed the zone by force.  Noriega was the victim of a power struggle between american intelligence agencies.  The CIA considered him their most valuable intelligence agent in the region, while the DEA actively pursued him as a criminal.  When he learned of an assassination plot by the DEA back BNDD, he switched sides, withdrawing all support for the U.S. operations in Nicaragua and El Salvador.  The final straw came in 1989 when after a scandalous election Noriega propped up Franciso Rodriguez as the new president despite the overwhelming victory for his opponent Guillermo Endara.  This, in adddition to the role Noriega played in the Iran-Contra scandal (when the White House illegally, covertly, and consistently endeavored to protect elements of the cocaine-smuggling network, dominated by the Medellin Cartel, because this network rendered invaluable logistic and monetary support in the secret war against the Sandinistas of Nicaragua) left the US anxious and desperate to cover any and all tracks of complicity.  The US announced its support of Endara, in retribution Noriega troops intercepted Endara on his way to the inaugeration.  The US immediately placed severe sanctions on Panama.  Noriega retaliated by overtaking the Panama Canal by force.  He was aided and influenced by the drug Cartels from the southern countries anxious to use the canal in their smuggling operations.  This event led to the Start of the first Central American Conflict.   While the U.S. was able to retake the Canal Zone quickly, insurgent activety continued to be a problem throughout the war.  The genetically engineered Bioplague wiped out most of the coca plants in Columbia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and Boliva, nearly negating all of the cartels funding, faced with no support, Panamanian forces in opposition to the US retreated into Colombia, or simply returned to their former lives.

However the U.S.A.'s hold on the zone was tentative.  The one two punch of the Columbians nuking Manhattan in december of 93 and the collapse of the United States economy in 1996 caused all US military forces to withdraw from the area, and the canal (and its defense) was left manned by  a small military contingent
and a skeleton crew of civilian contractors who chose to stay behind rather than return to the chaos that was America at the time.  The majority of the defense and maintenence of the canal was handed over to the Panamanians, the American forces that stayed behind acted more as an advisory group than anything else.  

While the U.S. recovered, the Panamanian government quickly found itself spending far more on defending the canal than it could handle, and the Canal soon found itself in disrepair.  This added to the fact that the Canal was now bleeding money due to the fact that Post-Panamax class superships were to large to travel through the canal was quickly bankrupting the country.  A controversial plan was developed to widen the Canal, and In 1999 they again turned to the United States for Funding.  The U.S., suffering a major draught at home, and desperate for imported crops agreed, once again retaking military control of the Canal and investing 72 billion dollars into the Canals expansion.  Work begins immediately.

In 2003 the U.S., still bitter over the Cent-Am Conflict, and faced with a resurgence of drug importation due to the new strain of virus resistant cocaine (Synthcoke), again goes to war in South America and invades Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, and Venzuela.  Expansion of the Canal continues throughout the War, until utterly bankrupt the US withdraws from the Second South American war in defeat and humilation in 2010.  The Long Walk begins as thousands of U.S. contractors and recon teams, unable to be extracted, are left behind to fend for themselves.  Most survivors of the Long Walk make their way back to the U.S., but some renounce the U.S. completely and take roots wherever they can.  The most famous of these is of course Jonathan Meta, who along with his men overtake several offshore refineries and form MetaCorp.  However of lesser fame is a large group of mercenaries led by Colonel Jonas Pike.  Reinforced by others left behind, this group, known collectively as Pikes Raiders, took over the abandoned Canal defenses.  In their retreat and subsequent confusion, the U.S. had left all the Military supplies and defenses fully stocked during the withdrawal.  Pike and his men dug in and assumed complete control of the Canal.  The Panamanian government, still deeply entrenched in the expansion process had neither the resources, or military clout to do anything but go along with this. 

This left a new problem.  The canal was in the hands of mercenaries, and the U.S. funding for the expansion project, now nearly 80% complete, came to an abrupt and complete stop.  Panama, unable to to continue construction, and with growing hostility between the government and the mercenaries, begins actively seeking new funding for the project.  The EEC, anxious to provide another slap in the face to the americans, agrees to meet with both the Panamanian goverment officials, and Colonel Pike, leader of the mercenaries.  In a monumental agreement, the EEC agrees to fund the canals completion, as well as arranging an agreement with Pike and the Panamanian Govt. to elgitimize the mercenaries as the Independent Canal Military Forces.  The EEC also agrees to resupply and equip the ICMF, making them the largest and most well equipped military force in central america.  Seeking employment, thousands of former south american rebels and independent merc groups hire one with the ICMF.

In a controversial move in late 2019, the ICMF (influenced by the EEC) closes the Canal to all US bound ships, forcing them to reroute all the way around South America.  Furious the US attempts negotiations for 6 months, until finally they have had enough and declare war on the ICMF.  This event, in conjunction with ever increasing drug importation from South America leads directly into the Third South American Conflict.

Fotrunately, not everything in Panama revolves around the Canal, and outside the canal area life continues much as it always has in the country. 

The Colón Free Trade Zone, the largest free trading area in the americas, and second largest in the world, continues to operate.  Located on the Atlantic entrance to the canal, this area is divided into two halves.  A large portion of Colón, segregated from the city itself by a wall; and the other in the France Field area, which is designated for warehouses covering 160 acres and at a distance of only 400 yards from the Colón commercial sector.  In the wake of worldwide economic shifting and the domination of corporate entities, this free zone has even fewer restrictions than ever before.  And is the frequent subject of protests from every concerned group from environmentalists to human rights advocates.  Corporate giants exploit this area and you can find virtually anything here.  The Free Trade Zone polices itself, providing a virtual open ground for products free from international labor, environmental, and pollution laws.  But be warned, while the law is virtually non-existant, and anything from cheap shoes to human slaves and organ can be purchased here, any disruption of commerce, and threat to stability, or any incursion which could damage the safe haven itself is dealt with immediately and permanently.  There are no prisons or jails here, if that tells you anything.

The jungles of Panama are so dense, that it is thought there are still tribes located there that have never seen white men.  These jungles, especially now during times of conflict, are safe havens to forces allied with the cartels who can hit hard before retreating back into the bush where no vehicles can give chase.  Only the most skilled special forces teams can operate here with any possibility of survival. 

Most of the smaller towns in Panama consist of little more than shanties, which may only last as long as they can withstand the the next rainy season.  The poverty level in this country, especially in the rural areas has skyrocketed.  And while the areas around the canal benefitted from the employment the expansion project created, since it was completed Panama has once again fallen under hard times.

In contrast to this is Panama City, located just east of the Canal, a bustling metropolis as modern as any of its north American or European counterparts.  A haven of wealth and prosperity beset on all sides by abject poverty.

Panama has no standing military, instead it has a huge and often corrupt police force (PPF "Panamanian Public Forces") relegated to both border defense and crime prevention.  In the past, it has relied on the US Military for defense, but in the aftermath of the two previous conflicts the state of security in the region has grown extremely tentative.  The PPF are under strict orders to offer no support to the ICMF, nor are they allowed to interfere.  This has led to some minor altercations between them, but since the ICMF is much better equipped and trained, the PPF usually back down quickly.  Since the ICMF has no interest in Panama itself, only the canal, and the PPF are underfunded and undertrained, the neighboring countries of Columbia and Costa Rica have slowly begun encroaching on their borders.  Columbia especially has begun setting up large camps hidden in the Panamanian jungles, hoping to reach an agreement for alliance with the ICMF against the US.

With the US military mobilizing against the ICMF, only time will tell whether their presence will bring stability, or throw the entire region into utter upheaval and chaos.


(Written by Deric "D" Bernier and Destecado with assistance from Mike Van Atta, and Citizen X.)