The U. S. Southern Command is again sponsoring the Panama Canal defense exercise event known as Panamax. Seventeen countries, including Costa Rica, are taking part in the training that is taking place across the U.S., including military bases in Jacksonville, Florida, Tuscon, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas.
This annual event focuses on the multinational effort to keep the Panama Canal secure. Three Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas staffers and the public relations head of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública are representing Costa Rica.
Exercises consist of various simulations through air, sea, land, and the Internet that respond to hypothetical threats of violence, natural disasters, and other widespread emergencies involving Panamá and Central America. Costa Rican officials are focused on two key areas through their neighboring role with Panamá and through communication infrastructure that would allow intervention from outside nations in case of a disaster.
The Panama Canal is considered one of the most important infrastructures in the world in terms of economics. Six percent of the world’s trade passes through the canal each year, according to a report from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.
This also happens to be the centennial year for the canal, which was first used on Aug. 15, 1914.