Panama Cuts Canal Traffic Amid Drought

After 110 years in operation, the Panama Canal is running dry. Although the canal connects the world’s two largest oceans, the water supply that operates the locks systems comes from Gatun Lake. The 20-year drought currently afflicting Panama has dropped water levels, forcing Panamanian authorities to slash ship crossings by 36 percent in one of the world’s most important trade routes.

  • The number of ships traversing the canal each day fell from 38 to 24 over the past year.
  • Panama Canal administrators estimate the nation will lose $500 million to $700 million this year.

Vital choke point: The Panama Canal handles 3 percent of world trade and 16 percent of United States trade. A bottleneck would drive up prices around the world.

Roughly 100 million tons of cargo will be affected by the reduced traffic. Many ships will take the longer route around the bottom of South America rather than wait for an opening. That will mean longer waits and increased costs.

Military threat: The drought also has national security implications for the U.S. Since the canal opened in 1914, America has relied on it to move military vessels from its East Coast to its West Coast and vice versa.

But if the canal continues to run dry, America’s 2nd Fleet (headquartered in Virginia) could be sundered from its 3rd Fleet (headquartered in California). This would drastically reduce the number of ships America could quickly send to the Western Pacific to counter any major threat.

National decline: At one time, the English-speaking peoples controlled virtually every maritime choke point on the planet. In his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, the late Herbert W. Armstrong explained that this remarkable fact began with a promise made to the patriarch Abraham.

God promised to give Abraham’s descendants control over the “gates” of their enemies (Genesis 22:17). A gate is a narrow passage of entrance or exit. A “sea gate” is a narrow choke point like the Panama Canal. God gave Britain and America those gates, ensuring they would become superpowers.

But God also warned that if America and Britain did not obey Him, then not only would those sea gates be taken away but they would be used against them (Deuteronomy 28:52). Now both drought and Chinese aggression are making the Panama Canal less useful to America than it has ever been.

Learn more: Read “The Rise and Fall of a Superpower,” by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.