) The much touted modernization of Panama’s Tocumen airport led to a culture of corruption and an explosive growth of crime according to Wikileaks revalations published today (April 7) in Spain.
The airport …central to traffic between Latin America and the United States suffers from problems such as smuggling, money laundering, drug trafficking and large-scale corruption,said reports from theU.S. Embassy to Washington. According to diplomatic cables, published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais the "explosive growth " of crime in Terminal Tocumen caused great concern tothe United States because the Latin American country is a major financial center and a strategic partner for Washington.
"The different agencies of the United States and the Embassy have invested significant resources in the airport and maintain good relations with the Panamanian authorities,but Panama lacks a strategy for addressing the problems of the airport,” says a cable signed by then Ambassador Barbara Stephenson.
The newspaper says that Tocumen is the most important airport in Central America andcrucial for traffic between North and South America, with the passage of more than fivemillion passengers and about 100 thousand tons of goods each year.
One cable said that the modernization of the facilities in 2006, led to "a culture of corruption.”
"The work of police and immigration authoritiesis uncoordinated, and do not havesufficient training to control the growth of the airport, let alone the challenges associated with future passenger growth."
Date Retrieved: April 7, 2011.