Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has congratulated the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela Rodr??guez, on his country???s centennial celebrations of the opening of the Panama Canal, saying there are opportunities for even stronger ties of trade, investment, travel and culture between the two nations.

In a letter to the President, Mr. Stuart said: ???One hundred years ago, the world welcomed the creation of a Canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, its latest monumental achievement of engineering and ingenuity. The opening of one of the world???s modern wonders then is also significant now, in that its successful bridging of these two oceans endures to this day.???

The Prime Minister stated that for Barbados, the building of the Canal was a bridge out of poverty as tens of thousands of Barbadians, later known as the ???Silvermen???, undertook the task of contributing to its construction and repatriating their hard earned savings to families back home. ???It was a bridge between two nations: one still a colony and the other a young and newly-independent Panama.

The Canal also created bridges built by blood, not only through the sacrifice of workers to disease and danger, but also through undeniable bonds of humanity which grew as families were built, homes were made and two nations were developed,??? he surmised.

In addition to honouring those who worked on the Canal, Mr. Stuart continued: ???We celebrate their legacy of humanity, friendly relations between our nations and opportunities for even stronger ties of trade, investment, travel and culture.???

He reiterated that Barbadians were firm and resolute partners in the construction of the Canal and promised that Barbados would continue to be a firm and resolute partner in the building of the two nations.

The Panama Canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914, with the passage of the cargo ship SS Ancon. The United States spent almost $375 million to finish the project, which was described as the largest American engineering project of that or any previous era.

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