Leadership on The World Stage

Buffoonery on the world stage is an unfortunate blip in world history, which hopefully the world will survive as it has in the past. Geographically, at the center of the world is the tiny country of Panama. The great liberator of most of Latin America, Simon Bolivar, once said that if the world were to have a capital it would be Panama.

This morning CNN led with a story, breaking news, that China wants to become the world power. And this is news? Come on folks! It’s obvious that the U.S., Russia, and China are all vying to to be the world power. If we learn anything from history it is that things always change and nothing lasts forever. World powers come and go. Some focus on the past and others leverage the past to focus on the future.


China is quietly investing in projects that will position it to be the world power of the future. Whether or not the Nicaragua Canal ever materializes as a functioning entity or not, it is one block in China’s plan. Panama has now given up its recognition of Taiwan, which although remaining closely aligned with Taiwan, officially recognizes The Peoples Republic of China, which happens the be the second largest customer of the Panama Canal [The US is the biggest customer]. Less than ten months into this new relationship with China, Panama is signing a flurry of agreements for cooperation, including feasibility studies for a China-financed high speed train between Panama City and Chiriqui, and the construction of a new Chinese super port that will facilitate increased trade taking advantage of the now-expanded Panama Canal. For the record, Panama doesn’t just talk about infrastructure, but produces … the expanded Panama Canal; the now 4-lane Pan American Highway through Panama; the Panama City Metro with one line operating [35 cents a ride!!], line two nearing completion, and line three in the planning stage; soon to be three new stunning bridges across the Panama Canal linking the continents; Tocumen International expansion moving toward completion that will more than double the capacity of “The Hub of The Americas, and the list goes on!

In this fascinating interview with the President of tiny Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, he talks about Panama’s new relationship with China, and offers a careful, thought-out, intelligent view of Panama’s role at the center of the interconnected global trade.

Varela references the Summit of The Americas in Panama which provided the opportunity to begin the dialogue between President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro, opening the door for U.S. citizens to visit our next-door neighbor. Since I will be returning for a third season cruising around Cuba in a few months, I’m very interested in what happens in Cuba and the U.S. relationship with Cuba, which has deteriorated post-Obama. Cuba needs everything. And there is this enormous vacuum in Cuba. There are three logical players to fill that vacuum: the U.S., China, and Russia. All the beautiful new tourist buses in Cuba – with rest rooms that actually work! – are Chinese. China is building a much-needed new cruise terminal in Havana [and by the way China, Panama City could use a cruise terminal as well]. Right now Russia is meeting with Cuba developing strategies for cooperation. The U.S. struggles to turn back the clock, obliterate any progress that was made by Obama, and continue a failed policy which hasn’t worked and won’t work. We sit back and let China and Russia have their way with our next-door neighbors.

Another Side of Panama

Here’s a side of Panama you may not know about … and one of the most incredible surfing shots ever, taken right here … in Panama!

Panama Surf

That shot was used for the cover of SURFER magazine and here’s the back story about the wave, the guy, and the shot.  There are many aspects of Panama that are totally unexpected by many folks.  So, there’s a reason why at the baggage claim area in Tocumen International you see all these guys retrieving their way oversized surf boards.

Happy May!

It’s been a good couple of weeks.  God is in his heaven and in control.  Whew!  Miquel Canel-Diaz is now the duly-appointed, as opposed to duly-elected, President of Cuba, being described as “Castro’s boy” with Raul still pulling the strings as the head of the Cuban Communist Party which runs the show.  Trump has been amazingly Tweet-restrained, sucking up to his friends on Fox, and perhaps, just perhaps, keeping his head low.  No?  Well, whatever.  Stormy is still stripping.  North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is showing us his softer side, switching from threatening nuclear anililation to making nice with South Korea.  But, rejoice, God is in his heaven and in control.

So it has been wonderful being home.  The rainy season is coming, which I love since there is no better excuse for falling asleep in the hammock while reading  than “It’s raining.”

CARIB PRIN New LocksUnfortunately half of the stuff I want to see online blocks me by saying “Content not available in your location.”  Yes, I’ve tried HideMyAss and a few others, but they don’t work since since Netflix figured out to automatically forces you into Panama Netflix which only features movies that were old when they were shown on United five years ago.  Thankfully I have a friend, Jason Bell, who has been a guest on several ships that I’ve worked who tells me that the two TV shows on which I filmed a cameo walk on role last fall have now aired!  So, although I haven’t seen them watch them and let me know [richarddetrich@yahoo.com] if I should keep my day job, which is being retired, or move back to Southern California.  The Voyager with Josh Garcia, neat guy by the way, on ABC.  After the fifth take for a 40 second shot, he told me that hosting the show was a better way to make a living than waiting tables in LA.   The show actually features a visit to my Embera friends’ village at Embera Puru.  The other is Vacation Creation, also on ABC.  Both were filmed last fall when I took CARIBBEAN PRINCESS through the new expanded locks of the Panama Canal.  It was the largest cruise ship to go through the Canal.  So if anyone figures a way to email me a copy of the shows, or even a few screen shots, I’d appreciate it.

Aside from just being home, and eating whatever we can scrounge up, in my grubbies, beside the fire with my wife, I’ve been working ont he finishing touches of my book on cruising Canada/New England, to go along with the ones on Cuba and the Great Lakes.

I have a new assignment to do a 10-night Grand New England Cruise on the brand new American Cruise Lines ship AMERICAN CONSTITUTION sailing roundtrip from Boston to Camden, Bar Harbor, Rockland, Boothbay Harbor, Portland, Gloucester, Newport and Provincetown.  It’s a Lobsterbake Cruise which features a lobsterbake ashore and tons of lobster on the menu … and me, deathly allergic to shellfish.  But don’t feel bad because when I could eat shellfish, I consumed far more than my fair share of clams and lobster.  Fortunately Nikki gets to come along with me and she has promised to eat all of my lobster allotment.  So I’m busy updating some talks, and creating others.