CHAPTER 21Colombia: Keystone of Latin America

While Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Panama offered fascinating and disturbing studies, they also stood out as exceptions to the rule. Due to vast oil deposits in the first two and the Canal in the third, they did not fit the norm. Colombia’s situation was more typical, and MAIN was the designer and lead engineering firm on a huge hydroelectric project there.

A Colombian college professor writing a book on the history of Pan-American relations once told me that Teddy Roosevelt had appreciated the significance of his country. Pointing at a map, the U.S. president and former Rough Rider reportedly described Colombia as “the keystone to the arch of South America.” I have never verified that story; however, ...

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