Thursday, Jun 24, 2021

New Book By Panamanian Author

Panamanian author, Michael J. Merry has recently published a new collection of short stories under the title “Waters of the Chagres”

"Waters of the Chagres (and five other tales). The book title relates to the story of a cache of arms the US Army left behind in Panama when they finally handed over the last the the US assets there in 1999. Mr. Merry has written nine earlier books. These day's he's retired and along with his wife, lives in Miami Shores, Florida. In October, 2017, Mill City Press announced that Michael J. Merry had been honored with an award in the "Action/Adventure" category of their annual authors writing competition for his work, "Galleon, and seven other tales".

‘Waters of the Chagres’ delves into a much discussed story about the US exit from the Republic.

Ever since the United States finally handed over their remaining Canal Zone assets to the Republic of Panamá, at noon, on December 31st, 1999, there has been a persistent rumor that the United States Army, failed to pack, and ship back to America, 500 M16 automatic rifles, and instead, hid the weapons somewhere in what was described as ‘the Old Canal Zone’.

Over the years, many people have claimed to know what actually happened to these guns. Some said they were buried and then later, dug up and sold. Others have expressed a willingness, in return for a considerable amount of money naturally, to provide a map to the burial site. Yet another group swears no such guns ever existed. None of these stories has ever been proven true and the mystery continues to exist.

What then, is the truth about these weapons?, (if indeed there were any) Who could possibly know the true story?
The explanation given in this story ‘Water from the Chagres’ is feasible, and rather simple. It’s just a matter of two people who were involved, meeting twenty years later and talking over some things that took place in 1999. Once this happened, a series of events unfolded that they say, took the guns out of Panamá, leaving every other rumor without a valid base.

This story was related to me during a long, lazy weekend at Playa Sirena, in Coronado, and has certain elements of truth that are undeniable. For one, It’s a matter of record (‘Sea-Waves’ the Colombian Navy Magazine, February 2020) that a Colombian Corvette, of the Pohang class, sunk a freighter, suspected of carrying arms from Panama, at the entrance of the Jurado river on January 23rd, 2020. However, one truth doesn’t mean that the stories will vanish. We know that as long as the waters of the Chagres flow, rumormongers will bounce easily from one theory to another. Perhaps, in a year or so, there will be another tale circulating?

The short story, which contains the whole tale of the guns, is featured in 'Waters of the Chagres' and is available on Amazon and other literary sites as well as bookshops. There are an additional five stories contained in the book. ‘Just another River’ is the tale of the crash of an aircraft carrying used U.S. currency, in the Brazil jungle and how it was eventually recovered. ‘Cold, Colder, Coldest’ tells of an American soldier, who was erroneously imprisoned and how he righted this wrong. ‘All That Glitters’ explains how a military aide became rich by exploiting a careless mistake at a gold mine. Finally, ‘Escape and Emeralds’ tells of the kidnapping and escape of a hostage held by rebels in Colombia.

This is an exciting collection of stories that reaches below the surface of everyday life and brings into the open, stories previously hidden.

Michael J. Merry was educated at the Royal Liberty School, Essex, United Kingdom. He trained for two years with ITT in London and became a Telecommunications Instructor.

In 1959, he was sent to the Republic of Panama to assist with the upgrade of the entire Latin American telecommunications system. In 1964, he became Assistant Manager of ITT Standard Electric (Caribbean).

On the evening of October 10th 1968, the Panama National Guard revolted and overthrew the elected Government. That night Merry was the driver of the escape vehicle which rescued the President and three of Ministers of State and took then from a secret location in the Republic, to safety in the Canal Zone.. The knowledge of his exploit reached ITT Headquarters and he was terminated from his job.

He was then recruited by a Panamanian consortium to run a national telecommunications company. He eventually negotiated the sale of this asset to the Panamanian Government in 1975. He then re-located to Puerto Rico taking over as General Manager (Caribbean) for the joint venture between Cable and Wireless and Western Union International. While there he was contracted to host the early show for WOSO the Islands only English radio station.

He later returned to Panama and in 1987 became Division Vice President of a major, U.S. based, international financial and political news operation. His responsibility covered the Caribbean and Latin America. He traveled extensively during the following years, opening regional offices in twelve countries. He was in Argentina when the Army revolted in 1987 and Venezuela during the attempted coup by Lt. Colonel (later President) Hugo Chávez in 1992. In 1988, he moved the company headquarters to Miami after the Noriega regime made it difficult to fund operations in Panama. He started to write two, nationally televised financial programs weekly, and editing a popular monthly financial report. In January, 2021, a new collection of short stories was released.


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