During a Fort Lauderdale town hall last week, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) warned his constituents about “serious threats to our country,” including Iran and Hezbollah. However, one of the examples West used repeatedly, was not just overblown; it was demonstrably untrue.
Warning the crowd about the economic and national security dangers that China poses to the United States, West declared – twice – that “China is in control of the Panama Canal”:
WEST: I had the opportunity to go down to the United States southern command which is headquartered in Miami, Florida. There is a huge threat coming up out of South America through Central America, through Mexico, and into the United States. Iran is in South America. Hezbollah is in South America. I already talked about how China is in control of the Panama Canal. And even about 50 miles away from here in the Bahamas, building a port there. You know, there is some serious threats to our country.
The notion that China controls the Panama Canal is patently false. The United States handed control of the canal over to Panama on December 31, 1999 and it has remained in Panamanian hands ever since. This false claim was even debunked by the conservative news outlet Newsmax back in 2006. In fact, rather than owning the Panama Canal, China is currently proposing a rival railroad in Colombia that would allow goods to bypass the canal.
West is certainly no stranger to outlandish statements. He made a name for himself over the past year with comments like endorsing the censorship of news agencies that “enabled” Wikileaks, arguing that nobody is getting laid off in Washington D.C., saying that liberal women are “neutering American men,” and calling President Obama a “low level Socialist agitator.”