Panama opened the long-delayed expansion of its shipping canal on Sunday with just a dozen of the 70 heads of state invited to see the debut of the third set of locks attending the ceremony. Gavino Garay reports.
This drone's perspective of the recently-expanded Panama Canal shows just how large a ship the canal can handle. Chinese container ship "Cosco Shipping Panama" is the first to cross the roughly 50-mile-long waterway from Atlantic to Pacific. Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Quijano. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ADMINISTRATOR OF PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY, JORGE QUIJANO, SAYING: "The Panama Canal, 102 years ago, connected two oceans. Today it connects the present and the future." As for the pomp and circumstance on the ground... the turnout wasn't what organizers had hoped for, just a dozen of the 70 heads of state invited to the grand opening were in attendance. Still, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela declared the canal's expansion a national victory. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT JUAN CARLOS VARELA, SAYING: "I ask all who are present to raise the only flag that will fly forever over this canal. The flag of Panama. With great pride. God bless Colon. God bless the Panamanian people. Thank you, all." The $5.4 billion project led by Spanish and Italian companies is expected to triple the canal's capacity -- already host to 98 percent of global shipping.