Mexico and Central America
Complete issue of Le Grelot, dated December 25, 1892, showing the hand of the French gendarmerie gathering up De Lesseps and the ink of “Panama” falling off the table. The caption reads FINALLY! AND WHO IS NEXT? Some edge tears easily repaired. N
Note: The first attempt to construct a canal through what was then Colombia's province of Panama began on 1 January 1881. The project was inspired by the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was able to raise considerable finance in France as a result of the huge profits generated by his successful construction of the Suez Canal.
The French effort went bankrupt in 1889 after reportedly spending US$287 millionand losing an estimated 22,000 lives to disease and accidents, wiping out the savings of 800,000 investors. Work was suspended on May 15 and in the ensuing scandal, known as the Panama affair, various of those deemed responsible were prosecuted. De Lesseps and his son Charles were found guilty of misappropriation of funds and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, though this was later overturned and the father, at 88, was never imprisoned.