Panama: The 51st State

What would it take for Panama, or just the Canal Zone, to be admitted as the 51st state?

This could be done either through some kind of popular sentiment, or better yet, through some sneaky, underhanded government scheme.

Let's say sometime in the mid 70's, or maybe Carter does not agree to returning the canal zone to Panama, and then some subsequent president hornswaggles it into a new state...
Bright day
Wasn't OTL Panama War quite underhanded? Though I get only secon-hand (reliable) anecdotical evidence.

So how would you deal with the unfriendly population in jungle country (it is jungle country right?)? Plus it could be quite a good PR thing for Soviets. IF actually anybody cared to belief them.
Right, so we have precedent for some sneaky under-handedness.

I am thinking that some sort of major Marxist front thingie crops up in Panama, whose stated goal is to take the canal and return it to the people...This threat could lead to Carter not agreeing to anything.

This group can enjoy some success, maybe things get a little out of hand, and The US has to send lots of troops down there to 1. Secure the zone, and then 2. Smash the Marxists. This is done of course, at the request of a friendly Panama government.

The US troop presence becomes much much larger than OTL....

Jungle warfare is nasty, so the US starts clearing out a lot of jungle. Strip malls and other crap crop up.

The US presence, in order to "help" Panama deal with the evil Marxists, spreads far beyond the zone.

The Panama gov't, of its own free will, by golly, extends a request to the US to become a state.


Well, it has to start with Jimmah not giving away US territory. Noriega doesn't become a drug dealer and the US leaves him alone as long as he leaves the US alone although anyone who crosses into the PCZ is allowed to stay. Over the years, a good portion of Panama's population ends up living in the Zone and when some guy finally shoots that bastard in the 1990's, the refugees go back home but decide they want to continue to live in the US.

A vote is taken, Congress approves, and Panama gets territorial status, later made into a state after the massive project of widening of the canal.