His research interests include Latin American Politics, security studies, and space policy. The History of Panama. Notable People in the History of Panama. Bibliographic Essay. The History of Panama Robert C. Roosevelt's explanation of the US role in the region was made clear throughout many speeches since First, he invoked the Mallarino—Bidlack Treaty; second, he made clear that Colombia had rejected his offers for a deal; and finally, he argued that Colombia had never been able to prevent Panama from gaining sovereignty.
On his December 7, Third Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives, he enumerated an extensive list of interventions the US armed forces had made in Panama since explaining:. The above is only a partial list of the revolutions, rebellions, insurrections, riots, and other outbreaks that have occurred during the period in question; yet they number fifty-three for the fifty-three years In short, the experience of over half a century has shown Colombia to be utterly incapable of keeping order on the Isthmus.
Only the active interference of the United States has enabled her to preserve so much as a semblance of sovereignty. Had it not been for the exercise by the United States of the police power in her interest, her connection with the Isthmus would have been sundered long ago. Treaties like the Bidlack-Mallarino Treaty were considered constitutional and legal, even though they involved US interference in matters of a sovereign country.
The History of Panama
Roosevelt's speeches made clear that the US decided to unilaterally break with the Bidlack-Mallarino treaty and, instead of solving the internal Panamanian problem as the treaty stipulated, helped Panama to separate from Colombia. Thus it enforced only that part of the treaty which was of interest to the US, namely, "it granted the US significant transit rights over the Panamanian isthmus".
Panamanians do not consider themselves former Colombians. They celebrate their independence from Spain on November 28, , and separation from Colombia on November 3, , which is referred to as "Separation Day". The reaction to the treaty in the US was generally positive, public support for building a canal as the treaty effectively guaranteed having already been high. The Panamanian reaction, however, was more mixed. Although the new Panamanian government, led by Manuel Amador, was happy to have its independence from Colombia, they also knew that the US could easily assert itself over them if it felt they were not working in line with its interests.
They had instructed their ambassador, Bunau-Varilla, to not make any agreements with the US that would compromise Panama's new freedom, nor could he make a canal treaty without consulting them. Both of these orders were ignored. By the time the Canal opened in , many Panamanians still questioned the validity of the treaty. The Panama Canal was built by the U. Army Corps of Engineers between and ; the existing kilometer mi.
On January 5, the government of Rafael Reyes in Colombia signed and presented to its Congress a treaty that would officially recognize the loss of its former province, but the treaty was not ratified, due to popular and legislative opposition. Negotiations continued intermittently until a new treaty was signed on December 21, which formally accepted the independence of Panama. Yet, beyond the financial injection to the country's economy and workforce, the changes brought about by the canal venture were largely positive for Panama.
To sanitize the area before and during construction, engineers developed an infrastructure to treat potable water, sewage, and garbage, that encompassed the Canal Zone and the cities of Panama and Colon. Standards in construction, transportation and landscaping for the Canal Zone's urban development during the first half of the 20th century had no parallel in tropical regions in the hemisphere.
William Gorgas used techniques pioneered by Cuban physician Carlos Finley, to rid the area of yellow fever between and Gorgas' work in the sanitation of the Canal Zone and the cities of Panama and Colon eventually made him sought after internationally. From until , Panama was a republic dominated by a commercially oriented oligarchy. During the s, the Panamanian military began to challenge the oligarchy's political hegemony.
The January 9, Martyrs' Day riots escalated tensions between the country and the US government over its long-term occupation of the Canal Zone. Twenty rioters were killed, and other Panamanians were wounded. In October , Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid was elected president for the third time. Twice ousted by the Panamanian military, he was ousted again as president by the National Guard after only 10 days in office. A military junta government was established, and the commander of the National Guard, Brig. Omar Torrijos , emerged as the principal power in Panamanian political life. Torrijos implemented a populist policy, with the inauguration of schools and the creation of jobs, the redistribution of agricultural land which was his government's most popular measure.
The reforms were accompanied by a major public works programme. It also faces North American multinationals, demanding wage increases for workers and redistributing , hectares of uncultivated land. In February , following OPEC's model for oil, it attempted to form the Union of Banana Exporting Countries with the other Central American States to respond to the influence of these multinationals, but did not obtain their support.
Its policy promotes the emergence of a middle class and the representation of indigenous communities. These treaties also granted the US a perpetual right of military intervention. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening years. Torrijos died in a mysterious plane crash on August 1, The circumstances of his death generated charges and speculation that he was assassinated.
Torrijos' death changed the tone but not the direction of Panama's political evolution. Despite constitutional amendments in , which appeared to proscribe a political role for the military, the Panama Defense Forces PDF continued to dominate political life behind a facade of civilian government. By then, General Manuel Noriega was firmly in control of both the PDF and the civilian government, and had created the Dignity Battalions to help suppress opposition.
Despite undercover collaboration with US president Ronald Reagan on his Contra war in Nicaragua including the Iran-Contra Affair , to deliver arms and drugs by airplane, relations between the United States and Panama worsened in the s.
In response to a domestic political crisis and an attack on the US embassy, the US froze economic and military aid to Panama in the summer of Tensions sharpened in February when Noriega was indicted in US courts for drug-trafficking. In April , Reagan invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act , freezing Panamanian Government assets in US banks, withholding fees for using the canal, and prohibiting payments by US agencies, firms, and individuals to the Noriega regime.
The country went into turmoil. National elections of May were marred by accusations of fraud from both sides. Panamanian authorities arrested American Kurt Muse who had set up an installation to jam Panamanian radio and broadcast phony election returns.
However, the election proceeded and Guillermo Endara won by a margin of over three-to-one over Noriega. The Noriega regime promptly annulled the election, citing massive US interference, and embarked on new repression. Foreign observers including the Catholic Church and Jimmy Carter certified Endara's electoral victory despite widespread attempts at fraud by the regime. At the request of the US, the Organization of American States convened a meeting of foreign ministers but was unable to obtain Noriega's departure.
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The US began sending thousands of troops to bases in the canal zone. Panamanian authorities alleged that US troops left their bases and illegally stopped and searched vehicles in Panama.
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An American Marine got lost in the former French quarter of Panama City, ran a roadblock, and was killed by Panamanian Police which was a part of the Panamanian Military. By autumn the regime was barely clinging to power. On December 20, US troops began an invasion of Panama.
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They achieved their objectives and began withdrawal on December The US was obligated to return control of the Canal to Panama on January 1 due to a treaty signed decades before. Endara was sworn in as President at a US military base on the day of the invasion. Noriega is now serving a year sentence for drug trafficking. The US estimated the civilian death toll at , while the UN estimated civilians dead and Americas Watch put the civilian death toll at Bush announced a billion dollars in aid to Panama.
In the morning of December 20, , hours after the invasion started, the presumptive winner of the May election, Guillermo Endara, was sworn in as president of Panama at a US military installation in the Canal Zone. President Endara took office as the head of a four-party minority government, pledging to foster Panama's economic recovery, transform the Panamanian military into a police force under civilian control , and strengthen democratic institutions. During its 5-year term, the Endara government struggled to meet the public's high expectations.
Its new police force proved to be a major improvement in outlook and behavior over its thuggish predecessor but was not fully able to deter crime. In , he would have received 2. He ran as the candidate for a three-party coalition dominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party PRD , the erstwhile political arm of the military dictatorship during the Torrijos and Norieiga years. Language English. Creator Harding, Robert C. Other Creators Harding, Robert C. Series The Greenwood histories of the modern nations, The Greenwood histories of the modern nations Greenwood histories of the modern nations Subjects Panama -- History.
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Electronic books. Summary Annotation. Panamanian history is replete with explicit or tacit domination by others.
Related The History of Panama (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
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