Panama–United States relations
On November 4, 1903, the immediate support of the USA secured the Declaration of Independence of Panama from Colombia. In return, Panama signed the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty three weeks later, granting the USA sovereign rights over the interoceanic canal that would be built the following year.
The evolution of the relation between Panama and the USA has followed the pattern of a Panamanian project for the recovering of the territory of the Canal of Panama, project which become public after the events of January 9, 1964, known in Panama as the Martyrs' Day (Panama), in which a riot over the right to raise the Panamanian flag in an American school in the vicinity of the Panama Canal.
The following years saw a lengthy negotiation process, culminating with the Torrijos–Carter Treaties in which the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama was set to be completed in December 1999. The process of transition, however, was made difficult by the existence of the de facto military rule of Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama from 1982 to 1989.
The 1977 Panama Canal Treaties entered into force on October 1, 1979. They replaced the 1903 Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty between the United States and Panama (modified in 1936 and 1955), and all other U.S.-Panama agreements concerning the Panama Canal, which were in force on that date. The treaties comprise a basic treaty governing the operation and defense of the Canal from October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1999 (Panama Canal Treaty) and a treaty guaranteeing the permanent neutrality of the Canal (Neutrality Treaty).
The details of the arrangements for U.S. operation and defense of the Canal under the Panama Canal Treaty are spelled out in separate implementing agreements. The Canal Zone and its government ceased to exist when the treaties entered into force and Panama assumed complete jurisdiction over Canal Zone territories and functions, a process which was finalized on December 31, 1999.
On December 20, 1989, in order to arrest Manuel Noriega, the United States invaded Panama. The military intervention helped to swear into power the winners of the elections of May 1989, President Guillermo Endara.
The History of the Relations between Panama and the USA are a mandatory course in the curriculum of Public High School in Panama. 2
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2009)|
The United States cooperates with the Panamanian government in promoting economic, political, security, and social development through U.S. and international agencies. Cultural ties between the two countries are strong, and many Panamanians come to the United States for higher education and advanced training. In 2007, the U.S. and Panama partnered to launch a regional health worker training center. The center provides training to community healthcare workers in Panama and throughout Central America. About 25,000 American citizens reside in Panama, many retirees from the Panama Canal Commission and individuals who hold dual nationality. There is also a rapidly growing enclave of American retirees in the Chiriquí Province in western Panama.
Panama continues to fight against the illegal narcotics and arms trade. The country's proximity to major cocaine-producing nations and its role as a commercial and financial crossroads make it a country of special importance in this regard. The Panamanian Government has concluded agreements with the U.S. on maritime law enforcement, counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, and stolen vehicles. A three-year investigation by the Drug Prosecutors Office (DPO), the PTJ, and several other law enforcement agencies in the region culminated in the May 2006 arrest in Brazil of Pablo Rayo Montano, a Colombian-born drug crime boss. Assets located in Panama belonging to his drug cartel were among those seized by the Government of Panama following his indictment by a U.S. federal court in Miami. In March 2007, the U.S. Coast Guard, in cooperation with the Government of Panama seized over 38,000 lbs. of cocaine off the coast of Panama, the largest drug seizure in the eastern Pacific.
In the economic investment arena, the Panamanian government has been successful in the enforcement of intellectual property rights and has concluded a Bilateral Investment Treaty Amendment with the United States and an agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Although money laundering remains a problem, Panama passed significant reforms in 2000 intended to strengthen its cooperation against international financial crimes.
The U.S. Embassy in Panama is in Panama City. In 1938 the site in Avenida Balboa was leased from the Government of Panama for 99 years. The chancery building was constructed under the supervision of the Foreign Buildings Office of the Department of State in 1941. The total cost of the land and construction was $366,719. The first diplomatic mission of the United States of America in the Republic of Panama was established in 1904, the year after Panama achieved independence from Colombia on November 3, 1903. The first American Minister was William L. Buchanan of Covington, Ohio. The American Legation was for many years located at the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street. It was raised to the status of Embassy in 1939 and moved to its current location on April 2, 1942. The United States first established a consular office in Panama in 18233 when Panama was a department of Colombia. It became a Consulate General on September 3, 1884 and was combined with the Embassy on April 6, 1942. Earliest available records of the Consulate date from 1910 when the Consulate was located in the Diario de Panama Building near the Presidential Palace. It was then moved to the Marina Building across from the Presidential Palace. It subsequently moved to several other buildings in Panama City, before coming to its current location in Building 783, Clayton. There is also a virtual post in Colon.
Panama maintains an embassy in Washington, D.C..
Wilson C. Lucom, an American expatriate, died in Panama in June 2006 leaving an estate valued at approximately $50 million. Under his last will and testament, the bulk of his estate was left in trust for the benefit of the impoverished children of Panama. However, Lucom's third wife, Hilda Piza Arias, the matriarch of a powerful Panamanian family, challenged the validity of the bequest and sought claim to the entire estate. Her attempt to set aside Mr. Lucom's generous bequest spawned a contentious litigation between Ms. Arias and Richard Lehman, an American attorney named in the last will and testament as the administrator of the estate. The ensuing litigation has shined a spotlight on the pervasive corruption within the Panamanian legal system. Importantly, a number of U.S. citizens involved in the proceedings, and Mr. Lehman in particular, have systematically and routinely been deprived basic human rights. This treatment of U.S. citizens in Panama has frustrated Panama's efforts to conclude a trade agreement with the United States.45
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes). (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2030.htm#relations)
- http://panama.usembassy.gov/panama/about.html (This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.)
- Mellander, Gustavo A.(1971) The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
- Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
- U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
- REPORT posted July 12, 2010 from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), Hungry for Justice: Corrupt Courts in Panama Deny Impoverished Children $50 Million in Inheritance
- Public Documents on this case: http://www.lucompublicdocuments.com
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- History of Panama - U.S. relations
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