Quick victory against Spain in the Spanish-American War yields four ports to U.S.: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam. [1]


Nov.20-Dec.4 - U.S. troops used to protect U.S. property and to keep transit lines open. [1]


Sept.17-Nov.18 - U.S. troops used to keep the railroad open. [1]


A U.S. military show of force facilitates Panama's breakaway from Colombia in November. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty is then negotiated for the building of a canal. U.S. troops become a permanent presence. [1]


Extra U.S. troops to prevent insurrection during elections. [1]

Meanwhile, U.S. policy undermines and weakens the national army. By this time, no Panamanian could become president without the consent of the U.S. Government. [1]


Extra U.S. troops to prevent insurrection during elections. [1]


Extra U.S. troops to prevent insurrection during elections. In May, the U.S. Government appoints a commission of high-ranking U.S. Army officers to count the votes in June elections. [1]


Panama Canal opens. Conditions are in place for creation of those dialectical opposites, Repression and Resistance. [1]

Oligarchy: land and money for the few; 90 percent are excluded. [1]

Wages: in the Canal Zone U.S. employees receive more than twice the wage that Panamanians receive. [1]

Segregation: a system of apartheid like the Jim Crow laws in U.S. (water fountains were gold for whites and silver for non-whites). [1]

U.S. control of a 10-mile-wide Canal Zone in the middle of the country. [1]


The U.S. Government disarms the national police and takes over basic control of the judiciary, educational, health and public work systems. [1]


Extra U.S. troops to provide police duty at Chiriquí (western Panama) during election disturbances and subsequent unrest. In 1918, President Ciro Urriola postpones the elections, a decree that the U.S. Government considers unconstitutional; the U.S. Government orders the decree revoked and U.S. troops occupy Panama City and Colón. [1]


Major labor strike directed by William Preston Stoute, who is banished from the country. [1]


Oct.12-23 - Extra U.S. troops used to keep order and protect U.S. interests during the tenants' movement (rent strikes). [1]


Kellogg-Alfaro treaty places the Panamanian Army under U.S. control and commits Panama to declaring war against any nation in conflict with the U.S. (Revoked years later.) [1]


U.S. Government is occasionally forced to make concessions. For instance, in exchange for more U.S. military sites outside the Canal Zone on the eve of entering World War II, the U.S. Government cancels some debt, gives monetary compensation for the sites, transfers to Panama certain properties of the Panama Railroad Company and control over the water and sewer systems of Panama City and Colón, grants some jurisdictional control to Panama, etc. [1]


The Filos-Hines agreement is an attempt to extend the presence of the 140 U.S. army military bases used during World War II, but Panamanians eventually force its revocation. [1]


As an example of oligarchic government, during this period there are four presidents all of whom are cousins. [1]


Elected government of Arbenz is overthrown in Guatemala by CIA, increasing understanding of U.S. goals in Latin America. [1]

U.S. Supreme Court passes school desegregation decision. Developing U.S. Civil Rights Movement has profound influence in Panama. [1]


U.S. Government agrees to pay more for Canal expenses; to let Panama collect taxes from employees there excepting U.S. citizens and some others; to restore a little property to Panama. [1]


Campaign demanding equal status for Panamanian language and flag in the Canal Zone. The Eisenhower Administration agrees both flags can fly at a specified place. [1]


January 1 - Cuban Revolution triumphs, profoundly influencing the Panamanian populace. Disturbances occur in each of the first four months of this year. [1]

On Independence Day Panamanians march into the Canal Zone to raise the Panamanian flag; U.S. troops turn them back. U.S. Government begins to convert police force into full-fledged military, the very military that the U.S. Government later fears because of its potential as a nationalist force. [1]


January 9 - U.S. students raise U.S. flag by itself at high school in Canal Zone. Panamanians march into Zone and are turned back by U.S. troops. This leads to two days of demonstrations during which U.S. troops kill more than 20 civilians and wound more than 300. Panama breaks diplomatic relations and demands revision of treaties. Relations resume in April after U.S. Government agrees to discuss treaties. [1]


October 11 - The National Guard, under Col. Omar Torrijos, overthrows the oligarchy and installs a junta from which Torrijos emerges the leader. He heads armed forces 1968-81. Any leader in Panama has two choices: be a puppet of U.S. Government without any real power or assert some independence, forcing reliance on nationalist base. Torrijos is not part of oligarchy; his base comes from the dispossessed. Under his leadership, the Panamanian Defense Forces becomes part of the movement for national liberation which includes the movement for liberation of Third World peoples in Panama. [1]


Public schools grow from fewer than 2,000 to more than 3,000. [1]

Infant mortality decreases from 40 to 25 per 1,000 live births. [1]

Social security is extended by more than 1 million. [1]

Roads and electricity are brought to rural areas. [1]

Labor unions grow. [1]

Blacks are appointed to ministerial positions. [1]


Junta confirmed by election. Torrijos remains at head of armed forces. [1]


Three treaties known as the Carter-Torrijos treaties are signed, arranging for the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama by the year 2000--specifically at midnight 12/31/99. [1]


October 1 - Treaties take effect; 65 percent of the Zone is returned to Panama. U.S. has responsibility of operating and defending Canal through December 31, 1999, but not after that. [1]


January - Reagan Administration takes office, with Reagan's commitment not to "lose" the Canal. [1]

July 31 - General Omar Torrijos is killed in an airplane crash. [1]


August - General Manuel Noriega takes over as commander of armed forces. Legislature creates the Panamanian Defense Forces with tremendous powers (control over National Guard which is merged into it, other military and police forces, Canal matters, and functions such as immigration control and regulation of civilian aircraft). Noriega has been working with CIA since 1959 (as contract agent since 1966 or 1967) but he too faces a choice if he wants to achieve real power. [1]


May 6 - Presidential election is a fraud arranged by the U.S. Government and Noriega. Nicolás Ardito Barletta, former official of the World Bank, wins. Secretary of State George Shultz attends inauguration of his protégé (Ardito Barletta had been an assistant to Shultz when Shultz was University of Chicago professor) to praise the election as democracy in action. [1]


17th December - Noriega later said that he learned of U.S. Government plan to invade Nicaragua on this date during a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser, Admiral John Poindexter; he said his failure to cooperate was the reason for U.S. drug indictments (2/88). From this time on, U.S. Government is concerned about Noriega who is not just working for the U.S. Government any longer but with countries like Cuba and Nicaragua. [1]


The U.S. Government proposes turning administration of Canal over to Panama by 1990 if U.S. bases can remain until 2015. [1]

February - U.S. appoints Arthur Davis as U.S. ambassador to Panama. Panamanian progressives consider this an important step in the Reagan-Bush strategy to regain total power in Panama. [1]


6th June - Col. Roberto Díaz Herrera, 2nd in command of Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), accuses Noriega of electoral fraud and murder and sets off first anti-Noriega protests suppressed by police. U.S. Government dates "political crisis in Panama" to mid-1987. [1]

10th June - President Eric Delvalle, installed by Noriega, declares state of emergency. Opposition announces creation of Civic Crusade, which U.S. Government aids. [1]

24th September - U.S. Senate unanimously approves non-binding resolution urging Panama to establish civilian government or face cutoff of U.S. aid. [1]


17th January - The New York Times reports that Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard L. Armitage made a secret mission to Panama early in January during which he told Noriega "to get out of politics within three months so that the country could have a cushion of civilian rule before elections next year." [1]

4th February - Noriega is indicted by two Federal grand juries in Tampa and Miami on charges of taking $5.4 (Tampa indictment) and $4.6 (Miami) million dollars from Medellín drug cartel to protect cocaine smuggling and money laundering operations in Panama. [1]

8th February - Noriega demands withdrawal of U.S. Southern Command, which has its headquarters in Panama. [1]

25th February - President Delvalle announces he has fired Noriega, but the National Assembly blocks this move by ousting Delvalle on the following day. U.S. Government continues to recognize Delvalle as president. The National Assembly names Education Minister Manuel Solís Palma minister in charge of the presidency. [1]

4th March - Panama closes banks after huge withdrawals by depositors. [1]

11th March - The Reagan Administration imposes sanctions, including elimination of trade preferences and withholding Canal fees. [1]

16th March - Noriega puts down coup attempt led by police chief. [1]

April - The Reagan Administration increases economic sanctions; Reagan prohibits U.S. companies and Government from making payments to Panama and freezes $56 million in Panamanian funds in U.S. banks. U.S. Government begins to send more than 2,000 additional troops. [1]

8th May - Panama banks open for limited withdrawals after two-month closure. [1]

25th May - U.S. Secretary of State Shultz announces talks on deal for Noriega departure have collapsed. [1]

July - It was exposed (after failed coup attempt 10/89) that the Senate Intelligence Committee in July 1988 opposed covert plan to overthrow Noriega ("Panama 3", the 3rd coup plan considered by CIA) approved by Reagan; Senate Committee feared Noriega would be killed during coup. [1]


7th May - Presidential election: Carlos Duque vs. Guillermo Endara. U.S. Government gives $10 million overtly (how much covertly?) to Endara campaign (equivalent to $1 billion given to candidate in U.S., although of course it is illegal for a U.S. candidate to accept election funds from foreign sources). Election results are annulled by the Panamanian Government 5/10/89. The Bush Administration sends 2,000 more troops. From this time on, U.S. Armed Forces stage regular military maneuvers in Panamanian territory in violation of treaties. U.S. forces carry out military exercises in the "white" areas that were returned to Panama in 1979 (as opposed to "green" areas still under U.S. control), as well as in outlying areas. [1]

11th May - President Bush recalls Ambassador Arthur Davis and plans to dispatch about 1,700 soldiers and 165 marines in phases to reinforce troops already in Panama. [1]

June - U.S. Justice Department issues statement that U.S. law- enforcement agents may arrest fugitives in foreign countries even if host governments don't approve, preparing the way for the arrest of Noriega after invasion. [1]

1st September - Provisional President Francisco Rodríguez takes office as President Solís Palma's term expires. [1]

12th September - The Bush Administration expands sanctions, including withdrawal of 1989 sugar quota and lengthening the list of companies and individuals barred from receiving payments from U.S. citizens. [1]

3rd October - Noriega puts down another coup attempt which was aided by U.S. Government. [1]

17th October - The Bush Administration says it supports wider latitude for CIA during coup attempts, complaining that restraints about possible death of targets are too limiting. [1]

27th October - U.S. Treasury Department formally announces that Noriega has been designated an agent of Cuba, meaning U.S. citizens are prohibited from doing business with him. Noriega's wife, various associates, and many companies are declared agents either at the same time or soon afterward. [1]

November - The U.S. Government announces that after 1/31/90 it will bar vessels registered in Panama from U.S. ports. [1]

16th November - Bush Administration confirms a plan for another coup to oust Noriega. Called Panama 5 (there were 4 previous plans), it has a $3 million budget. The aim is not assassination but if that were to happen, "that's not constrained," a Government official says. The CIA is supposed to be bound by a 1976 law banning its involvement in assassination plots. [1]

27th-29th November - A conference on U.S. intervention is held in Panama City by Panama's Center for International Studies to inform 118 U.S. delegates about what was happening; Panamanians expect invasion for there is a state of war without the name. [1]

15th December - Panamanian legislature names Noriega head of government and declares that Panama is in "a state of war" with U.S. [1]

20th December - U.S. invasion leads to arrest of Noriega and installation of a government suitable to Washington. [1] [2] Britain is only major state to unstintingly support US. [3]


Parliament approves constitutional reforms, including abolition of standing army; privatisation begins. [4]


US court finds Noriega guilty of drug offences and sentences him to 40 years imprisonment, to be served in a US prison. [4]


Mireya Moscoso becomes Panama's first woman president. [4]

December - Panama takes full control of the Panama Canal, ending nearly a century of American jurisdiction over one of the world's most strategic waterways. [4]


Moscoso announces creation of a panel to investigate crimes committed while military governments were in power between 1968 and 1989. [4]


January - President Moscoso sets up a commission to investigate corruption. The move follows large street protests against alleged graft in government circles. [4]

April - Panama removed from list of uncooperative tax havens, drawn up by Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, after promising to make its tax system more transparent. [4]


September - National strike over management of social security fund paralyses public services. More than 40 hurt in clashes. [4]


May - Martin Torrijos, son of former dictator Omar Torrijos, wins presidential elections. [4]

August/September - President Moscoso pardons four Cuban exiles Havana accuses of plotting to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro. Cuba severs diplomatic ties. Newly-inaugurated President Martin Torrijos pledges to repair relations with Havana. [4]