This work examines how relations between Panama and the United States have always pivoted on the issue of transportation across the country's narrow isthmus and delves into the future of those relations now that Panama controls the canal. Historically, Panamanians aspired to have their country become a crossroads of the world, while Americans sought to tame a vast territory and protect their trade and influence around the globe. This work explores the implications of Panama's newly acquired opportunities and how events since the 1989 US invasion have provided a rich environment for the emergence of new parties, a new generation of politicians, and more democratic business procedures. Panama is now able to re-create its own nationhood relatively free from outside pressures. Drawing on a wide array of sources, this work considers the full range of factors - political, social, strategic, diplomatic, economic, intellectual - that have bound the two countries together.
Michael L. Conniff is director of Latin American and Caribbean studies and a professor of Latin American history at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He lived and worked in Panama for many years. He is the author of several books on Panama, Brazil, and Latin America.