Peter M. Sanchez, PhD

Associate Professor, Political Science

Panama Lost? U.S. Hegemony, Democracy, and the Canal

University Press of Florida: 2007
(ISBN 0-8130-9780813030463)

Synopsis
Peter Sanchez tells the story of how Panama, though one of the smallest Latin American countries, played the largest symbolic role in America's ascent to world power status, particularly during the United States' almost century-long occupation of the Canal Zone from 1903 until Dec. 31, 1999. The United States would undoubtedly have become a great power without the Isthmus of Panama, but more than any other country in the hemisphere, Panama has served as a critical outpost for U.S. power and as an instrument for U.S. military and economic might. Sanchez argues that the United States' policies toward Panama motivated principally by the goal of preserving their hegemony in Latin America produced a formidable barrier to developing democratic politics in Panama. 

Examining key events and personalities in Panama's political history from the 1850s to the present, this comprehensive survey analyzes U.S.-Panama relations through the 1989 removal of General Manuel Noriega by U.S. armed forces and the final disposition of the Panama Canal Treaties, culminating in the return of all canal-related lands to the Panama government. This book is foremost a study of power relationships, demonstrating how domestic political development cannot be understood fully without taking power at the international level into consideration. Combining theory, case study, and policy relevance, this volume makes significant contributions to both comparative politics and international relations theory, showing that domestic and international politics are two sides of one coin. Featuring a comprehensive bibliography of material in both Spanish and English, the book will be a key resource not only for Latin Americanists but for anyone interested in the process of democratization and the effects of the international system on domestic political development.