Following more than a year of diplomatic conflict between the US and Panama, US military forces invaded Panama. The invasion was widely condemned by the international community, but President Bush justified the action as a measure to protect American citizens in Panama, fight Panamanian drug trafficking, protect the neutrality of the Panama Canal, remove General Manuel Noriega, and restore democratic government.
President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos signed the Panama Canal Treaties of 1977. The treaties provided for an end to US control over the canal by the year 2000, with the US reserving the authority to defend the canal as an internationally used waterway.
Manuel Noriega (1938– ) rose to military power in Panama when he participated in the coup that installed Omar Torrijos as the country’s leader. As Panama’s chief of military intelligence, Noriega worked with the American government and the CIA during the Nixon administration, though he was known in his own country for brutality and corruption. Noriega became Panama’s dictator upon the death of Torrijos in 1983. By 1989, the United States could no longer ignore Noriega’s actions, which included violation of the Panama Canal Treaty and...
The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Isthmus of Panama in Central America. Built by the United States between 1904 and 1914, the canal stretches about forty miles. The United States controlled the canal until 1979, when it became overseen by both US and Panama authorities joined together in the Panama Canal Commission. On December 31, 1999, the United States officially relinquished its control over the canal.