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date: 10 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

The successful negotiation of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaty inaugurated a new historical era in the Republic of Panama. Politically, the implementation of the Treaty from 1979 to 1999 transformed what, since 1903, had been a protectorate of the United States into a fully sovereign republic. Economically, the integration of the canal into Panama´s internal economy, and that of the country in the global market, created new opportunities for the development of the country. The treaty also put an end to the dispute between Panama and the United States over the control of the rent and revenues produced by the canal, transferring it to the government of the Republic of Panama, and so creating an unprecedented source of resources for investment. More than forty years on, however, Panama faced a combination of sustained (but uncertain) economic growth, persistent social inequity, constant environmental degradation, obsolescence of its institutional system, and increasing internal political tensions, all expressions of the contradiction between the natural organization of the territory of Panama, and the spatial organization of its economy, society and government imposed and maintained since the European conquest of the 16th century. This contradiction is also aggravated by the dispute over control of the canal rent between different sectors of Panamanian society. In short, the country is in a transition stage in its development, which may lead it to overcome the contradiction in developing into a prosperous and equitable republic, or into increasing conflicts that may worsen the contradictions inherent to a centralist and authoritarian tradition of governance.

Keywords: Panama Canal, Torrijos–Carter Canal Treaty, transitism, historical transition, territory, territorial organization, sustained economic growth, sustainable development, crisis, Latin American politics

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