Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


History Department

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Sarah Osten


Cold War, Panama, Panama Canal, Omar Torrijos, Neocolonial, US-Panama relations


This paper examines the Panama Canal treaty renegotiations in the 1970s, the complex figure of Panama’s military dictator Omar Torrijos, and how US interests in Panama were changing in the Cold War. It closely dissects the question of why the United States renegotiated the canal treaties with Panama at the height of the Cold War. It will find that Omar Torrijos was an active agent in pressuring the US by leveraging the international Cold War geopolitics. The paper also explores how Panamanians reacted to the new treaties; many left wing activists, politicians, or intellectuals objected to the new treaties. It exposes some of the shortcomings of Torrijos’ renegotiations and explains how the US still benefitted from the treaties. It includes a brief epilogue that discusses how the new treaties and the discourse around them impacted Panama in the 1980s. It connects Panamanian protests to the treaties with the 1989 invasion, arguing that the treaties did not restore complete sovereignty to Panama.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.