Return to home In Panama the indigenous Teribe Indians live
near the border of Costa Rica and number about 2,500. They are led
by King Santana, the only monarch in the western Hemisphere.
(SFC, 7/4/97, p.A12)
1503 Jan 9,
Christopher Columbus returned to the mouth of Rio Belen (western
Panama), where he built a garrison.
1503 Apr 6, Christopher
Columbus fended off an Indian attack at his garrison at Rio Belen
1503 Apr 16, Christopher
Columbus abandoned the garrison at Rio Belen (Panama) and sailed for
home (Hispaniola) with 3 ships.
1509-1520 The Spanish colonized the area of Nueva
Granada (modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela).
1513 Sept 25, Vasco Nunez de
Balboa, Spanish explorer, crossed the Isthmus of Panama and claimed
the Pacific Ocean for Spain. He was named governor of Panama and the
Pacific by King Ferdinand. In 2004 Hugh Thomas authored “Rivers of
Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan."
(HFA, '96, p.38)(TL-MB, 1988, p.10)(SFEC,
9/21/97, p.C7)(WSJ, 6/2/04, p.D12)
1514 1,500 Spanish settlers
went to Panama.
1519 Aug 15, Panama City was
1624 May 3, Spanish silver
fleet sailed to Panama.
1631 Jun 17, The Spanish
galleon San Jose smashed into rock off the Pacific coast of Panama.
It was overloaded with 200 passengers and 700 tons of cargo. Silver
coins and bars were lost over a 40-mile trail.
(http://tinyurl.com/hmy8v7f)(SFC, 12/1/15, p.A7)
1739 Nov 22, Adm. Edward Vernon
captured the Spanish city of Portobello, Panama, with a force of 6
(PCh, 1992, p.292)
1573 Feb 11, Sir Francis Drake
1st saw the Pacific Ocean from Panama.
1595 Construction of San
Lorenzo Castle began. It was planned as a depot for gold shipments
(AM, 7/00, p.23)
1671 Jan 27, Welsh privateer
Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688) landed at Panama City and attacked the
city the following day.
1696 The Company of Scotland
began raising money for a colony at Darien on the Isthmus of Panama.
The venture collapsed after 4 years and only 3 of 13 ships returned
(Econ, 8/28/10, p.74)
1698 Jul 14, The first Company
of Scotland expedition of five ships (Saint Andrew, Caledonia,
Unicorn, Dolphin, and Endeavour) set sail from the east coast port
of Leith to avoid observation by English warships, with around 1,200
people on board. After calling at Madeira and the West Indies, the
fleet made landfall off the coast of Darien on 2 November. The
settlers christened their new home "New Caledonia."
1700 Apr, A siege by Spanish
forces shut down a Company of Scotland colony called "New Caledonia"
on the Isthmus of Panama. As the Darien company was backed by nearly
half the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the
country, which had suffered a run of bad harvests, completely ruined
and was an important factor in weakening resistance to the Act of
Union (finally consummated in 1707) among the political elite.
1848 Dec 26, The 1st
California-bound gold seekers arrived in Panama enroute to SF.
1849 Feb 28, Steamboat service
began from Panama City to SF. Pacific Mail Steamship Co. sent the
steamship California to SF with American gold-seekers and 50
(AP, 2/28/98) (SFEC, 1/11/98, DB p.40)
1850 Panama’s city of Colon was
founded as the isthmus of Panama became a route for the California
(Econ, 5/17/08, p.47)
1855 The US completed the
(SSFC, 5/14/06, p.G4)(SFC, 10/3/20, p.B4)
1870-1914 In 1977 David McCullough authored "The
Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914."
(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1873 May 7, US marines attacked
1880 Jan 1, The building of the
Panama Canal was symbolically begun under the direction of French
diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps. Actual construction began a year
later. In 2007 Matthew Parker authored “Panama Fever: The Battle to
Build the Canal."
1880 Mar 8, President
Rutherford B. Hays declared that the United States would have
jurisdiction over any canal built across the isthmus of Panama.
1880-1902 Panamanians staged a number of
rebellions to gain independence.
(ON, 1/00, p.2)
1881 Mar 3, The Compagnie
Universelle du Canal Interoceanique was incorporated under French
law. On Feb 4, 1889, it was declared bankrupt and dissolved by
Tribunal Civil de la Seine.
1884 Philippe Bunau-Varilla
(25), a French engineer, went Panama to work on a canal being
constructed under Ferdinand de Lesseps.
(ON, 1/00, p.1)
1889 Feb 4, Ferdinand de
Lesseps (d.1894) abandoned his Panama Canal project. Over 5,000
French people died working on the project. In all over 25,000 people
died during 8 years of work, mostly from malaria and yellow fever.
1894 Philippe Bunau-Varilla
became a major stockholder and spokesman in the New Panama Canal
Company. He then offered to sell the company’s assets to the US for
$109 million and later reduced the price to $40 million.
(ON, 1/00, p.1)
1901 Nov 18, The 2nd
Hay-Pauncefote Treaty was signed. The U.S. was given extensive
rights by Britain for building and operating a canal through Central
1902 Jan 4, The French offered
to sell their Nicaraguan Canal rights to the U.S.
1902 Jan 18, The Isthmus Canal
Commission in Washington shifted its support to Panama as the canal
1902 May, The Momotomba volcano
(ON, 1/00, p.2)
1902 Jun 19, The US Senate
voted in favor of Panama as the canal site. US support for a $40
million purchase was based on Congressional acceptance for a canal
in Panama rather than Nicaragua, and the acquisition of land to
serve as a canal zone.
(ON, 1/00, p.1)
1902 Jun 28, Congress passed
the Spooner bill, authorizing a canal to be built across the isthmus
of Panama. The US purchased a concession to build Panama canal from
French for $40 million.
(HN, 6/28/98)(MC, 6/28/02)
1902 Sep 17, U.S. troops were
sent to Panama to keep train lines open over the isthmus as
Panamanian nationals struggled for independence from Colombia.
1903 Jan, The Hay-Herran Treaty
with Columbia would have given the United States the land and the
right to build a canal across Panama, but Columbia refused to ratify
1903 Mar 14, The Senate
ratified the Hay-Herran Treaty which guaranteed the U.S. the right
to build a canal at Panama. The treaty promised Colombia $10 million
plus $250,000 annually for a zone 6 miles wide.
(HN, 3/14/98)(ON, 1/00, p.2)
1903 Oct 10, Philippe
Bunau-Varilla met with Pres. Roosevelt in Washington and told him
that a group in Panama was planning a rebellion. He asked that the
US prevent any Colombian troops from landing to break the rebellion,
but received no specific answer.
(ON, 1/00, p.2)
1903 Nov 3, There was a
Revolution in Panama composed of Panamanian fired departments and
some 500 Colombian mercenary troops purchased for some $100,000 by
Philippe Bunau-Varilla’s Panama Canal Company. Panama proclaimed its
independence from Colombia. The US created Panama so that a canal
could be built and maintained
(HFA, '96, p.42)(SFC, 6/2/97, p.A8) (AP,
11/3/97)(ON, 1/00, p.2)
1903 Nov 4, After a one-day
coup, in which an American warship offshore prevented Columbia from
quelling the revolt and the only casualty was a Chinese shopkeeper
and a donkey, Panama declared her independence. A jubilant President
Theodore Roosevelt recognized the new republic three days later. The
Panama Canal, a cornerstone of Roosevelt's aggressive foreign
policy, was completed in 10 years.
(HNPD, 11/18/98)(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1903 Nov 6, Panama declared its
independence from Colombia.
(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1903 Nov 7, President Theodore
Roosevelt recognized the new republic. The Panama Canal, a
cornerstone of Roosevelt's aggressive foreign policy, was completed
in 10 years.
(HNPD, 11/18/98)(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1903 Nov 18, The
Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed, granting the United States a
strip of land across the Isthmus of Panama and the right to build
and fortify the Panama Canal. A jubilant President Theodore
Roosevelt, at a Panama Canal construction site, recognized the new
republic three days later. The Panama Canal, a cornerstone of
Roosevelt's aggressive foreign policy, was completed in 10 years.
(HNPD, 11/18/98)(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1904 Feb 3, Colombian troops
clashed with U.S. Marines in Panama.
1904 Feb 23, US acquired
control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million.
1904 May 4, The United States
took over construction of the Panama Canal.
1904 Oct 21, Panamanians
clashed with U.S. Marines in Panama in a brief uprising.
1904 Panama adopted the US
dollar as its currency.
(WSJ, 1/18/98, p.A1)
1904-1913 William Crawford Gorgas (1854-1920), US
Surgeon-Gen, served as the chief sanitary officer of the Panama
(WUD, 1994 p.610)(MC, 10/3/01)
1906 Nov 9, President Theodore
Roosevelt left Washington D.C. for a 17 day trip to Panama and
Puerto Rico, becoming the first president to make an official visit
outside of the US. His trip popularized the Panama hat, a product
actually made in Ecuador and shipped since the 1840s to prospective
gold diggers in Panama. The toquilla straw hats had been made in
Ecuador as long ago as the 17th century.
(HN, 11/9/98)(Econ, 7/19/14, p.33)
1907-1914 George Washington Goethals, US major
general and engineer, was the chief engineer of the Panama Canal.
(WUD, 1994, p.606)
1909 Aug 24, Workers started
pouring concrete for Panama Canal.
1912 Panama Canal workers
rioted on Independence Day.
(SFC, 3/3/09, p.E10)
1912 Engineers dammed the
Chagres River to create the Panama Canal’s main water supply. The
submerged town of Matachin ("kill the Chinese") had been named after
hundreds of Chinese railway workers committed suicide over a period
of several months.
(SSFC, 10/20/02, p.C5)
1913 Sep 26, The first boat was
raised in the locks of the Panama Canal.
1913 Oct 10, Panama Canal was
completed when President Woodrow Wilson triggered a blast which
exploded the Gamboa Dike by pressing an electric button at the White
House in Washington, D.C.
1913 Nov 17, The first ship
sailed through the Panama Canal. In 1940 Helen Nicolay authored "The
Bridge of Water: The Story of the Panama and the Canal."
(HN, 11/17/98)(ON, 1/00, p.3)
1914 Jun 7, The first vessel
passed through the Panama Canal. [see Aug]
1914 Aug 15, The Panama Canal
opened to traffic. The Panama Canal, a 52-mile waterway, was
completed. Some 5,000 workers, just 350 of them white, perished in
the American effort. In 1977 David McCullough authored "The Path
Between the Seas," a definitive account of the building of the
Panama Canal. In 2009 Julie Greene authored “The Canal Builders:
Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal."
(WSJ, 7/22/96, p.A11)(SFEC, 11/3/96, p.A16)(HN,
8/15/98)(WSJ, 10/17/02, p.A18)(SFC, 3/3/09, p.E10)
1914 Nov 17, US declared Panama
Canal Zone neutral.
1914-1916 George Washington Goethals served as the
governor of the Canal Zone.
(WUD, 1994, p.606)
1928 Howard Air Force Base was
constructed by the US.
(SFC, 11/2/99, p.A14)
1934 Jul 11, President
Roosevelt became the first chief executive to travel through the
Panama Canal while in office.
1936 Aug 29, John McCain, later
Arizona Senator and 2008 US presidential candidate, was born at the
Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone.
1936 The 16,000-mile
Pan-American Highway project began. It left a 54-mile gap in the
jungle of the Panamanian province of Darien.
(Econ, 10/2/04, p.38)
1940s The US military tested
weapons in Panama.
(SFC, 3/6/98, p.A12)
1946 Mar 1, Panama accepted its
1946-1983 The US Army School of the Americas
trained Latin American military officials. The school was converted
for eco-tourism in 2001.
(SSFC, 1/21/01, p.T4)
1955 Jan 2, Jose Antonio Remon,
president of Panama (1952-55), was assassinated.
1959 Apr 20, British ballerina
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991)) was arrested and briefly detained in a
Panama prison. She and her diplomat husband, Roberto Arias, had
sought Fidel Castro's help in a revolution that failed because of a
last-minute blunder. Fonteyn, born Peggy Hookham, went on to reach
even greater creative heights through her acclaimed partnership with
Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev. She returned to Panama with her
husband years later and died there.
1959 Apr 26, The Panamanian
gov't reported 'suppression' of attempted guerilla invasion from
1959 Apr 27, US State Dept.
announced small arms stored in Canal Zone will be provided to
Panamanian forces to repel Cuban invaders.
1959 Apr 28, Organization of
American States voted unanimously to send a commission to Panama.
1959 Apr 29, Premier Castro
denied any Cuban role, direct or indirect, in a Panamanian invasion.
1959 May 1, Some 87 guerillas,
mostly Cubans, surrendered without resistance to Panamanian troops
at the village of Nombre de Dios in response to appeals by Castro.
1963 Feb-Mar, The US military,
while conducting biological weapons tests, sprayed Bacillus globigii
from aircraft near Fort Sherman Military Reservation in the Canal
(SFC, 11/1/02, p.A3)
1964 Jan 9, Anti-US rioting
broke out in the Panama Canal Zone, resulting in the deaths of 21
Panamanians and three US soldiers. US forces killed 6 Panamanian
students protesting in the canal zone. Violent clashes between
Panamanians and American soldiers, which resulted in the deaths of
21 Panamanians and four American soldiers, began when US students’
attempted to raise the American flag at the Canal Zone high
school. An order banning the flying of any flags in front of
Canal Zone schools had been issued on December 30, 1963, because of
Panamanian sensitivity to US control of the Zone. These events led
to attempts to renegotiate the Canal Zone’s status.
(HN, 1/9/98)(AP, 1/9/99)(HNQ, 6/10/99)
1964 Jan 10, Panama broke ties
with the U.S. and demanded a revision of the canal treaty.
1967 The US CIA put Manuel
Antonio Noriega on its payroll and continued paying him to 1988.
During Ronald Reagan’s presidency Noriega was an invaluable conduit
of cash and weapons to the Nicaragua contras.
(Econ 6/3/17, p.82)
1968 Oct 11, Pres. Arnulfo
Arias was ousted in a coup by Gen’l. Omar Torrijos. Arias was the
founder of Panama's special security system and opened the vote to
women before he was ousted. Arias went into exile.
(WUD, 1994, p.1687)(SFC, 1/2/97, p.A20)(SFC,
4/29/99, p.D5)(SFC, 9/1/99, p.A14)
1968 Oct, The MH-1A, a US
converted Liberty Ship named Sturgis, began supplying electricity to
the Panama Canal Zone using a 10MW nuclear reactor. Operations
continued to 1975.
1969 Arnulfo Arias (67) married
his secretary Mireya Moscoso (23) in Miami.
(SFC, 9/1/99, p.A14)
1970 May, In Panama leftist
activist Heliodoro Portugal was kidnapped. His remains were found in
1999 near a military barracks outside Panama City. In 2009 the
government accepted responsibility for Portugal's disappearance and
agreed to pay his family $256,000.
1977 Aug 10, US and Panama
negotiations for a Panama Canal Zone treaty, begun on February 15,
were completed [see Sep 7].
1977 Sep 7, Pres. Carter and
Gen'l. Torrijos signed the Panama Canal treaties (the
Torrijos-Carter Treaties) in Washington, DC. The 2 treaties
abrogated the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty of 1903 and called for the US
to eventually turn over control of the waterway to Panama. The US
Southern Command was scheduled to withdraw to new Miami headquarters
by the end of 1999. The US agreed to clean up its bases before
turning them over. The deal was negotiated by Sol Linowitz (d.2005).
(AP, 9/7/97)(WSJ, 3/21/05,
1977 Gabriel Lewis Galindo
(1928-1996) was appointed ambassador to the US with the hope of
negotiating the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama.
(SFC, 1/2/97, p.A20)
1978 Apr 18, The U.S. Senate
voted 68-32 to turn the Panama Canal over to Panamanian control on
Dec. 31, 1999.
(AP, 4/18/98) (HN, 4/18/98)
1978 Jun 16, President Carter
and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos exchanged instruments of
ratification for the Panama Canal treaties.
1979 Oct 1, The 1977 Panama
Canal Treaties entered into force. The US returned the Canal Zone,
but not the canal, to Panama after 75 years.
1979 Panama gave refuge to the
ousted Shah of Iran.
(WSJ, 3/5/99, p.A1)
1979-2002 Munitions explosions from the
44,000-acre former US firing range left 24 fatalities over this
period. 100,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance were estimated to
remain in the ranges named Empire, Piña and Balboa West.
(SFC, 5/27/02, p.A3)
1981 Jul 31, The leader of
Panama, General Omar Torrijos, died in a plane crash. Michael
Harari, a former Israeli Mossad agent, reorganized, renamed and
trained the Panamanian Defense Forces when Gen. Manuel Noriega
(SFC, 1/2/97, p.A20)(AP,
1982 Apr 1, The U.S.
transferred the Canal Zone to Panama.
1983 Aug 12, General Manuel A.
Noriega (b.1938) assumed command of Panama’s National Guard.
1984 May 6, Nicolas Ardito
Barletta was elected president of Panama. Gen. Manuel A. Noriega
reportedly rigged the elections.
1984 The US Army School of the
Americas (b.1946), a training center for Latin American military
officers, was moved from Panama to Fort Benning, Ga.
(SFC, 9/21/96, p.A3)(SSFC, 1/21/01, p.T4)
1985 The film "The Return of
Ruben Blades" was made by Robert Mugge.
(SFEM, 9/26/99, p.12)
1985 Manuel Antonio Noriega
overthrew Pres. Barletta.
(SFEC, 6/8/97, Z1 p.3)
1985 In Panama Hugo Spadafora,
a dissident leader, was decapitated. Manuel Noriega was later
sentenced to 20 years for the murder.
(SFC, 1/25/07, p.A14)
1987 Jan 22, France named
Manuel Noriega, head of Panama, a Commander of the Legion of Honor
1988 Feb 5, A pair of
indictments were unsealed in Florida, accusing Panama's military
leader, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, of bribery and drug
trafficking. Noriega had used Panama to ship cocaine to the US from
Colombia taking some $200-$300 million for himself.
(AP, 2/5/97)(Econ 6/3/17, p.82)
1988 Feb 25, Panama's civilian
president, Eric Arturo Delvalle announced the dismissal of Gen.
Manuel Antonio Noriega as commander of the country's Defense Forces.
The next day, Panama's National Assembly voted to oust Delvalle.
1988 Feb 26, Eric Arturo
Delvalle, ousted as president of Panama by the country's National
Assembly, called for a national strike to repudiate Gen. Manuel
1988 Mar 11, Pres. Reagan
directed that actions be taken to suspend trade preferences
available to Panama under the Generalized System of Preferences
(GSP) and the Caribbean Basin Initiative.
1988 Mar 18, The government of
Panama, controlled by Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, declared a "state
of urgency" in a move apparently aimed at forcing the reopening of
banks and other businesses that closed during Panama's economic and
1988 Apr 8, Pres. Reagan issued
Executive Order 12365 ordering the immediate blocking of all
property and interests in property of the Government of Panama.
1988 Apr 30, Gen. Manuel
Noriega, waving a machete, vowed at a rally to keep fighting U.S.
efforts to oust him as Panama's military ruler.
1988 Arnulfo Arias (86), former
3 time president, died.
(SFC, 9/1/99, p.A14)
1989 May 7, Both sides claimed
victory in Panama's national elections, with the opposition also
charging a pattern of fraud. Panamanian voters rejected dictator
Manuel Noriega's bid for reelection. Backed by a coalition of
civilian parties, Guillermo Endara (1936-2009) overwhelmingly won
the presidential election, but Noriega refused to recognize the
results and unleashed a wave of repression against his
(AP, 5/7/99)(AP, 9/29/09)
1989 May 8, Former President
Carter, a leader of an international team observing Panama's
elections, declared that the armed forces were defrauding the
opposition of victory.
1989 May 9, President Bush
complained that Panama's elections were marred by "massive
irregularities," and he called for worldwide pressure on General
Manuel Antonio Noriega to step down as military leader.
1989 May 10, In Panama, the
government of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega announced it had nullified
the country's elections, which independent observers said the
opposition had won by a 3-1 margin.
1989 May 11, President Bush
recalled the US ambassador and planned to dispatch about 1,700
soldiers and 165 marines in phases to reinforce troops already in
1989 Oct 3, Troops loyal to
Panamanian leader General Manuel Noriega crushed a coup attempt by
rebel mid-level officers. The officers, including Maj. Moises
Giroldi, who led the failed coup against Noriega were later
executed. Noriega was convicted in absentia in 1995 and in 1999
Panama sought his extradition to face trial.
(AP, 10/3/99)(WSJ, 4/7/99, p.A1)(SFC, 1/25/07,
1989 Dec 20, The United States
launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple
the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega. Guillermo Endara replaced
Noriega. The US ended on Feb 13, 1990. It cost $182 million and left
23 US casualties with 320 wounded. A 1997 book: "The Memoirs of
Manuel Noriega" by Noriega and Peter Eisner told his version.
(SFEC, 4/13/97, BR p.3)(AP, 12/20/99)(WSJ,
9/22/99, p.A8)(HN, 12/20/99)
1989 Dec 24, Ousted Panamanian
ruler Manuel Noriega, who had succeeded in eluding US forces, took
refuge at the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Panama City. It took
weeks of negotiation and loud rock music played incessantly outside
the embassy by American forces before Noriega agreed to give himself
1990 Jan 3, Ousted Panamanian
leader Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. forces, 10 days after
taking refuge in the Vatican's diplomatic mission.
1990 Jan 4, Deposed Panamanian
leader Manuel Noriega was arraigned in federal district court in
Miami on drug-trafficking charges.
1990 Jan 6, Defense Secretary
Dick Cheney told CNN the U.S. invasion of Panama should not be
viewed as a new "Bush doctrine" inclined toward military
intervention in countries where democratic elections had been
1990 Jan 17, A federal judge in
Miami set March 1990 for the trial of ex-Panamanian leader Manuel
Noriega on drug trafficking charges. After initial delays, Noriega
was tried and convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute
cocaine, and was sentenced to 40 years in prison, later cut to 30
1990 Mar 2, A grenade attack
in downtown Panama killed a U.S. soldier and injured 28 other people
at the My Place discotheque on Via Espania and Calle 50.
1991 Jan 18, The US
acknowledged that the CIA and US Army paid Panama’s military leader
Manuel Noriega $322,226 from 1955-1986. Noriega began receiving
money from the CIA in 1976.
1991 Apr 22, Sixty people were
killed when a strong earthquake shook Costa Rica and neighboring
Panama, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage.
1991 May 15, Defense lawyers
released docs claiming Noriega is "CIA's man in Panama."
1992 Apr 4, Jury deliberations
began in the Noriega case in Florida.
1992 Apr 9, Former Panamanian
ruler Manuel Noriega was convicted in Miami of eight drug and
racketeering charges; he is serving a 40-year prison sentence.
1992 Jun 10, In Panama US Sgt.
Zak Hernandez (22) was killed by gunfire from a passing car that
sprayed the military vehicle in which he was riding. Pedro Miguel
Gonzalez, son of a Gerardo Gonzalez who is the President of Congress
and leader of the PRD, was arrested and charged along with two
others for the killing. They were found not guilty in 1997.
1992 Jun 11, President Bush's
stopover in Panama en route to the Earth Summit in Brazil was
disrupted when riot police fired tear gas at protesters, preventing
Bush from speaking at a rally praising the revival of democracy in
1992 Jul 10, A federal judge in
Miami sentenced former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, convicted
of drug and racketeering charges, to 40 years in prison. However, a
judge in March, 1998, cut Noriega's sentence by ten years, meaning
he could be eligible for parole in 2000.
(WSJ, 3/28/96, p.A-1)(AP, 7/10/99)
1993 Nov 21, Three former
Panamanian soldiers were found guilty of involvement in the
previously unsolved 1971 murder of Hector Gallego, a Colombian Roman
1994 Jul 7, President Clinton,
visiting Poland, assured the parliament that the U.S. would "not let
the Iron Curtain be replaced by a veil of indifference."
1994 Jul 7, Panama withdrew its
offer to the United States to accept thousands of Haitian refugees.
1994 Jul 19, A bomb ripped
apart a Panama commuter plane, killing 21, including 12 Jews.
1994 Ruben Blades recorded
(WSJ, 11/13/02, p.D10)
1994 Ernesto Perez Balladares
campaigned for the presidency at the head of the Democratic
Revolutionary Party (PRD) and was elected. He was later accused of
accepting $51,000 in drug money in the campaign.
(SFC, 9/1/99, p.A14)
1994 Ruben Blades, singer and
actor, ran for the presidency and came in 3rd.
(WSJ, 11/13/02, p.D10)
1995 Manuel Noriega was
convicted in absentia for the 1989 murder of officers involved in a
(WSJ, 4/7/99, p.A1)
1996 Jun 24, A coalition of
human rights groups called for early elections saying that the
president and his party have lost authority to rule. Attorney
General Jose Antonio Sossa said that the law for punishing
individuals who accept drug money in political campaigns was not yet
in effect when drug money went to Pres. Balladares.
(SFC, 6/25/96, p.A10)
1996 Jul 4, In Panama police
arrested Jaime Revello, a top Columbian drug lord, and seized 4.5
tons of cocaine.
(SFC, 7/5/96, p.A13)
1996 Oct 1, The 207-acre Fort
Amodor was transferred to Panama.
(SFC, 10/2/96, p.A8)
1996 The population of Panama
was about 2.5 million.
(SFC, 10/2/96, p.A8)
1997 Jan 16, Panama's Law No. 5
was passed and confirmed a deal in which Hutchison Whampoa, a
Chinese Hong Kong corporation, agreed to pay $22.5 million a year
plus what one Panamanian called "bucket loads of money" under the
1997 Aug 13, Pres. Balladares
gave journalist Gustavo Gorriti until the end of the month to leave
Panama. Mr. Gorriti had published investigative articles detailing
the financial dealings of the president’s election campaign, his
allies and gentlemen of questionable character.
(WSJ, 8/13/97, p.A1)
1998 Mar 6, It was reported
that Panama hired a Canadian Indian tribe, the Tsuu T’ina, to clean
out unexploded bombs and shells from an area of Empire Range, which
US military forces abandoned.
(SFC, 3/6/98, p.A12)
1998 Oct 22-1998 Nov 9,
Hurricane Mitch was one of the Caribbean's deadliest storms ever
causing at least at least 9,000 deaths in Central America. The storm
hit Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama,
Jamaica, and Costa Rica. Later reports put the death toll in
Honduras to 6,076. In Nicaragua the deaths reached 4,000, in
Guatemala it was157, and in El Salvador it was 222. The storm parked
over Honduras and rain poured for 6 days straight. Aid of $66
mil was ordered from the US, $8 mil from the EU, $11.6 mil from
Spain along with pledges from other countries and private
(SFC, 11/4/98, p.A9)(SFC, 11/6/98, p.A14)(AP,
1998 Mark Falcoff authored
"Panama Canal: What Happens When the United States Gives a Small
Country What It Wants," a study of the implications of the canal
(WSJ, 12/30/98, p.A9)(SFEC, 6/6/99, Z1 p.7)
1999 Mar 11, The US Rodman
naval base was transferred to Panama.
(WSJ, 3/12/99, p.A1)
1999 May 2, In Panama
presidential elections were scheduled. Martin Torrijos, son of
Gen'l. Omar Torrijos, was favored over Mireya Moscoso (52), wife of
the late Arnulfo Arias. Moscoso led the vote in early returns.
(SFC, 4/29/99, p.D5)(SFC, 5/3/99, p.A12)
1999 Sep 1, Mireya Moscoso
began serving as the 1st female president.
(SFC, 9/1/99, p.A14)
1999 Nov 1, In Panama the US
handed over Howard Air Force Base, Fort Kobbe and the Farfan
(SFC, 11/2/99, p.A14)
1999 Nov 2, In Panama suspected
Colombian rebels hijacked 2 helicopters.
(SFC, 11/3/99, p.C2)
1999 Dec 14, In Panama former
US Pres. Jimmy Carter symbolically turned over the Panama Canal. The
official ownership transfer date was Dec 31.
(SFC, 12/15/99, p.A16)
1999 Dec 31, The US was by a
1977 treaty required to give up control of the Panama Canal and
withdraw its forces by this date. The treaty also required the US to
pay for environmental cleanup.
(SFC, 10/2/96, p.A8)(SFC, 10/15/98, p.C5)
1999 France tried Manuel
Noriega, former dictator of Panama, in absentia on money laundering
charges. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
2000 Nov 17, In Panama Luis
Posada, an anti-Castro terrorist, was arrested along with 3 others
Cuban-Americans for an assassination plot against Fidel Castro at a
regional summit. They were convicted of endangering public security.
(SFC, 11/22/00, p.A19)(SFC, 5/18/05, p.A9)
2000 Nov, Panama planned $5.9
billion project to enlarge the Panama Canal to meet demand.
(SFC, 11/9/00, p.C2)
2001 May 14, Panama agreed to
suspend a 66% increase in bus fares for 7 months following protests
and riots in which over 100 people were injured.
(WSJ, 5/15/01, p.A1)
2001 Jun 14, In Panama it was
reported that 5 patients died from radiation therapy when incorrect
data was punched into a computer program.
(WSJ, 6/14/01, p.A1)
2001 Feb, The Panama Canal
Railway began coast to coast passenger train service. A container
service followed in Nov.
(SSFC, 10/20/02, p.C5)
2003 Jan 8, Manuel Ciervides
Lacayo, the Panamanian consul to Guayaquil, Ecuador, was shot and
killed while vacationing in Panama.
2003 Oct 30, In Panama more
than 20,000 teachers and construction workers stayed off the job,
staging a daylong strike to demand that the government retain
control over the country's social security system.
2003 Nov 7, The defending
champion US baseball team failed to qualify for the 2004 Athens
Olympics, losing to Mexico 2-1 in the quarterfinals of a qualifying
tournament in Panama City, Panama.
2003 Dec 25, A strong
earthquake shook the border of Costa Rica and Panama, killing an
infant and leaving dozens of others with mainly minor injuries.
2004 Jan 7, Panama plans for a
canal upgrade in order to accommodate new and larger container ships
was estimated at $8 billion.
(WSJ, 1/7/04, p.A1)
2004 Jan 10, Panamanian
officials arrested Arcangel de Jesus Henao Montoya, a top leader of
the Colombian Norte de Valle drug cartel, in the southern city of
Torti and took him to Panama City. He was soon handed over to US
(AP, 1/11/04)(SFC, 1/15/04, p.A1)
2004 May 2, Martin Torrijos
(40), son of former military dictator Gen’l. Omar Torrijos, was
easily elected as Panama's next leader in its first presidential
vote since the handover of the Panama Canal and withdrawal of US
troops in December 1999. Torrijos promised to tackle vested
(AP, 5/3/04)(Econ, 1/19/08, p.39)
2004 Jul 2, In Panama a
US-registered small jet crashed into an airport hangar during
takeoff and burst into flames, killing seven people.
2004 Aug 26, Cuba broke
diplomatic ties with Panama after the outgoing Panamanian president
Mireya Moscoso pardoned four Cuban exiles, including Luis Posada
Carriles, the communist government accuses of trying to assassinate
President Fidel Castro.
(AP, 8/27/04)(SFC, 5/18/05, p.A9)
2004 Sep 1, Martin Torrijos,
the son of a former dictator, took office as Panama's president
promising jobs, better relations with Cuba and a referendum on a
proposed $8 billion expansion of the Panama Canal.
2004 Nov 19, Cuba and Panama
agreed to restore consular relations, taking a step toward renewal
of full diplomatic ties at a meeting on the sidelines of an
2005 Mar 3, The seven Central
American nations (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) agreed to create a rapid-response
force to combat drug trafficking, terrorism and other regional
2005 Apr 4, Evergreen Int’l., a
Panamanian shipping line, pleaded guilty to over 2 dozen counts of
illegal dumping around the US. It was ordered to pay a fine of $25
million, one of the largest ever imposed for polluting the ocean.
(SFC, 4/5/05, p.B8)
2005 May 25, Riot police in
Panama City fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse people
throwing bottles and rocks during a protest by an estimated 10,000
workers and students against proposed changes in the country's
(AP, 5/26/05)(WSJ, 5/26/05, p.A1)
2005 Jun 30, In Honduras
Central American leaders agreed to create a regional special forces
unit to fight drug trafficking, gang violence and terrorism within
their borders. The 2-day regional meeting included the presidents of
Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico,
Nicaragua, and Panama.
2005 Jul 28, In Panama a 2-day
summit started for 25 members of the Association of Caribbean States
(ACS). Venezuela said it will continue offering crude on favorable
terms, and even in barter trades, to countries in the region.
Thirteen of the 15 members of the narrower Caribbean Community
group, or Caricom, mainly island nations, have already signed onto
Venezuela's oil initiative.
2005 Jul, US Embassy officials
in Panama said in a confidential diplomatic cable that they had
"credible and compelling information" that Panama Supreme Court
Justice Winston Spadafora took bribes to influence court cases. The
cables were only made public in 2011 by the WikiLeaks organization.
2005 Aug 20, Cuba and Panama
restored diplomatic ties, one year after they were broken off in a
dispute sparked by the decision by Panama's previous president to
pardon four Cuban exiles accused of trying to assassinate Cuban
President Fidel Castro.
2005 Nov 7, President Bush met
with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos in Panama City, Panama,
where they discussed a free trade agreement. President Bush, in
Panama, defended US interrogation practices and called the treatment
of terrorism suspects lawful, saying, "We do not torture."
(AP, 11/7/05)(AP, 11/7/06)
2005 Nov 30, In Cuba Panama's
President Martin Torrijos greeted dozens of his compatriots as they
arrived in Havana for free eye operations, the latest sign of
warming relations between the two countries.
2006 Jan 10, Panama's
agricultural minister resigned, accusing the US of pressuring the
Central American country to accept lower agricultural inspection
2006 Jan 27, A Panamanian ship
collided with two other vessels near the Peruvian port of Callao,
splitting in two and leaving one sailor missing.
2006 Jul 11, Central American
presidents agreed on a plan to ease border controls and install a
common customs system on the way to negotiating an eventual
free-trade agreement with the EU. The agreement signed by Panama,
Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize
would allow residents to cross borders without passports or visas.
2006 Oct 9, Panamanian
authorities said they suspect a medicine taken to treat high blood
pressure may be among the factors leading to the deaths of 21 people
since July who have succumbed to a mysterious illness that triggers
kidney failure. Panama's health minister stopped sales of the
medication, Lisinopril Normon, on Oct 6 and began removing it from
pharmacy shelves. About 9,000 Panamanians were taking the medicine.
Total deaths eventually reached at least 116 from contaminated
medications [see Oct 18].
(AP, 10/9/06)(AP, 5/10/08)
2006 Oct 18, Panamanian
authorities said that 26 people had died after drinking tainted
cough medicine, and five people had been detained on suspicion of
selling contaminated material to a factory that produced the
medication. Panama set up 34 round-the-clock clinics across the
nation to identify the sick and perform blood tests for kidney
damage. The contaminated medicines contained a chemical cousin of
antifreeze, diethylene glycol, which is used to keep glue and
cosmetics moist. Officials believe it turned up in 100,000 bottles
of cough syrup, 20,000 of which have not been recovered. In 2007 it
was reported that a Chinese factory was the source of a counterfeit
chemical that killed dozens of people in Panama after it was used in
human medications. Total deaths reached 116 from contaminated
(AP, 10/19/06)(AP, 10/27/06)(AP, 5/6/07)(AP,
2006 Oct 22, Voters in Panama
approved a $5.25 billion referendum, pushed by Pres, Torrijos, to
expand the Panama Canal. The project was expected to take 8 years
and provide some 7,000 jobs.
(AP, 10/23/06)(Econ, 7/21/07, p.39)
2006 Oct 23, In Panama
mechanical problems triggered a fire that raced through a bus in
Panama City, killing at least 18 people, injuring 25.
2006 Nov 1, Venezuela and
US-backed Guatemala agreed to withdraw from the race and support
Panama, a compromise reached after voting in the UN General Assembly
dragged through 47 rounds of balloting.
2006 Nov 3, Latin American and
Caribbean nations unanimously endorsed Panama for a seat on the UN
Security Council after Guatemala and Venezuela agreed to withdraw to
break a deadlock that dragged on through 47 votes in the General
2006 Nov 7, Panama won a seat
on the UN Security Council on the 48th ballot after US-backed
Guatemala and Venezuela, led by leftist anti-American President Hugo
Chavez, dropped out to end a deadlock.
2006 Nov 24, Panama’s
government said heavy rains and flooding have left at least eight
people dead and damaged hundreds of homes.
2007 Mar 18, Panamanian police
working with agents from the US Drug Enforcement Agency seized a
boat off the nation's Pacific coast carrying 21.4 tons of cocaine in
one of the biggest maritime cocaine busts anywhere on record.
2007 Apr 10, In Panama the
charred and mutilated body of Staten Island businesswoman Toni
Grossi Abrams (57) was found on the outskirts of Panama City. Debra
Ann Ridgley (56) of Pennsylvania, was later arrested as a suspect in
the killing but had not been formally charged. Police searched for
two other suspects identified as Colombian men, one of whom has
previous drug charges against him.
2007 Jul 4, A top Panamanian
prosecutor said tests show at least 94 people have died from taking
medicine contaminated with diethylene glycol since July 2006 and
that 293 more deaths are under investigation. Total deaths reached
116 from contaminated medications.
(AP, 7/4/07)(AP, 5/10/08)
2007 Jul 20, China said it had
shut down several firms at the heart of food and drug safety scares,
including a chemical plant implicated in the deaths of 94 people in
Panama. China also said that it "strongly opposed" decisions by the
United States to initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty
investigations on imports of some woven sacks and steel pipes from
China. Total deaths in Panama reached 116 from contaminated
(AP, 7/20/07)(Reuters, 7/20/07)(AP, 5/10/08)
2007 Aug 27, Panama’s cabinet
resigned after a tainted medicine scandal and the government’s
failure to implement construction safety standards.
(WSJ, 8/28/07, p.A1)
2007 Sep 1, In Panama Pedro
Miguel Gonzalez Pinzon, a man wanted in the US on charges of
involvement in the killing of an American soldier 15 years ago in
Panama, was elected president of that country's congress.
2007 Sep 3, Panamanian
President Martin Torrijos celebrated the start of construction on
two wider sets of locks being added to both sides of the Panama
2007 Dec 25, In Panama the
bodies of Michael Klein (37), a California hedge fund manager, his
daughter Talia Klein (13) and pilot Edwin Lasso (23) were found in
an uninhabited region known as Las Ovejas on the slope of the Baru
volcano. Francesca Lewis (12) survived the Dec 23 crash, but cold,
wet weather prevented authorities from evacuating her immediately.
(AP, 12/26/07)(SFC, 12/26/07, p.A4)
2008 Apr 4, In Panama Cecilio
Padron (66), a Cuban-American businessman tied to an influential
anti-Castro organization, was kidnapped. He was released on Feb 23,
2009 following a $3 million ransom. Three national police officers
and two civilians were later detained in connection with the
kidnapping. The police were accused of handing Padron over to his
kidnappers in exchange for $500 each.
2008 May 29, Chile's national
police chief and 10 other people were killed when the aging
Panamanian government helicopter they were riding in crashed into a
three-story building in the heart of Panama City.
2008 Jun 9, Panama security
forces found 6 tons of cocaine in 273 packets on board three boats
off Coiba island. Police were searching for 15 people who escaped
2008 Jul 1, Panama's Supreme
Court overturned a presidential pardon of four Cuban emigres accused
of plotting to kill Fidel Castro, including former CIA operative
Luis Posada Carriles. The court ruled that 180 pardons granted in
2004 by outgoing President Mireya Moscoso, including those the four
Cubans, were unconstitutional.
2008 Aug 20, Panama’s President
Martin Torrijos signed an executive order creating a new
intelligence agency and a border police force to combat growing drug
crimes. This prompted concerns of a return to its militarized past.
2009 Feb 28, In Panama Tomas
Altamirano Mantovani (49), a prominent ruling party lawmaker and son
of a former vice president, died in a traffic accident.
2009 Apr, The OECD included
Panama on its “grey list" of countries that show insufficient
financial openness. Panama with its lax corporate laws allows
companies to be created in minutes and registers over 45,000 new
offshore companies a year.
(Econ, 10/31/09, p.46)
2009 May 3, Panama held
elections. Ricardo Martinelli (57), a conservative supermarket
magnate, was favored to win the presidential elections. Martinelli
won the election in a landslide, promising to guide the country
through the world economic crisis and an ambitious expansion of the
Panama Canal. A leaked cable from the US embassy later revealed that
Martinelli requested help in the wiretapping of his political
(AP, 5/3/09)(AP, 5/4/09)(Econ, 11/24/12, p.40)
2009 May 29, The nonbinding New
York Declaration, an agreement between the signatory flag states
which condemns acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels and
seafarers, was originally tabled by The Bahamas, the Republic of
Liberia, the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of
Panama, four nations that account for more than half of global
2009 Jul 1, Businessman Ricardo
Martinelli (57) was sworn in as Panama's new president, promising to
start the biggest job-creation push ever in the country. Martinelli
said he wants to make the nation of 3.3 million inhabitants the best
place to do business in Latin America.
2009 Aug 11, Canada signed a
free trade deal with Panama and said it wanted to conclude more such
agreements, given that talks to open up the global trading system
were going nowhere.
2009 Sep 28, Guillermo Endara
(73), Panama’s former President (1989-1994), died. He led Panama to
democracy after the US invasion that toppled dictator Gen. Manuel
2009 Oct 31, In Playa Blanca,
Panama, 2 teenage boys wounded an American and a Russian tourist in
a botched robbery attempt. Police announced the arrest of the 2
teenagers on Nov 3.
2009 Nov 2, Panama's government
said it is building four air and sea monitoring stations on its
Pacific coast to fight trafficking of drugs, weapons and migrants.
Assistant Interior Minister Alejandro Garuz said the sites will be
manned by the national police, border agents and other government
2010 Jan 14, In Panama former
Pres. Ernesto Perez Balladares (194-1999) was put under house arrest
while authorities investigate accusations that he laundered money.
(AP, 1/15/10)(SFC, 1/15/10, p.A2)
2010 Jan 27, Panama's national
police force killed three guerrillas from a Colombian rebel group in
a confrontation along the sparsely populated frontier between the
two countries. Two others were captured while and one escaped.
2010 Mar 21, In Panama Cheryl
Lynn Hughes (50), an American, went missing in western Bocas del
Toro province. Police on July 20 found her body and the skeletal
remains of another person buried in the back patio of a hotel owned
by William Adolfo Cortez, of Texas.
2010 Apr 30, Panama police
found an arsenal of assault rifles, grenades and almost a half
million rounds of ammunition at the home of Professor Vinicio
Jimenez, a Guatemalan-born sociology professor. Their raid netted 47
assault rifles, 24 machine pistols, 487,900 rounds of ammunition and
almost 4,000 grenades and grenade-style munitions.
2010 Jul 2, A Panamanian court
dropped money laundering charges against former Nicaraguan President
Arnoldo Aleman. The court argued the charges against Aleman were
similar to charges he has faced in Nicaragua.
2010 Jul 7, A French court
convicted Manuel Noriega of money-laundering and sentenced Panama's
former dictator to seven years in jail after he spent two decades in
a US prison.
2010 Jul 8, In western Panama
striking banana plantation workers and police clashed, leaving one
man dead and 100 people hurt. A 2nd man was killed by police on July
(AP, 7/8/10)(Reuters, 7/10/10)
2010 Jul 26, In Nicaragua
William Adolfo Cortez of Texas and his wife Jane, an American couple
wanted in Panama in the March 21 death of a US woman, were arrested
by the Nicaraguan army at the border with Costa Rica.
2010 Jul 30, In Panama William
Dathan Holbert, a jailed US man, admitted killing five other
Americans so he could take over their businesses and other
properties in a Panamanian resort area. Laura Michelle Reese, his
wife, refused to talk. Holbert said his first killings in Panama
occurred about three years ago, when he fatally shot a US citizen
named Mike Brown, his wife and small son in the head.
2010 Aug 3, Authorities in
Panama said they recovered three more bodies on property owned by a
jailed US man who prosecutors say has confessed to killing five
fellow Americans to get their money and property in a Panamanian
2010 Dec 8, In Panama historic
flooding forced the closure of the Panama Canal for the first time
in 21 years.
(SFC, 12/9/10, p.A2)
2010 Dec 10, Panama’s President
Ricardo Martinelli said he will declare a national state of
emergency allowing the government to mobilize more resources for
affected areas. Heavy rains and flooding in Panama have killed 10
people and forced more than 4,700 from their homes.
2011 Feb 10, Panamanian
lawmakers repealed a law preventing foreign government investment in
mining, clearing the way for Canada's Inmet Mining to build the
largest copper mine in Central America.
2011 Feb 24, In Panama Rene
Sanabria, a retired Bolivian police Gen., was arrested at
Washington's request and extradited to the US. He had an initial
federal court appearance in Miami the next day on charges he ran a
cocaine trafficking ring. Sanabria headed the FELCN counternarcotics
police in 2007-2008. Other alleged members of the trafficking
organization were identified by Bolivian authorities as Col. Milton
Sanchez Pantoja, Maj. Edwin Raul Ona Moncada and Capt. Franz
Hernando Siles Rios. On Sep 23 Sanabria was sentenced to 14 years in
(AP, 2/27/11)(SFC, 9/24/11, p.A4)
2011 Feb 25, Panama customs
director Gloria Moreno de Lopez said that nearly a half ton (421
kilos) shark fins were found at Panama's international airport in a
shipment labeled as dried fish. She says the container originated in
Ecuador and was bound for New York City.
2011 Jun 22, In Guatemala the
World Bank unveiled a billion-dollar plan to fund security measures
in Central America, amid other hundred-million-dollar pledges from
donors bidding to cut a wave of drug gang-related violence sweeping
the region. The announcement came as leaders of Belize, Costa Rica,
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama attended the
Central American Security Conference aiming to curb crime fueled by
a spillover from Mexico's war on drug cartels.
2011 Jul 30, Panamanian police
seized more than half a ton of heroin inside an abandoned truck
parked along a road in the remote coastal town of Gobea. It was the
largest seizure of the drug in the country's history.
2011 Aug 2, French authorities
agreed to extradite Manuel Noriega back to Panama.
(SFC, 8/3/11, p.A2)
2011 Sep 5, Authorities in
Panama arrested 80 Panamanians and Colombians breaking up a major
cocaine trafficking organization that moved drugs from Colombia to
Panama and then north to Mexico and the United States.
2011 Sep 16, Authorities in
Panama said they have found five bodies buried under the floor of a
house and believe the remains are of young people of Chinese origin
who were kidnapped for ransom in the past two years.
2011 Oct 12, The US Congress
approved free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and
Panama, ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade
partnerships and giving the White House and Capitol Hill the
opportunity to show they can work together to stimulate the economy
and put people back to work.
2011 Oct 21, Pres. Obama signed
free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
2011 Nov 23, A French court
ruled that former dictator Manuel Noriega can be extradited to
Panama to serve time for past crimes, more than 20 years after being
ousted and arrested in a US invasion.
2011 Dec 3,
In Panama a small plane, piloted by a US citizen, crashed about 50
miles west of Panama City, killing pilot Monty Polo and Panamanian
passenger Josue Cedeno.
2011 Dec 11, Ex-Panama dictator
Noriega was flown home for new punishment after 22 years in US,
2012 Jan 30, In western Panama
members of the Ngobe-Bugle Indian tribe began blocking the
Pan-American Highway to protest changes that the government made to
a mining law and its plans to build dams in their territory.
2012 Feb 5, Panama police fired
tear gas to clear blockades of the Pan-American highway by
indigenous groups protesting changes to the mining law. One person
was killed and 39 injured in the resulting clashes.
2012 Feb 17, In Panama members
of the Ngobe-Bugle Indian tribe again blocked the Pan-American
Highway after a breakdown in negotiations with the government over
2012 Mar 9, In Panama Michel
Smith, a fugitive wanted in Canada for 22 murders, was detained in
the Playa Coronado tourist region. Canadian police have been looking
for Smith, suspected of ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang,
since a massive 2009 gang sweep in the province of Quebec.
2012 Jul 5, In Panama the
International Whaling Commission rejected a request from Denmark for
a whaling quota for indigenous groups in Greenland. Two days earlier
it approved the renewal of bowhead whale quotas for indigenous
subsistence whaling in Alaska and Russia and for St. Vincent and the
Grenadines in the Caribbean. The United States says it doesn't
support a South Korean plan to restart whale hunting for purportedly
2012 Jul 6, Japan, Norway and
their allies blocked a bid to give the UN a greater role in
protecting whales, as sought by conservationists frustrated by deep
polarization over whaling as the International Whaling Commission
closed its latest annual meeting in Panama marred by intense
2012 Oct 26, Panama's
government said it will cancel plans to sell state-owned land in a
duty-free zone on the Panama Canal following a week of sometimes
violent protests in which a 10-year-old boy and two adults died.
2012 Dec 12, Spanish
authorities said they have arrested a Panamanian woman arriving at
Barcelona airport from Bogota, Colombia, with 1.38 kg (3 pounds) of
cocaine concealed in breast implants.
2012 Dec 19, A new Gallup poll
said seven of the world’s 10 countries with the most upbeat
attitudes are in Latin America with Panama and Paraguay at the top.
The people least likely to report positive emotions lived in
(SFC, 12/20/12, p.A2)
2013 Jul 15, Panama's president
said the country has seized a North Korean-flagged freighter
carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that
had set sail from Cuba. North Korea and Cuba said the weapons were
antiquated and were being sent for repair. North Korea called for
the release of the ship and its and 35 crew members.
(AP, 7/16/13)(SFC, 7/18/13, p.A4)(SFC, 7/19/13,
2013 Jul 17, Robert Seldon Lady
(59), a former CIA base chief convicted in the 2003 abduction of a
terror suspect from an Italian street, was detained in Panama after
Italy requested his arrest in one of the most notorious episodes of
the US program known as extraordinary rendition. After barely a day
in detention, he was put on a plane to the US by the Panamanian
(AP, 7/18/13)(AP, 7/19/13)
2013 Oct 11, A Panamanian
official said two Cuban fighter jets seized from a North Korean ship
in July were in perfect condition to operate and the 15 plane
engines that were found along with them were relatively new and
could be used as replacements.
2013 Oct 18, In Panama the 23rd
Ibero-American summit opened. Half the presidents of member nations
failed to show for the 2-day meeting, revealing the foundering
direction of the annual forum. At the close instead of meeting
annually, they decided to get together every other year instead.
(AP, 10/19/13)(AFP, 10/19/13)
2013 Oct 26, Panama granted
asylum to an Ecuadoran opposition politician sentenced to prison
last month for his role in a multiple homicide case, finding that he
was subjected to political persecution. Tito Galo Lara Yepez (45)
was convicted on Sep 2 as an accomplice in the murder of an
Ecuadoran couple and their four-year-old child and sentenced in
absentia to 10 years in prison.
2013 Nov 27, Panama said it is
freeing most of the 35 North Korean crew members it detained more
than four months ago for smuggling Cuban weapons aboard a ship.
2014 Jan 30, Panama’s judicial
authorities ordered the release of 32 of 35 crew members of a North
Korean ship detained last July for carrying hidden arms from Cuba.
The Chon Chon Gang was carrying Cuban fighter jects and missiles.
Owners this month agreed to pay a $670,000 fine.
(SFC, 1/31/14, p.A2)
2014 Feb 5, A planned extension
of the Panama Canal, one of the world's most important shipping
routes, was thrown into doubt after a group of companies, led by
Spanish builder Sacyr, said its talks with Panama's government over
how to expand the canal had fallen apart. Panama Canal Authority
head Jorge Quijano said the expansion project will be completed in
2015 with or without a Spanish-led consortium.
2014 Mar 5, Venezuela broke
ties with Panama. President Nicolas Maduro said he was breaking
diplomatic and commercial relations with the Panamanian government
due to a "conspiracy" against him.
(Reuters, 3/5/14)(Econ, 3/8/14, p.40)
2014 Apr 5, Panama’s President
Ricardo Martinelli inaugurated Central America's first subway
system, the most-emblematic project of a five-year term marked by
fast economic growth and more than a hint of hubris.
2014 May 4, Panamanians voted
in presidential elections. Conservative Juan Carlos Varela won the
election easily defeating Jose Domingo Arias, Pres. Martinelli's
hand-picked successor 39% to 32%.
(AP, 5/4/14)(AFP, 5/514)(SSFC, 7/6/14, p.A4)
2014 Jun 22, In Panama US
Master Sgt. Omar Velez-Pagan (37) ran his girlfriend Vanesa
Rodriguez (25) over with a truck and hid her body. On March 29,
2016, Velez-Pagan was sentenced in North Carolina to 30 years in
military prison by a jury of five military officers.
2014 Jun 27, A Panamanian judge
acquitted and ordered the immediate release of the last three of 35
North Koreans detained last year for trying to transport undeclared
Cuban weapons through the Panama Canal. The decision was based on
the fact that the incident "was of international character and
outside Panamanian jurisdiction."
2014 Jul 1, Panama’s Pres. Juan
Carlos Varela gave a speech following his inauguration and issued a
decree to freeze the price of 22 staple goods. He also announced
amnesty to some 200 gang members who surrender their weapons.
(SSFC, 7/6/14, p.A4)
2014 Nov 23, In Belize the body
of Panamanian diplomat Jose Rodrigo De La Rosa (64) was found near a
highway on the outskirts of Belmopan with cut wounds on his head and
neck. On Nov 26 Wilsner Echeveria (19) was charged with the murder.
Relatives claimed Echeveria had been defending himself against a
sexual attack by De la Rosa.
2015 Jan 31, Panama expelled a
former Colombian intelligence chief, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, to
face charges at home of illegally intercepting phone calls from
opposition Colombian lawmakers.
2015 Jan, Panama’s Supreme
Court voted to launch an investigation into former Pres. Ricardo
Martinelli’s role in a corruption case involving a $45 million
program to deliver dried food to the poor.
(Econ, 2/7/15, p.33)
2015 Mar, A judge in Las Vegas
ruled that Panama-based Mossack Fonseca and MF Nevada were one and
the same. Under American law this allowed any investigator anywhere
in the world to subpoena Mossack through the Nevada subsidiary for
information relevant to cases in any country.
(Econ, 4/16/15, p.61)
2015 Apr 7, Panama's Electoral
Tribunal lifted former President Ricardo Martinelli's immunity from
prosecution, clearing the way for authorities to investigate him for
2015 Apr 10, President Barack
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands at the opening of
the Summit of the Americas in Panama, a symbolically charged gesture
as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes.
2015 Apr 11, President Barack
Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas
in Panama in the highest-level talks between the two countries in
nearly 60 years. The two men agreed to push ahead on improving
relations after decades of hostility.
2015 May, In Panama investors
and residents of the 70-floor Trump Ocean Club overwhelmingly
rejected a Trump-backed proposal to recoup more than $2 million of
building administration debt through a special assessment of owners.
Trump’s management company was soon ousted. Donald Trump later
demanded as much as $75 million from condo owners alleging that his
managers were wrongfully fired.
(SFC, 11/5/15, p.A6)
2015 Aug 26, Panama's top court
canceled a $120 million government contract to purchase a radar
system from Italian industrial giant Finmeccanica due to corruption
concerns. A government lawsuit argued that the contract signed by
former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) was the product of
bribes and kickbacks.
2015 Dec 21, Panama’s Supreme
Court ordered the detention of Pres. Ricardo Martinelli for
allegedly intercepting communications of at least 150 people during
his 2009-2014 administration. Martinelli said he would stay outside
the country while fighting the charges.
(SFC, 12/23/15, p.A2)
2016 Apr 3, A year-long
worldwide media investigation into a trove of 11.5 million
documents, leaked from Panama-based from legal firm Mossack Fonseca
with offices in 35 countries, exposed a tangle of offshore financial
dealings by the elite, from Russia’s Pres. Putin's aides to
relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, sports celebrities and
screen stars. The files had been anonymously passed to Suddeutsche
Zeitung, a German newspaper and emerged in an investigation
published by the International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists (ICIJ). The “Panama papers" unveiled the offshore
holdings of 140 politicians and officials, including twelve current
and former presidents, monarchs and prime ministers.
(AFP, 4/4/16)(Reuters, 4/4/16)(Econ, 4/9/16,
2016 Apr 4, Norway's government
invited the heads of top company boards to talks on corruption as
offshore banking revelations added to a string of allegations over
the ethics of some of the country's largest firms. The invitation
followed the leak of more than 11.5 million documents from the files
of a Panama-based law firm, allegedly showing how clients avoided
tax or laundered money.
2016 Apr 5, French finance
minister Michel Sapin said France will put Panama back on its
blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions, after media
revelations about a Panamanian law firm specialised in setting up
2016 Apr 8, Authorities in El
Salvador raided the local offices of Panamanian law firm Mossack
Fonseca, seizing documents and equipment.
2016 Apr 12, Panamanian
authorities raided the head offices of law firm Mossack Fonseca
regarding recently leaked documents about offshore firms it had
(Econ, 4/16/16, p.60)
2016 May 4, Colombian
authorities in Bogota arrested Nidal Waked (46), a prominent Panama
businessman sought by the United States, and dismantled an empire of
businesses that the US says were part of a top worldwide
money-laundering organization for drug traffickers.
2016 Jun 26, Panama formally
inaugurated the newly expanded locks of the Panama Canal. The $5.25
billion project was initially scheduled for completion in October
2014, but was delayed by slow approvals for concrete to use in the
locks, labor strikes and leaks detected late last year.
2016 Jul 7, Brazilian police
seized documents and questioned suspects to investigate Panama's FPB
Bank in connection to a sweeping graft probe of political corruption
at state-run companies.
2016 Aug 9, Panama promised to
help hundreds of migrants who have crossed its jungle border from
Colombia to carry on toward the United States.
2017 Feb 9, Panamanian
prosecutors took law firm partners Ramon Fonseca Mora and Jurgen
Mossack into custody and searched their offices. The Mossack-Fonseca
firm has been accused of setting up offshore accounts that allowed
the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht to funnel bribes to
multiple countries. On April 21 Mora and Mossack were released on
(SSFC, 2/12/17, p.A4)(SSFC, 4/23/17, p.A4)
2017 Feb 13, Former Panamanian
Vice-President Ricardo Arias Calderon (83) died. He had served under
President Guillermo Endara after President Manuel Noriega was ousted
in a 1989 military invasion.
2017 Mar 5, In Panama a bus
carrying farmworkers went off a highway in Anton killing 18 people
and injuring 37 others.
(SFC, 3/6/17, p.A2)
2017 Apr 15, In Panama
international soccer player Amilcar Henriquez (33) was shot and
killed in Colon province. Another two people were wounded.
2017 May 29, Manuel Noriega
(83), Panama’s de facto ruler from 1983 to 1989, died at home in
Panama. He spent all but the last few months of his final years in a
(AP, 5/30/17)(Econ 6/3/17, p.82)
2017 Jul 1, In Costa Rica a
5-hour power blackout affected some five million people. The power
outage plunged millions of people across Central America into
darkness, as authorities from Panama to Costa Rica to El Salvador
scrambled to restore electrical service. Authorities pinned blame
for the power outages on a downed Panamanian transmission line that
adversely affected the power supply for much of the region.
2017 Nov 14, Panamanian
President Juan Carlos Varela departed on his first official visit to
China after establishing diplomatic ties with the country five
2017 Dec 5, The European Union
put 17 non-EU countries on a blacklist of those it deems guilty of
unfairly offering tax avoidance schemes. They Included: American
Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau,
Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, St. Lucia,
Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. Over
40 more were put on a "grey list" to be monitored until they are
fully committed to reforms.
2018 Jan 23, European Union
finance ministers agreed to remove eight jurisdictions from the
bloc's blacklist of tax havens, one month after the list was set up.
Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macao, Mongolia, Tunisia and the
United Arab Emirates joined Panama as jurisdictions delisted
following commitments made at a high political level to remedy EU
2018 Mar 5, In Panama City
executives of a luxury Trump hotel were ousted after a Panamanian
judicial official and police backed Orestes Fintiklis, the hotel’s
majority owner. Lawyers for the Trump organization held that their
management contract was still valid. In 2017 Fintiklis signed an
agreement not to challenge Trump’s management contract, but changed
course arguing mismanagement.
(SFC, 3/6/18, p.A5)
2018 Jun 11, The US extradited
former Panamanian Pres. Ricardo Martinelli (66) back to Panama to
face political espionage and embezzlement charges.
2018 Sep 8, It was reported
that the United States has recalled its envoys to the Dominican
Republic, El Salvador and Panama after decisions by those nations to
cut ties with Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with China.
2018 Sep 23, Panama's maritime
authority said it has begun procedures to remove the registration of
Aquarius 2 after Italy complained the boat's captain failed to
follow orders to return rescued migrants to Libya. Humanitarian
groups described Panama's move as shameful.
2018 Dec 31, A Panamanian car
carrier heading from Japan to Hawaii caught fire. Nearby merchant
vessels rescued 16 crew members. Three were found dead in the water
and two were missing.
(SFC, 1/3/19, p.A6)
2019 Jan 24, Panama's President
Juan Carlos Varela met with Pope Francis at the presidential palace.
The Pope insisted that public officials live simply, honestly and
transparently as he opened a visit to Panama and a region that has
been rife with corruption scandals.
2019 Jan 25, In Panama Pope
Francis brought World Youth Day to the Las Garzas de Pacora
detention center so that its inmates, even behind barbed wire
fencing, could participate in the Catholic Church's big festival of
2019 Jan 27, In Panama Pope
Francis celebrated mass with hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims
as he wound up a five-day visit during which he defended Central
American migrants and acknowledged the Church had been hurt by sex
2019 Mar 22, Prosecutors said
Panama's ex-president Ricardo Martinelli faces up to 21 years in
jail for spying on political foes, reporters and business leaders
while in power.
2019 Apr 2, Panama's President
Juan Carlos Varela visited Hong Kong amid ambitious plans and
proposals for Chinese-built bridges and rail lines in pan in Panama.
2019 May 5, Panama held
presidential elections. Social democrat Laurentino Cortizo (66), a
veteran politician and former agriculture minister, won the
(Reuters, 5/05/19)(AFP, 5/06/19)
2019 Jun 12, A Panamanian court
ordered former President Ricardo Martinelli (67) to be transferred
from jail to house arrest following his completion of a one-year
2019 Jun 25, A 6.3 magnitude
earthquake hit the Costa Rica-Panama border around midnight.
Seismologists said the disaster was "potentially widespread".
2019 Jun 28, Panama inaugurated
a visitors' center to improve access to the colonial-era San Lorenzo
Fort. Due to neglect it came to be placed on a UNESCO list of sites
at risk. The fort was built in the late 16th century to defend the
mouth of the Chagres River.
2019 Jul 19, Panama's maritime
authority began the process of withdrawing the registration of an
oil tanker called MT Riah, which was towed to Iran after it
disappeared from ship tracking maps in the Strait of Hormuz on July
14. The authority said an investigation has determined the tanker
had "deliberately violated international regulations" by not
reporting any unusual situation.
2019 Jul, Panama became the
first Latin American country to outlaw plastic bags.
(Econ, 7/27/19, p.57)
2019 Aug 9, A Panamanian court
declared former president Ricardo Martinelli not guilty of charges
that he spied on 150 people, including politicians, union leaders
and journalists during his 2009-2014 presidency, and ordered his
2019 Dec 17, In Panama at least
12 people were killed and another 13 were injured during a shootout
among inmates at La Joyita prison near Panama City.
2020 Jan 13, In Panama seven
villagers were slain by “The New Light of God" religious cult, while
14 more were rescued the next day by police who found them bound and
beaten in a temple in El Terrón. Nine villagers were soon arrested
and charged with murder.
2020 Mar 9, Panama confirmed
its first coronavirus case.
2020 Mar 27, The Seattle-based
Holland American cruise line, owneed by Carnival Corp., said four
passengers have died aboard the Zaandam now anchored off the coast
of Panama. Two people have tested positive for the coronavirus and
more than 130 have reported flu-like symptoms. The ship carried
1,243 guests and 586 crew.
(SFC, 3/28/20, p.A2)
2020 Mar 30, The MS Zaandam
exited the Panama Canal. At least 189 people aboard the Holland
America Line cruise ship were suffering flu-like symptoms and four
people have died.
(Good Morning America, 3/30/20)
2020 Mar 31, Panama announced
strict quarantine measures that separate citizens by gender. From
April 1 for 15 days, men and women will only be able to leave their
homes for two hours at a time, and on different days.
2020 Apr 17, It was reported
that Bogota, Colombia, has joined Panama this week in instituting a
gender-based virus protection measure designed to limit the number
of people in the streets. Men can leave the house for essentials on
odd-numbered days and women on even-numbered days. Exceptions were
made for people in critical industries.
(SFC, 4/17/20, p.A5)
2020 May 14, The government of
Panama said 43 migrants have tested positive for the novel
coronavirus and 119 others who came in contact with them are in
quarantine at a relief station near the border with Colombia.
2020 Jun 27, It was reported
that new daily coronavirus cases in Panama have nearly trippled from
below 200 per day and that deaths this month were coming twice as
(SFC, 6/27/20, p.A6)
2020 Sep 15, It was reported
that authorities in Panama have discovered a mass grave they believe
contains the bodies of people tortured and killed by a religious
cult. The deceased victims included a pregnant mother and her five
children, and the family’s teenage neighbor.
(The Independent, 9/15/20)