Panama. The government announced plans for a security pact with the United States to curb intrusion into the southern provinces of Darién and San Blás by the warring parties in the Colombian civil war. The pact also intends to fight drug trafficking.
In April 1991, Endara dissolved the alliance with the Christian Democrats and removed the party’s 5 ministers. The government’s lack of stability came, among other things. expressed in 5 failed coup attempts during its first 2 years. At the January 1991 supplementary elections, the opposition party received a major electoral victory and demanded the re-election.
In late 1991, the lawsuit began against Manuel Antonio Noriega in Miami. Here, the ex-dictator’s close relations with the CIA and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) were revealed. At the same time, it emerged that a legal commission of inquiry, which also included President Endara, had contacts with 14 companies involved in the laundering of drug dollars. Finally, the DEA was able to report that drug traffic had intensified following the invasion. In June 1992, Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The government suffered severe defeat when a referendum to amend the constitution on November 15, 1992 was won by no since by 63.5% against 31.5%. In particular, the people had rejected the formal dissolution of the country’s defense forces. The government was further weakened when Second Vice President, Christian Democrat Ricardo Arias Calderón resigned, accusing President Endara of being incapable of handling the social crisis.
Other corruption scandals shook the country in the wake of the sentencing of Noriega. In August 1993, it emerged that Panama, through its Barcelona consulate, had purchased weapons for the Serbian forces in Bosnia. The disclosure led to the resignation of Foreign Minister Julio Linares. He had been directly involved in the case.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Panama. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
1994 PRD back in power
In 1994, economist Ernesto Pérez Balladares was elected president with 34% of the vote. He was former minister and declared admirer of Omar Torrijos. Balladares was a candidate for the Social Democratic-oriented alliance Pueblo Unido (the United People), made up of the PRD, the Liberal Republican Party and the Labor Party. Mireya Moscoso of the right-wing Democratic Alliance got 29% of the vote, while singer Ruben Blades of the Movement “Papa Egoró” got 17%. These were the first general elections following the US invasion of the country.
In June 1994, the Kuna and embera people condemned the construction of a road through their autonomous territories. They received support from environmental groups and from the Catholic Church. The road was to pass through the Darien rainforest – a 550,000-acre site declared by UNESCO for humanity’s common property. The 108 km road was to connect Panama with Colombia. For many years this forest area has been exposed to illegal felling of its oak, cedar and mahogany trees. Furthermore, coca bushes are grown in the area and weapons are smuggled through it.
In January 1995, a plan for the assassination of President Pérez Balladares and several ministers of his government was revealed. Ten members of the National Police were arrested for conspiracy, but the investigation was suspended because of the lack of evidence.
The country continued to play an important role in the arms, drug and money laundering trade of drug dollars. During the inspection of a package that was supposed to contain drugs, it exploded, killing 3 customs officials and wounding 25. The box of ammunition and grenades had been sent to an address in Ecuador – presumably to a guerrilla group. Two weapons depots belonging to a Colombian were also discovered in the capital.
The government implemented labor market reform aimed at attracting foreign investment. It triggered strikes and other conflicts when it emerged that workers’ protection was reduced and the rights to form trade unions and collective bargaining were curtailed. The clashes between workers, students and police in August cost 4 killed and 86 wounded, yet the law reform was passed.
The Panama-US negotiations on the transfer of the canal in 1999 began to talk about continuing North American military presence in the country even after 1999. In July, Pérez Balladares declared the Howard airbase would remain in North American hands – “for the purpose of restricting drug traffic”. This year, the US military spent $ 319 million in Panama, equivalent to 5% of the country’s GDP.
The announcement of the continued presence of the North American troops in Panama took place after it was revealed that Balladares himself had received money from the Cali drug cartel in Colombia ifbm. its 1994 election campaign. The president acknowledged having received money but refused to know where they came from. This scandal was followed by the closure of the bank Banco Agro Industrial y Comercial due to its extensive debt and participation in the laundering of drug dollars.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Panama in 2000 was 3,030,217, ranking number 134 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.040% yearly, and the population density was 40.7631 people per km2.