In the News from Panama

Expert: Panama ‘Thriving’ 30 Years After Noriega

This month marks the 30 year anniversary of the ouster of Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, which now seems like ages ago to anyone involved with Panama. Since Noriega’s removal, “Panama is flourishing” and sits as an icon of progress in Latin America, writes international affairs expert Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, in a new article in the scholarly Americas Quarterly.

In his article, Farnsworth examines the growth of Panama since Noriega, and the influence of the United States on the past, present, and future of the country.

“The economy has averaged almost 6 percent annual growth since the restoration of democracy, and yet another free and fair election and peaceful transition of power in 2019 shows that democracy is secure,” Farnsworth writes.

Farnsworth, who served as a foreign affairs officer in the Panama office of the U.S. State Department, makes the case for the United States to increase its role in Panama. In recent decades, Panama is an example of the region’s shift from “unquestioned U.S. hegemony to full-throated competition for regional influence between the United States and hemispheric outsiders, namely China but others as well.”

Farnsworth raises interesting points about how Panama, as it has grown as an economic leader, has grown its relationships globally, even as it remains close to the United States. The U.S should do more to strengthen that relationship, especially in the face of the growing competition, he argues. has “regressed to a form of development and social work rather than the pursuit of core U.S. interests,” he writes. “Trade was no longer prioritized as an important tool for regional influence.”

The underlying themes in Farnsworth’s articles point to Panama’s continued influence and potentiaU.S. policy l as a regional economic leader. The U.S. should look to grow trades and business connections, which would serve as a catalyst for future growth in Panama and preserve a strong investment international investment climate.

Panama is “a nation that, like all of the Americas, must be courted actively if Washington is to advance U.S. interests effectively,” Farnsworth writes. “We now have no choice but to contend anew for Panama—and for the Americas.”