On the Panamanian headland, the chibcha civilization developed (muiscas; See: Colombia). It was one of the great cultures in America. The society was sharply stratified, it had an evolved architecture and developed advanced goldsmiths and scientific recognition in a variety of disciplines.
In 1508, the Spanish crown decided to initiate the conquest of the so-called “fixed country” from Central America to Venezuela. The Spanish conquistador, Diego de Nicuesa, was assigned to colonize the so-called Castilla del Oro – the present Panama and Costa Rica. But the conquest failed. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was sent to find the supposed South Sea. On September 25, he reached the ocean, which was christened the Pacific.
According to Countryaah, the short distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific at this location was to determine the historical fate of the landlock due to its great geopolitical significance. Panama became a trading center of importance for the Spanish trade monopoly. The ships from Spain arrived at the port city of Portobelo on the Atlantic coast. The cargo was then carried over the moorland of mules to Panama City. From there, the goods were distributed along the entire Pacific coast of Spanish America – from San Francisco in the north to Santiago in the south. The concentration of wealth also attracted English pirates and freighters. Francis Drake destroyed Portobelo in 1596 and Henry Morgan burned Panama in 1671.
Panama was subject to the Viceroy of Peru until the reforms of the Bourbon in 1717 made it part of Nueva Granada. It remained part of Greater Colombia for independence from Spain in 1821.
Because of its position as a hub of trade and communication routes linking all of Spanish America, Panama was chosen by Simón Bolívar as the host of the Continental Conference, which, after independence, was to consolidate the continent’s unity. The conference was held in 1826, but without the scope the liberator had hoped. The economic decline of the late 18th century and the reshuffle of trade routes explain why Panama was unable to expand its geopolitical significance after the break with Spain and why it did not form an independent state after seceding from Great Colombia in 1830.
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When the Civil War broke out in Nueva Granada in 1831, Panama broke out in ca. 1 year out with the purpose of building the Confederation Colombia and otherwise maintaining its autonomy, but not until 1855 was the State of Panama established in federation with Nueva Granada (present Colombia).
Under the presidency of Juan Demóstenes Arosemena, the border dispute with Colombia was resolved (1937); the modification of the annuities relating to the Canal Zone ($ 430,000 instead of $ 250,000 gold) was ratified by the US Senate only in 1939, after a certain diplomatic tension. But with the European war, and the declaration of neutrality, the close collaboration between the two countries resumed, even after Arosemena (who died on December 16, 1939) was succeeded by the first vice president AS Boyd, former ambassador to Washington, under whom the works for the defense of the Canal and for the road between Panama and Colón compensated for the decrease in tourist revenues. The elections of June 2, 1940, with the retirement of the opposition candidate, former president RJ Alfaro, who alleged the lack of freedom, led Arnulfo Arias to the presidency on 1 October. He drafted a new constitution that extended the president’s term of office from 4 to 6 years, with wider powers, removed the electorate from non-Spanish-speaking Negroes and prohibited the immigration of “Africans” and Asians. Arias carried out various reforms (judicial organization, social insurance, etc.), but provoked a certain opposition for the suppression of freedom, the xenophobic attitude and a certain sympathy for the totalitarian powers. In March, yielding to considerable internal and external pressures, he authorized the US to build defensive preparations for the Canal also outside the Zone; but in September he banned from loving Panamanian ships, including about 125 North American-owned steamships, registered in Panama to circumvent US neutrality law A peaceful coup (it was said, organized by the US) ousted him; skillfully exploiting the circumstances and the letter of the constitution, a series of maneuvers led to the presidency of RA de la Guardia. He allowed the ships to be armed and, on December 9, 1941, declared war on Japan and on December 10, on Germany and Italy, seizing various steamers, including the transatlantic Biancamano. The enemy foreigners were subjected to strict supervision, the Spanish chargé d’affaires Count de Bailén was expelled, and the US was allowed to build various bases; the presence of numerous American troops and the works for the strengthening and defense of the Canal compensated for the lack of income from tourism. On January 4, 1943, the National Assembly renewed the mandate of De la Guardia for 2 years, and the latter, faced with the agitation of the followers of Arias, on December 29 suspended the constitution, replaced the ministers, suppressed the contrary demonstrations. But the end of the works on the Canal and the consequent unemployment, which they tried to remedy with a program of building construction and agricultural development, increased the discomfort, now aggravated also by the scarcity of food. L’ Arbitration of Chile made it possible to definitively resolve the dispute with Costa Rica and on 18 October (Chilean national holiday) 1944 the presidents of the two countries met on the new border. Meanwhile, however, opposition to the president was growing: the liberal party, headed by F. Arias Pamedes, (who later died in Medellín, Colombia, in July 1946) asked for a constituent; while A. Arias pleaded the unconstitutionality of the appointment of De la Guardia, an assembly of notables asked for his resignation. He dissolved the assembly, held elections on May 6, 1945, which were favorable to the government party and, granted an amnesty, resigned on June 15, succeeding him as provisional president LA Jiménez. The new government allowed A. Arias to return but, in the face of political unrest, had him arrested. In June, diplomatic relations were established with the USSR, in September Panama recognized the Spanish republican government in exile. The National Assembly approved the new constitution on February 28, 1946, and extended the powers of the provisional president until September 30, 1948. A vast public works plan was only partially realized (airport, power plant of Panama), but the budget conditions prevented paying the annual contribution to UNRRA in 1946 and in December the salaries of state employees had to be reduced. In July 1946, the Supreme Court acquitted A. Arias of having instigated the revolution of December 1945.
The most serious question was that of the bases and other North American war facilities. The US returned 71 to Panama until 1946, and were preparing to return another 27 out of 134 (as well as small thermal installations), but wished to keep 14, including the one for bombers in Rio Hato, near Panama. Long negotiations led to the agreement of December 10, 1947, which the national assembly, on the 23rd, unanimously denied ratification: in January 1948, the American troops withdrew within the Canal Zone.
The elections of May 9, 1948 were accompanied and followed by mutual accusations of fraud, turbulence, the state of siege: on July 12, the national assembly with 26 votes to 25, appointed E. Obarrio provisional president: an election declared unconstitutional, however. by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Electoral Tribunal, on 7 August, declared D. Díaz Arosemena elected, with 78,212 votes, against 75,848 to A. Arias, who, having taken refuge abroad, on 17 August was arrested in Costa Rica, accused of preparing a revolutionary invasion. On 1 October the Díaz took possession of the office, and lifted the state of siege.