The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 39, Issue 2

Article 1
Beyond United States Hegemony: Colombia’s Persistent Role in the Shaping and Reshaping of Panama

Steve C. Ropp


The central argument of this essay is that, despite the common view that the
country of Panama has been historically shaped and reshaped by the hegemonic influence of the United States, it has been Colombian power, norms and culture that have had the most enduring impact. More specifically, forces emanating from the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia have given Panama its most enduring ideological feature (liberal nationalism), as well as its “essential” cultural attributes. In support of this argument, this essay traces the influence of Colombian power, norms and culture on Panama through three distinct periods: those of Colombian influence (1821–1903), suppressed influence under US hegemony (1903–2000), and renewed influence following the US departure (2000 to the present).