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1830 - Panama becomes part of Colombia following the collapse of Gran Colombia.

1846 - Panama signs treaty with US allowing it to build a railway across the isthmus.

1880s - France attempts to build a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but fails due to financial difficulties and the deathmof more than 20,000 workers from tropical diseases.

1903 - Panama splits from Colombia and becomes fully independent. US buys rights to build Panama Canal and is given control of the Canal Zone in perpetuity.

1914 - Panama Canal opened.

1939 - Panama ceases to be a US protectorate.

1968-81 - General Omar Torrijos Herrera, the National Guard chief, overthrows the elected president and imposes a dictatorship.

1977 - US agrees to transfer the canal to Panama as from 31 December 1999.

1983 - Former intelligence chief and one-time US Central Intelligence Agency informant Manuel Noriega becomes head of the National Guard, builds up the size of the force, renamed the Panama Defence Forces, and greatly increases its power over Panama's political and economic life.

1988 - US charges Noriega with drugs smuggling; Noriega declares state of emergency in the wake of a failed coup.

1989 - Opposition wins parliamentary elections, but Noriega declares results invalid. Noriega declares "state of war" in the face of increased threats by Washington. US invades Panama, ousts Noriega and replaces him with Guillermo Endara.

1991 - Parliament approves constitutional reforms, including abolition of standing army; privatisation begins.

1992 - US court finds Noriega guilty of drug offences and sentences him to 40 years imprisonment, to bo served in a US prison.

1998 - Referendum rejects constitutional amendment that would permit the president to run for a second term.

1999 - Mireya Moscoso becomes Panama's first woman president.

1999 December - Panama takes full control of the Panama Canal, ending nearly a century of American jurisdiction over one of the world's most strategic waterways.

2000 - Moscoso announces creation of a panel to investigate crimes committed while military governments were in power between 1968 and 1989.

2002 January - President Moscoso sets up a commission to investigate corruption. The move follows large street protests against alleged graft in government circles.

2002 April - Panama removed from list of uncooperative tax havens, drawn up by Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, after promising to make its tax system more transparent.

2003 September - National strike over management of social security fund paralyses public services. More than 40 hurt in clashes.

2004 May - Martin Torrijos, son of former dictator Omar Torrijos, wins presidential elections.

2004 August/September - President Moscoso pardons four Cuban exiles Havana accuses of plotting to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro. Cuba severs diplomatic ties. Newly-inaugurated President Martin Torrijos pledges to repair relations; both countries agree in November to restore ties.

2004 November - Panama Canal earns record revenues of $1 billion for the financial year.

2005 May-June - Plans to increase pension contributions and raise the retirement age spark weeks of protests and strikes. President Torrijos had promised to reform the cash-strapped social security system.

We can see, then, that even a state such as Panama, with control of a key resource and a fair service sector, has found it difficult to generate a balance between different internal and external forces. The issue here is not so much a question of throwing off dependency, but rather shaping it into an interdependence whereby Latin America nations can begin to influence the terms of transnational activity in turn. Only in this way will Latin America be able to set and maintain their own national policies in the long term: -

Lecture 12

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