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The Weak and the Powerful (Hardback)

Omar Torrijos, Washington, and the Non-Aligned Movement

Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Series: Pitt Latin American Series
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780822948070
Published: 15th June 2024
Casemate UK Academic

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Panama is a country whose geopolitical importance outweighs its size because of the volume of trade that passes the Central American isthmus through the canal. For nearly a century, the United States occupied and controlled the Panama Canal Zone and its shipping operations. In 1999, control was passed to Panama’s Canal Authority. This peaceful transfer was a result of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties. The Weak and the Powerful studies how a weak country negotiated the Cold War and how a strongman navigated between competing power blocs. Omar Torrijos took power in Panama through a 1968 coup d’état and ruled that country until his death in 1981. He committed his country to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which purported to stand for noninterference and against imperialism. Jonathan C. Brown looks at how Torrijos and the NAM were able to mobilize world opinion of the weak against the powerful to pressure the United States to live up to its democratic and international ideals regarding sovereignty of the canal. The author also demonstrates how world opinion was unable to address the problems of ideologically motivated warfare in neighboring Central American states.

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