by Carlos Guevara Mann
Ohio University Press, 1996
Paper: 978-0-89680-189-9
Library of Congress Classification F1566.G85 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 322.5097287

Carlos Guevara Mann argues that Panamanian militarism, a consequence of the breakdown of legitimacy that occurred in the early nineteenth century, is more a manifestation of a deeply-rooted political tradition than an isolated phenomenon of the late twentieth century. He examines the variable US policy approach to domestic stability with the overall context of US hegemony in the isthmus and its shaping of Panamanian militarism.

Focusing on the causes that generated nineteenth-century predatory militarism, including political illegitimacy and US support, Guevara Mann analyzes the so-called professionalization of the armed forces — institutionalized militarism — and the polices developed by the 1968-89 military regime.

The author cautions that although Panamanian Defense Forces were abolished after the US invasion of December 1989, and although the state’s security apparatus has been placed under civilian direction, Panama’s stability remains threatened. Lack of legitimacy — the characteristic which informs military involvement in politics — still persists, and militarism could well reappear if the Panamanian polity fails to achieve legitimacy.