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Putting the Canal on the Map : Panamanian Agenda-setting and the 1973 Security Council Meetings

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posted on 2023-08-04, 12:16 authored by Tom Long

In the early 1970s, Panama’s negotiations with the United States over the status of the Panama Canal had come to a frustrating standstill. The military government of Omar Torrijos had rejected the unratified treaties tabled by Marco Robles and Lyndon B. Johnson, only to find itself facing much less generous positions from the Nixon administration. Realizing that the issue of the canal was being ignored in Washington, the Panamanian government launched a new strategy of internationalizing the previously bilateral issue. To do so, it created and exploited an unusual, high-profile forum: extraordinary meetings of the U.N. Security Council in March 1973. In those meetings, Panama deftly isolated the United States in order to raise the issue’s profile and amplify the costs of leaving the matter unsettled. By using underutilized Panamanian sources, this article looks at how that meeting occurred, the burst of progress that followed, and how this early stage shaped the environment for the final negotiations under Jimmy Carter several years later.





This is a pre-peer-reviewed version of Tom Long, “Putting the Canal on the Map: Panamanian Agenda-setting and the 1973 Security Council Meetings,” Diplomatic History, (forthcoming).


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