The Republic of Panama is a former Spanish colony in Central America with a mixed population of Creoles, mestizos, European immigrants, Africans, and indigenous people. Its geographical location has made it a central concern of many countries over the years as it is an important land bridge between two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and was a commercial route for centuries. The Spanish and the French tried to build a canal across Panama but failed. The United States however achieved this goal in 1914 as well as controlling the Canal Zone between 1903 and 1978, and helping Panama gain its independence from Colombia in 1903. The US used Panama as a strategic position for its military, and Panama developed strong ties with the US politically and economically as well as culturally.
However in the late 1970s Panamanians revolted against the American colonization of their land and forced the Americans to forego their control of the canal. In 1983 General Manuel Antonio Noriega came to power and began a dictatorship fueled by corruption and drug trafficking which forced the US, despite earlier relations with Noriega, to impose sanctions on Panama. In 1989, the US invaded Panama in the Operation Just Cause and they captured Noriega. After the invasion Guillermo Endara Galimeny, who had defeated Noriega in democratic elections, became the president and restored constitutional order and abolished the military.
Gloria Guardia’s El último Juego (The Last Game) depicts the ways in which Panama has fallen prey to the commercial interests of the West and how, as a result of this, the country is defined as a transit area, a meeting place for different powers. Other popular writers are Alfredo Cantón and José Luis Rodríguez Pittí. A 1992 documentary on the removal by US Army forces of Manuel Noriega, The Panama Deception portrays an intimate version of this major event in the young nation's history. One Dólar, el Precio de la Vida, is another documentary that portrays the history of Panama and the life in its slums.