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U.S. Bases in Latin America and the Caribbean: Overview

The United States maintained a constant military presence in Panama between 1903 and 1999.  In an effort to improve the United States’ relationship with Latin America, U.S. President Jimmy Carter negotiated a 1977 treaty with Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos arranging for the gradual handover of the canal and the military bases.

On December 31, 1999, the last U.S. military personnel left Panama in compliance with the 1977 accords. The last U.S. facilities in Panama to close were Fort Clayton, Fort Kobbe, Howard Air Force Base, Fort Sherman, Rodman Naval Station, Galeta Island, and three firing ranges.

In September 1997 the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), the military body responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean, moved its headquarters from Quarry Heights, atop Ancon Hill near downtown Panama City, to a new facility in Miami, Florida. Advanced equipment at the site is used for field communication and surveillance throughout Southcom’s area of operation. Seven hundred military and civilian personnel are employed at the headquarters facility.1

The United States now maintains a semi-permanent military presence in the region at several installations:

Other sites


1 United States Southern Command, Statement of General Charles E. Wilhelm, USMC, Commander in Chief, before the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice, House of Representatives, March 12, 1998: 32.


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Last updated: 01/26/07.