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
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
Howard Air Force Base,
Rodman Naval Station,
Galeta Island, and
three firing ranges.
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
States now maintains a semi-permanent military presence in the region at
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.