See biography by T. E. Cotner (1949, repr. 1969).
(born Feb. 13, 1929, Santiago de Veragua, Pan.—died Aug. 1, 1981, near Penonomé) Virtual dictator of Panama (1968–78). He entered the national guard in 1952 after military studies in Venezuela and the U.S., rose to the rank of general, and came to power in 1968 in a coup d'état. A nationalist and populist, he was one of the few Latin American heads of state to visit Fidel Castro in Cuba, though he suppressed leftist labour agitators and students at home. In 1977 he achieved his supreme goal when U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter signed two treaties agreeing to transfer the Panama Canal and Canal Zone to Panamanian sovereignty in 1999. He died in a plane crash while on a military inspection tour.
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