chapter  7
7 Pages


ByGeorge Priestley

The reformist experiment of Omar Torrijos represented a significant exception to the regional rule. Torrijos led a faction that grasped the possibility of an alternative. Torrijos also saw the need to create institutional links with the marginal segment, of Panamanian society--the urban squatters of San Miguelito and the landless in the countryside. Torrijos responded by organizing the Democratic Revolutionary party (PRD). Ideologically the PRD was linked to the Socialist International, but it lacked a coherent ideology and relied on Torrijos to strike a balance between the left and right wing of the party. The true test of the Torrijos reforms is how well the resulting political system fares in the crises--economic, foreign policy, political succession, etc.--that inevitably beset it. Only if Torrijismo is capable of either preventing or surviving new crises of hegemony will it be judged a significant improvement over its predecessors.