Separation of Panama from Colombia
The Separation of Panama from Colombia was formalized on 3 November 1903 with the establishment of the Republic of Panama from the Republic of Colombia's Department of Panama.
On November 13, 1903 the United States formally recognized the Republic of Panama (After recognizing it unofficially on November 6 and 7). France did the same on November 14, 1903 followed by other 15 countries. On November 18, 1903 the United States Secretary of State John Hay and Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla signed the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty. No Panamanians signed the treaty although Bunau-Varilla was present as the diplomatic representative of Panama (a role he had purchased through financial assistance to the rebels), despite the fact he had not lived in Panama for seventeen years before the incident, and he never returned. The treaty was later approved by the Panamanian government and the Senate of the United States.
The separatist network was formed by José Agustín Arango, Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, General Nicanor de Obarrio, Ricardo Arias, Federico Boyd, Carlos Constantino Arosemena, Tomás Arias, Manuel Espinosa Batista and others. Manuel Amador Guerrero was in charge of traveling to the United States to get support for the separatist plan; he also gained the support of important Panamanian liberal leaders and the support of another military commander, Esteban Huertas.
With a strong support the separatist movement set November 1903 as the time for the separation. However, rumors in Colombia spread but the information managed by the government of Colombia indicated that Nicaragua was planning to invade a region of northern Panama known as the Calovébora. The Government deployed troops from the Tiradores Battalion from Barranquilla, and instructed the commander to take over the functions of the Governor of Panama José Domingo de Obaldía and General Esteban Huertas, who were not trusted by the government.
The Tiradores Battalion was led by Generals Juan Tovar and Ramón Amaya and arrived to the Panamanian city of Colón in the morning of November 3, 1903. The battalion suffered delays in its way to Panama City caused by the complicity of the Panama Railway authorities who sympathized with the separatist movement. Upon the arrival to Panama City troops were put under the command of Col. Eliseo Torres. General Esteban Huertas commander of the Colombia Battalion in Panama ordered the arrest of Tovar and his other officials.
An American vessel, the USS Nashville, commanded by John Hubbard, who had also helped to delay the disembarkation of the Colombian troops in Colón, continued to interfere with their mission by alleging that the "neutrality" of the railway had to be respected.
With the suppression of the troops the Revolutionary Junta proceeded to declare the separation of the Isthmus and later the independence with the declaration of the Republic of Panama. A naval squadron in the Bay of Panama was captured without resistance. Demetrio H. Brid the president of the Municipal Council of Panama became the de facto President of Panama appointing on November 4, 1903 a Provisional Government Junta that governed the country until February 1904 when the Constituent National Convention was established and elected Manuel Amador Guerrero as first constitutional president. News of the separation of Panama from Colombia arrived to Bogotá on November 6, 1903 due to a problem with the submarine cables.