"With five successive elected civilian governments, the Central American nation of Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted the regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. Current President Ricardo Martinelli of the center-right Democratic Change (CD) party was elected in May 2009, defeating the ruling center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in a landslide. Martinelli was inaugurated to a five-year term on July 1, 2009. Martinelli's Alliance for Change coalition with the Panameñista Party (PP) also captured a majority of seats in Panama's National Assembly. Panama's service-based economy has been booming in recent years--with a growth rate of 7.6% in 2010 and 10.6% in 2011--largely because of the ongoing Panama Canal expansion project, now slated for completion in early 2015. […] The United States has close relations with Panama, stemming in large part from the extensive linkages developed when the Canal was under U.S. control and Panama hosted major U.S. military installations. The current relationship is characterized by extensive counternarcotics cooperation; support to promote Panama's economic, political, and social development; and a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that entered into force at the end of October 2012. U.S. bilateral assistance amounted to $3 million in FY2011 and an estimated $2.8 million for FY2012 while the FY2013 request is for $3.7 million. This funding does not include health assistance to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria funded under regional programs or assistance allocated to Panama under the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) that assists countries in their efforts to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. A number of U.S. agencies provide additional support to Panama."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30981