The wars of General Omar Torrijos. (Las guerras del general Omar Torrijos) (Film)

General Omar Torrijos’ legacy.

General Omar Torrijos Herrera, a national-progressive dictator, “convicted, sworn and converted”, as he defined himself, led the Panamanian nation for ten years. Since the coup d’état that put him in charge on October 11, 1968, his mandate did not cease to be controversial, as he became one of the most transcendent figures in Latin American history.

Torrijos was a descendent of a Spanish political and liberal general who was shot during the regime of king Ferdinand VII. Perhaps that was what made him a rebel who refused to follow protocols. He had one mission in life: to recover the Panama Canal and put an end to 70 years of U.S. colonialism and, consequently, sign the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

He managed to convince almost all his Central American counterparts to unite and create the Union of Banana Exporting Countries, as this was the only way to successfully claim all the concessions that the multinationals had been managing for seventy years, subjecting the native workers to slavery.

Aware of the smallness of his country in the face of the great American superpower, he decided to make noise and turn the Panama Canal problem into a U.S. problem. He worked from his hammock in his house in Panama City, from where he led a campaign to end colonialism in different territories, in addition to supporting nations in need of democracy and justice, from the independence of Belize or the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, to giving political asylum after Pinochet’s coup d’état and the Shah of Iran at the request of Jimmy Carter.

His enemies wanted him dead. That is why, during the Banana War, they hatched a plan to eliminate him. Although there is no proof of this, everyone around him is convinced that they killed him. The official version claims that he died in a plane crash, when the aircraft he was flying in crashed and disappeared from radar screens due to bad weather conditions, but somehow was not notified until almost 24 hours later.


RELEVANT INFORMATION: Journalist Zoilo G. Martínez de la Vega, a former correspondent of the EFE Agency in Colombia and with more than 40 years of experience in Latin American politics, narrates in first person the rescue of Torrijos, whom he met in October 1968.

Martínez de la Vega became one of his confidants and remained by his side until the general’s disappearance in 1981. In in this novel, he compiles real anecdotes and include letters, emails, and unpublished personal statements to which no one had ever had access before.


What the critics have said about the book:

“Torrijos had a vision of the world that very few people are familiar with.” Gabriel García Márquez

“Many of the heroes and leaders of our independence must have been carved with the same wood with which General Torrijos was carved.” Alfonso López Michelsen, former president of Colombia

“At no time does he succumb to the uncritical fascination that the character generated in his environment by his charisma, his ability to generate adhesions and his affection.” El País

“A historic gift to the Panamanian and Central American population, shedding light on various events that shaped Latin American democracy, the struggles for social justice and the opening of doors towards the return of the Panama Canal to Isthmian hands.” La estrella de Panamá

“Historical book about Panama and Latin America in the 70’s and, of course, about General Torrijos during that decade. Of course, to talk about General Omar Torrijos is to talk about the Panama Canal treaties. Highly recommended.” Goodreads.


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: Film in development.