|Abstract||This study focuses on the emergence of military government in Panama, with the goal of contributing to a growing field of revisionist work on authoritarian governments in the Cold War period. Moving beyond narratives centered on the United States and Soviet Unions half-century-long military and economic standoff, this dissertation demonstrates the unexamined intricacies of Latin American domestic and international policy; specifically, the project concerns Panamas military period from 1968 to 1989, with an emphasis on the states dismantling of the US Canal Zone and its fight for administrative control of the Panama Canal by forming international alliances as a member of the United Nations Security Council (UN Security Council), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the Organization for American States (OAS). This study explains how the military, under Generals Omar Torrijos Herrera and Manuel Antonio Noriega, tried to legitimate its position in power. To demonstrate the boundaries of the regimes domination, the project includes a discussion of how local opposition sought to undermine the government. Unlike previous studies on Panamas military period, this work explores the topic through a cultural rather than economic lens. This cultural history uses primary political and artistic sources (e.g., speeches, legislation, ministry records, interviews, documents, plays, paintings, poetry, and music) that the Guard employed to foster political unity. Moreover, it interprets state and local memories and conceptions of nationalism with attention to the intersections of race, gender, and class. The evidence will show how an authoritarian regime in Latin America sustained power through cultural mechanisms while subverting the influence of the United States during the Cold War. The analysis brought forth in this dissertation illuminates how culture can become a tool and weapon for authoritarian governments--but also for the people they attempt to govern.