Arnulfo Arias

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Arnulfo Arias Madrid (1901–1988) was a nationalist supremacist xenophobe Panamanian politician, medical doctor, and writer who served as the President of Panama from 1940 to 1941, 1949 to 1951, and finally for 11 days in October 1968. Though he was born to a mixed couple (Spaniard father and native-Panamanian mother), he presented himself as "White."


Arias was regarded as 'pro-Nazi'.[1][2] His expressions[3] as well as his doctrine,[4] earned him the nickname "Führer Criollo"[3][5] in the region.[4]

His allegiance and even admiration was for Nazi Germany.[6] He expressed sympathy for Hitler and for Nazi victories, and the most explicit indictment of Arias as a Nazi came out of his own mouth. His own brother and nephew indicted him for being a Nazi sympathizer. Arias met Hitler in 1937, struck up a friendship with him,[7] and per a report, he became "Nazi in body and soul." He also met Göring, Goebbels, Himmler and other Nazi officials. Arias had been Panama's ambassador to Nazi Germany, and his cabinet was generally pro-German.[8]

His 1941 constitution[edit]

After having served as Panama’s ambassador to Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, Arnulfo came back to succeed his brother Harmodio as president and to sponsor the constitution of 1941, which stripped all Panamanians of the races he hated — it didn’t matter if they, their parents and their grandparents were all born here — of their citizenship.
—Eric Jackson, 2017[9][7]

Its "Nazi style" 1941 constitution[10] prohibited the immigration of blacks and Chinese to Panama and widely violated civil rights.[11] Arias aspired to remove anyone in the country who was not of Hispanic ancestry, including North Americans, but also West Indians, Chinese, Hindus and Jews. Arias called for the forced repatriation[12] or sterilization of Panama's black and Asian populations.[12][13]

His brother asked the Americans to get rid of him.[14]

In 1951, after Arnulfo tried to reinstate his Nazi-style 1941 constitution by decree, a popular uprising again deposed him.[10]

KKK inspired / Acción Comunal[edit]

Arias was a member of the racist Accion Comunal, a Panamanian political movement in the 1920s. Accion Comunal members would prance around in KKK robes and call for the removal of all Panamanians of African, Asian, or middle eastern ancestry.[7][15][16] The group adopted fascist and racial imagery; their magazine's 1923 logo featured a swastika. [17]


Indeed, he was ultimately undone by his allegiance to Nazi Germany and his own heavy-handed government.[6]


  1. COUP IS BLOODLESS; Panama Drops Chief Who Leaves Country Without Sanction HE BANNED ARMING SHIPS Arias Regarded as Pro-Nazi -- Successor, de la Guardia, Known as a Democrat Panama in Bloodless Coup Ousts President; Pro-U. S. Regime Set Up as He Goes to Cuba, The New York Times, Oct 19, 1941
  2. THE AMERICAS: Cooperation Confirmed, Time, Monday, Jan. 18, 1943
  3. 3.0 3.1 Humphreys, S. (2010). The Rough Guide to Panama. United Kingdom: Rough Guides, The Rise of Nationalism.

    Arnulfo Arias Madrid, a fascist and Nazi-sympathizer – earning him the nickname "Führer Criollo"..

  4. 4.0 4.1 Engendering Transnational Transgressions: From the Intimate to the Global. (2020). United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis, p. 215.

    Arnulfo Arias, who was becoming known in the region as "Führer Criollo" for the racism of his Panameñismo doctrine.

  5. Davidson, E. F. (2012). Among Spectators and Agents of History: Navigating through the Memory Sites of the Panama Canal. The Global South, 6(2), 130–153. [1].
  6. 6.0 6.1 Miller, P. A. (2016). Sustainable Ecotourism in Central America: Comparative Advantage in a Globalized World. Lexington Books, p. 82
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A monument that would have us forget, The Panama News, July 27, 2016.
  8. Plowman, D. "Isthmian Collectors Club Journal 2008," p. 14
  9. Eric Jackson, Jackson, It’s not OK. The Panama News, February 17, 2017
  10. 10.0 10.1 Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the ... Congress. United States. (1964). Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 754
  11. Cimarrón. (1988). United States: CUNY Association of Caribbean Studies, p. 11 Emerging Perspectives on the Black Diaspora. (1990). United Kingdom: University Press of America, p. 220.
  12. 12.0 12.1 The New York Times Magazine. (1988). United States: New York Times, p. 28.
  13. Ahuja, N. (2016). Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species. United Kingdom: Duke University Press, ch. 2, note 13.
  14. Richard F. Nyrop, R. F. (1981). Panama: A Country Study. Headquarters, Department of the Army, p. 32.
  15. Weeks, J., Zimbalist, A. (2022). Panama at the Crossroads: Economic Development and Political Change in the Twentieth Century. United States: University of California Press, p. 13.
  16. El Compa, La xenofobia no es nueva en Panamá, Oct 22, 2019.
  17. McPherson, A. (2009). Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.–Latin American Relations. United Kingdom: Harvard University Press, p. 75.