Justo Arosemena

Justo Arosemena Justo Arosemena
1817-1896

He was born in Panama City, Panama, on August 9, 1817. The son of Mariano Arosemena and Dolores Quezada, Justo Arosemena was a sociologist and a jurist. He is considered one of the most brilliant men of his time. He is referred to as "a founding father and the most illustrious Panamanian." At age 16 he graduated from high school at the San Bartolome School in Colombia.

In 1837, he obtained his law degree from the University of Magdalena. During his career he held several political posts: president of the Federal State of Panama, president of the Rio Negro National Convention, foreign relations secretary (1848-1849), chairman of Congress (1852), representative in Washington, Panamanian ambassador to Chile, Panama Legislative Assembly deputy, senator in the Colombian Congress, Colombian minister to Great Britain, ambassador to England and France (1872), and consulting lawyer for the Panama Canal Railroad Company.

He wrote several essays that were the result of his work as jurist and sociologist: Essay on Criminal Legislation, Basic Principles of Legislation, Introduction to Political Science, Constitutional Studies, Applied Sociology, and The Federal State of Panama.

The Federal State of Panama is his most significant essay. In it, Arosemena describes Panama's history and nationality and explains the importance of Panama's independence. This essay paved the way for the creation of Panama's first Constituent Assembly in 1855.

Arosemena was aware of the implications of American presence in the Isthmus. However, his essay Study of the communication between the oceans made clear that the construction of the Panama Canal would bring economic progress to Panama. In 1868, he participated as a member of the Colombian commission negotiating a project to build an interoceanic canal with the United States.

In 1886, Panama's Constitution was promulgated and Dr Arosemena abandoned his political career to become a full-time lawyer. His work as an attorney was recognized when his name was given to Panama's Legislative Palace. He passed away in Colon, Panama, on February 23, 1896.