Monday 23 December 2002

Panama invasion: the story of a people's tragedy

The secret plot behind the US attack 13 years ago.

"Traitors", might cried the chief of the Panamanian Armed Forces, Manuel Antonio Noriega, when the US Army invaded his country on December 20th 1989. But why he might cried that? Noriega used to stay in the CIA payroll since 1972, when his links with drug trafficking where very well known by Nixon's administration. However, another Republican President, George Bush, decided to take him to the US courts, with a balance of 2.000 Panamanians dead.

Panama obtained its independence from Colombia on November 3rd 1903, with the help of the United States of America. Before that date Panamanians did not take very seriously their will for independence. However, Colombian opposition to the US construction of a Canal on the thin piece of land where today Panama is, surprisingly revived their "National Spirit". When Panama declared independence, Washington was the first country in recognizing it and the new Panamanian authorities thanked this attitude by handing over the territory where the Canal was finally constructed, only fifteen days after. By that time, Panama did not even had a Constitution to state how this new country was supposed to be named.

Since then, Panama's internal affairs started being handled from its Capital, Washington and controlled by its tiny European elite, less than 10% of the population. As Noam Chomsky states on his book "What Uncle Sam Really Wants", that changed in 1968, when Omar Torrijos, a populist general, led a coup that allowed the black and mestizo [mixed-race] poor to obtain at least a share of the power under his military dictatorship. In 1981, Torrijos was killed in a plane crash. By 1983, the effective ruler was Manuel Noriega, a criminal who had been a cohort of Torrijos and US intelligence.

Full story...