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.
On December 15, 1989, Noriega sought and was given by the legislature the title of chief executive officer of the government. The Noriega-led assembly declared that a state of war with the United States existed. The next day Panamanian soldiers killed an unarmed U.S. Marine officer dressed in civilian clothes. Retaliation by the United States was quick and decisive. On December 17, U.S. President George Bush, who was blamed on being a weak President by American Falcons, ordered troops to Panama, with the subsequently announced aims of seizing Noriega to face drug charges in the United States, protecting American lives and property. Of course, nobody cared about Panamanian neither property nor lives.
As Noriega helped CIA with the US war against Nicaragua, training contras in the 80's, he was indicted all the charges that took place before 1984, year when Noriega started serving US interests in Nicaragua, satisfactorily. It is notorious that even 1986 the US Government considered Noriega's work a "vigorous anti-drug trafficking policy" and welcomed the closed association with him.
Suddenly, two years later, Noriega - as many other formers CIA friends: Osamma Ben Laden and Saddam Hussein, among them - became a villain. What happened? In May 1989, Noriega again stole an election, this time from a representative of the business opposition, Guillermo Endara. Noriega used less violence than in 1984. But the Reagan administration had given the signal that it had turned against Noriega. (Noam Chomsky, 1993) Noriega was trying to legitimate the illegal victory by approaching the enormous majority of poor. A few months later, invasion toppled him after a frustrated coup masterminded from Washington.
Bush administration had a big problem, according with the treaties was supposed to handing over canal handling to Panama in 1990. Washington wanted to be sure that a friendly Government would administrate it, and Noriega's no longer was.
Then, the invasion and the condemn of millions to poverty, destruction, insecurity and hunger. However, the main reason of money laundering, the lack of control on banks and financial corporations, remained untouched.
As a homeless woman, widow of a Panamanian soldier killed by US Army in 1989 said one year later: "I do not wish this year of suffering to anybody, neither President Bush nor his sons." However, Bush's son, George W., is now ready to attack another CIA's friend, for the second time.
Cartoon: Noriega and CIA officer. The Panamanian General is the most famous graduate from the School of the Americas, a CIA organization to overthrown popular Governments in Latin America.