The Ouster and Death of Manuel Noriega
by Stephen Lendman
Noreiga was Washington’s man in Panama from December 1983 until yearend 1989, a valued CIA asset until forgetting who’s boss, no longer convenient stooge enough for his imperial master.
On December 20, 1989, President GHW Bush launched naked aggression on Panama to prove his toughness, targeting a defenseless nation no match for America’s military.
For nearly a month until Noriega surrendered on January 20, 1990, thousands of Panamanians were killed or wounded, many thousands more displaced. Residential neighborhoods were attacked and destroyed in parts of the country’s poorest areas, including by incendiary devices used to torch structures.
Tanks crushed victims. Panamanian defense force members, civilians, journalists and others were executed in cold blood on the pretext of wanting Noriega captured.
Washington knew where he was, but permitted a killing rampage in the operation against him amounting to gratuitous slaughter.
In the aftermath, Bush despicably said it was “worth it.” He proved his cajones by mass slaughter and destruction, a US specialty, notably in Korea, Southeast Asia, the rape of Yugoslavia and post-9/11 rampaging.
Writing about the carnage, William Blum said “(t)he invasion and ensuing occupation produced gruesome scenes: People burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere.”
No accountability followed the slaughter. No US puppet Panamanian regime investigated what happened. No demands for reparations were made, no lawsuits filed in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or International Criminal Court (ICC).
Most Americans know nothing about the so-called Christmas invasion, why it was launched or the devastation caused.
Raping Panama, deposing and arresting Noriega, along with GHW Bush’s Gulf War walkover of Iraq let him crow “we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”
Horrendous war crimes didn’t matter. America’s killing machine was back in business – today raging out-of-control.
Once Noriega fell out of favor for not cooperating with Washington’s contra war on Nicaragua, denigrating him followed. Scoundrel media whipped up accusations of human rights abuses, drugs trafficking and other crimes – true enough, but when he was a valued asset, it didn’t matter.
Once no longer the guy Washington wanted in charge, his fate was sealed, vilifying propaganda creating a pretext for removing him.
On the day of Bush’s Panama invasion, US-appointed puppet leader Guillermo Endara was sworn in as the nation’s president along with two vice presidents at Fort Clayton, one of numerous US Panama Canal Zone military bases.
While operations were still ongoing, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling America’s invasion a “flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States.”
A Security Council resolution was vetoed by Washington, Britain, and France – partners in high crimes of war earlier, then and now.
Detained as a prisoner of war, Noriega was flown to America, indicted on multiple counts of drugs trafficking, racketeering and money laundering, imprisoned for 30 years in America, seven more in France, then returned to Panama for continued internment, followed by house arrest in January to prepare for removing a brain tumor.
On May 29, he died in Panama City after suffering a brain hemorrhage during March surgery, leaving him in critical condition.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.