As this country and the rest of the Christian world gears up for the holiday period, today Panama paused to commemorate the US invasion that took place exactly 20 years ago, on December 20, 1989. This morning, one of the local channels (part-0wned by the current President of Panama) showed the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Panama Deception. The film details the cynicism of successive American governments, which used Noriega to assassinate (very popular) Panama strong man Omar Torrijos and then allowed Noriega to replace him. When the monster they had created went into business for himself (the drugs business, that is), they decided to topple him by means of a full-scale invasion. The ensuing death and destruction was covered up so well that we still don’t know exactly how many civilians were killed in the crossfire. Various estimates put the number at between 2500 and 4000.
The Panamanian people carry deep scars, and not only on account of the last invasion. They are fiercely nationalistic but it was the US that created their country and for 100 years has pulled the strings behind the scenes of its de facto colony. The currency of Panama is the American dollar, but Panamanians have no rights to US citizenship. Not surprisingly, they have mixed feelings about America; it is a real love-hate relationship.
Today my thoughts are with the families of the innocent victims who died during the invasion.