They demonized Noriega as a means of being able to bomb and attack his country, and that’s what they did.
Among the various crusades fabricated by United States leaders is the “war on drugs.”
The White House would have us believe that the purpose of the 1989 invasion of Panama was to apprehend President Manuel Noriega, because he had dealt in drugs and was therefore in violation of US. laws. Here the United States operated under the remarkable principle that its domestic laws had jurisdiction over what the heads of foreign nations did in their own countries. Were that rule to work both ways, a U.S. president could be seized and transported to a fundamentalist Islamic country to be punished for failing to observe its laws.
U.S. forces did more than go after Noriega. They bombed and forcibly evacuated working-class neighborhoods in Panama City that were pro-Noriega strongholds.
They arrested thousands of officials, political activists, and journalists, and purged the labor unions and universities of anyone of leftist orientation.
They installed a government headed by rich compradors, such as President Guillermo Endara, who were closely connected to companies, banks, and individuals deeply involved in drug operations and the laundering of drug money.
The amount of narcotics that came through Panama represented but a small fraction of the total flow into the United States.
The real problem with Panama was that it was a populist-nationalist government.
The Panamanian Defense Force was a left-oriented military.
General Omar Torrijos, Noriega’s predecessor who was killed in a mysterious plane explosion that some blame on the CIA, initiated a number of egalitarian social programs.
The Torrijos government also negotiated a Canal treaty that was not to the liking of U.S. rightwingers.
And Panama maintained friendly relations with Cuba and Sandinista Nicaragua.
Noriega had preserved most of Torrijos’s reforms.
After the U.S. invasion, unemployment in Panama soared; the public sector was cut drastically; and pension rights and other work benefits were abolished. Today Panama is once more a client-state nation, in the iron embrace of the U.S. empire.
Parenti, Michael. Against Empire. Reprint, City Lights, 1995.
America, RT. “Parenti on The Panama Deception.” YouTube, uploaded by RT, 20 Dec. 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuXpNW35Kl4