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Panama opens a truth commission on US invasion
an article by Radio Salta

US stealth bombers lit up the early morning December 20, 1989 in Panama with a bombing that marked the beginning of Operation Just Cause to overthrow Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, wanted by a Miami court for drug trafficking.

click on photo to enlarge

But 25 years after the penultimate US military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean in the twentieth century-the last was in Haiti in 1994 - darkness prevails over an episode that ended with the collapse of the military regime inherited by Noriega after the coup in 1968 by Omar Torrijos.

In a surprise announcement to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the invasion, the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, announced Saturday that he will create a special commission to investigate "everything related" to the dead and missing during the operation.

The goal, Varela said, is "heal the wounds, and promote national reconciliation."

The commission will be headed by the Vice President and Panamanian Foreign Minister Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, along with the participation of the Catholic Church and civil society.

Among other issues, the victims demand that Washington recognize the invasion, compensate the country and say where are the mass graves have been buried hundreds of Panamanians, besides declaring December 20 as a day of national mourning.

But as the country faces its past, Noriega can not escape from his own past. The henchman of the CIA - before he decided to go free from them - and faithful lieutenant of President Torrijos - until Torrijos died in an unexplained plane crash, Noriega emerged in the eighties as the most eccentric tropical dictator and converted the country into a base for drug trafficking, money laundering and smuggling, and now languishes in a Panamanian prison. At the age of 80, he faces a possible sentence of 60 years for political homicide and money laundering.

After being captured in Panama 13 days after the invasion, Noriega was transferred to the United States, where he was sentenced in 1992 to 40 years in prison for drug trafficking (a shame reduced to 20 years) and in 2010 was deported to France, where was extradited to Panama in 2011.

(Click here for a Spanish version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

Truth Commissions , Do they improve human rights?

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The following is excerpted from an article by Ernesto Semán, professor at the University of Richmond in the U.S.   He looks at the recent torture report to the U.S. Senate in the light of the history of U.S. implication in the torture that took place in previous decades in Latin America.  As he points out, the torture is only the most recent expression of American policies that amount to a form of state terrorism.

. . . instead of accepting the significance of the war on terror in undermining the rule of law, the report has served the Obama administration as another component of an ideological spinning wheel. . ...more.

This report was posted on December 27, 2014.