Panama Deception Essay

1152 words - 5 pages

The “Panama Deception,” directed by Barbara Trent of the Empowerment Project and narrated by actress Elizabeth Montgomery, observes a distinct failure to implement 20th-century democracy in Latin America in the late '80s and early '90s. More specifically, the film documents the U.S. invasion of Panama under "Operation Just Cause” during this period, showing how the cause was anything but just. Rather, the film shows how the Operation intended to impose a biased renegotiation of the aforementioned treaties.

Released on July 31, 1992, the two-year film production was meticulously researched, yet laid out simply and forcefully the case against the US government story, and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature as a result. Made all the more timely by the recent war on terrorism (or errorism, as I like to call it), the “Panama Deception” shows how the U.S. killed between 3,000 to 4,000 people over the course of an invasion that the rest of the world was against (a theme duplicated in the War on Iraq and others prior to then Panama invasion).

Years before the United States went after Saddam Hussein, the White House had General Manuel Noriega, who had been on the CIA’s payroll over the 20 years prior to the invasion, in its sights. Noriega was actually taken off the CIA payroll by President Jimmy Carter's CIA Director Mansfield Turner back in 1978, but immediately put back on the CIA payroll by the Reagan Adminstration at double Mansfield’s salary. Placed at the head of the CIA to do the government’s bidding, Noriega was basically manipulated into becoming a tyrannical arms and drug kingpin.

Under the Bush administration, Noreiga’s orders to organize drug trafficking and support the Nicaraguan Sandinista rebels ensured that the canal, a cocaine pipeline that funded so many CIA black ops around the world, remained unfettered. Invaluable to the CIA’s operations, the film shows that no amount of Panamanian bloodshed could deter this need. When Manuel Noriega stopped following government orders, the US considered him too independent and a potential threat. Repeated failures to oust him resulted in the government isolating him as a scapegoat for the US’s true intentions in Panama – a timely convenience. The demonization of Noriega provided the political leverage needed to gain the public’s support for a military take over of his home nation of Panama. Planting stories about Noriega being a sexual degenerate, drug abuser and pusher, and neo-Nazi engendered this political advantage. Using this strategy, the US public was falsely inclined to place their faith in a program for restoring democracy in Panama. Nearly two decades later, not only has this objective never been completed, but also Panama has still not recovered.

Further details about the aftermath of the enormous death and destruction that resulted from the Operation itself reveal why. A Pentagon spokesman featured in the film denied observers claims of soldiers firing upon civilians...

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