We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

 How the 1989 War on Manuel Noriega’s Panama Super-Charged US Militarism

Click here to access article by Greg Grandin from The Nation. (updated on June 1st, 10:45 AM Seattle time)

The news of Manuel Noriega's recent death stirred up a lot of bad memories about the sordid actions of ex-CIA chief and then President H. W. Bush and the complicity of America's media corporations. In the 1980s I was very politically aware of, and active to oppose, all the secret wars the US was involved in trying to control governments in Central America. I am referring to El Salvador where the US supported a government and paramilitary that was engaged in terrorizing dissidents, murdered nuns and Archbishop Romero. 

I am also referring to the ongoing attempt to overthrow the very popular Sandinista government in Nicaragua. I remember working hard in organizations that led to the 1984 Boland Amendment that prohibited the government from giving any kind of military aid to US's terrorist army known as the Contras that were based in nearby Honduras. Up until then they had been funded and organized by the CIA to terrorize civilians and the staff working at the popular health clinics and schools in Nicaragua in an effort to overturn the government. (Does this sound familiar?) I personally saw some of the destroyed clinics and talked with several American lay Catholic workers who confirmed the reports of these actions.

Noriega's death brought back so many other memories like the Iran-Contra hearings which revealed a lot, but suppressed a lot more of the CIA's dirty deeds. The CIA carried on its dirty deeds in El Salvadore and Nicaragua with funding from mainly three sources: selling arms to Iran, diverting foreign aid destined to Israel and other countries, and the lucrative drug trade which were imported into the ghettos of the US. This is where Noriega was useful. While on the CIA payroll, he played an important role in support of the US by actions by facilitating drug trafficking. He had close relations with drug czar Pablo Escobar of Columbia. But at a certain point he apparently balked at providing more of such services, and H. W. Bush angered by this insubordination, decided to take him out by invading Panama.

But I won't burden you with the whole story. Grandin does a good job summarizing these events. If you really want to learn more about not only the realities but what corporate media provided as fake news to US readers, I've listed the following links (in chronological order):
  • http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-u-s-invades-panama
  • http://fair.org/extra/how-television-sold-the-panama-invasion/
  • http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/04/world/noriega-s-surrender-overview-noriega-gives-himself-up-us-military-flown-florida.html
  • http://articles.latimes.com/1991-10-04/news/mn-3423_1_medellin-cartel
  • https://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/document.php?id=cqal85-1147212#H2_9
  • http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/11/us/noriega-sentenced-to-40-years-in-jail-on-drug-charges.html
  • http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/11/us/noriega-sentenced-to-40-years-in-jail-on-drug-charges.html
  • http://www.nytimes.com/1992/12/12/opinion/manuel-noriega-prisoner-of-war.html
  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/general-manuel-noriega-feared-panamanian-dictator-cia-asset
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/30/world/americas/manuel-antonio-noriega-dead-panama.html
  • http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/truth-operation-panama-160131085323562.html 
Also on June 1st I added the following article entitled "The Panama Deception" which includes a very interesting 1:31:09 video by the same name.