You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.


Panama: Made in the USA

John Weeks
Phil Gunson
Copyright Date: 1991
Published by: Latin American Bureau
Pages: 152
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Looking at Panama since the invasion, the authors explore the challenge facing the US-installed Endara government as rebuilds a country shattered by invasion and US sanctions.

    eISBN: 978-1-909013-34-6
    Subjects: Sociology
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Map — Panama (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Map — Canal Zone (pp. v-v)
  5. Panama in Brief (pp. vi-vii)
  6. Acronyms (pp. viii-ix)
  7. Principal Political Parties and Groupings (pp. x-xii)
  8. Chronology (pp. xiii-xviii)
  9. Charter of the Organization of American States Statement of Understanding appended to the Panama Canal Treaty (pp. xix-xx)
  10. Introduction: Of Rights and Wrongs (pp. 1-2)

    The US invasion of Panama on 20 December 1989 was a crime both in international law and against civilised values. It was also a spectacularly successful crime, bringing prestige to the perpetrator and apparently received with enthusiasm by the victim.

    That the United States committed such a crime should come as little surprise: it has been a persistent offender. The 1989 invasion was its twentieth military intervention on the isthmus of Panama, leaving aside innumerable similar offences elsewhere in the region.

    Strong nations commonly make great efforts to convince domestic and foreign public opinion of the virtue and purity of...

  11. Chapter 1 Operation ‘Just Cause’ (pp. 3-17)

    The twentieth US military intervention in Panama began slightly ahead of schedule, at half-past-midnight on 20 December 1989. Thirty minutes before ‘H-hour’ the 6th Mechanised Battalion of the US Army’s 5th Division, supported by four Sheridan light tanks, began its advance on the Panama Defence Forces (Fuerzas de Defensa de Panama— FDP) headquarters, theComandancia. Word of the invasion had leaked out, and the head of the Panama-based US Southern Command (Southcom), General Max Thurman, was anxious to move fast.

    Task Force Bayonet, of which the tanks and armoured personnel carriers were part, was charged with decapitating the FDP. Two...

  12. Chapter 2 Canals and Colonies (pp. 18-44)

    Despite the speeches and statements of US leaders, Manuel Noriega alone did not cause the crisis of 1987-89. Nor will his overthrow resolve Panama’s underlying instability. The roots of the tragedy of December 1989 lie in the historical relationship between Panama and the US, and in the social and economic relations within the isthmus. Panama’s uniquely distorted society was already established before its formal independence from Colombia in 1903.

    From the beginning of the Spanish empire in the New World, Panama’s importance lay in its geography. Until the 1730s, Panama had one of only three ports through which Spain authorised...

  13. Chapter 3 Our Man in Panama (pp. 45-70)

    The military’s dominance of Panamanian politics was inextricably linked with the careers of two individuals: Omar Torrijos Herrera and Manuel Antonio Noriega Morena.

    For a man whose name became a household word, Noriega’s early life was inauspicious, and he tried hard to keep its details secret while he was in power. Born in 1934, the offspring of a brief liaison between a lower-middle-class accountant and his domestic servant, he was brought up by his godmother in the slums of Panama City. Although he was physically small and suffered in his teenage years from the acne that left him permanently scarred,...

  14. Chapter 4 Failing to Get the General (pp. 71-88)

    Between June 1987 and December 1989 Washington tried every available means of ridding itself of its troublesome former ally. Economic sanctions, covert action, direct and indirect negotiations with Noriega, multilateral pressure through the Organization of American States — and finally, unilateral military intervention. The US even seriously considered kidnapping the general in order to bring him to trial in Florida. Often actions intended to weaken Noriega ended up by harming Washington’s allies in Panama, and the State Department had to bring political pressure to bear to make them fall into line with actions nominally intended for their benefit.

    It is part...

  15. Chapter 5 Picking up the Pieces (pp. 89-109)

    Once the dust of the invasion had settled, the Endara government’s first task was to establish its legitimacy. Although Endara himself had won a convincing victory in the May 1989 election, Panamanians had voted as a protest against the Noriega regime, rather than to endorse Endara or his policies. Further, Endara’s government in 1990 bore little resemblance to that promised in May 1989: the country remained under US occupation, with US civilian and military personnel taking the important decisions. Doubts over the new government’s legitimacy also sprang from the manner of its investiture, sworn in on a US military base...

  16. Conclusion: Made in the USA (pp. 110-112)

    As the first anniversary of the invasion approached, Panama had yet to emerge from the crisis created, in large measure, by the US confrontation with Noriega. Its economy was in poor shape and looked as if it needed at least a decade to recover. Its government was internally divided and rapidly losing public support, while the enormous influence still exerted over domestic policy by the US cast doubt on the international standing of the Endara regime. Common crime was at an all-time high, and the popularity of the police at least as low as under Noriega. The thousands of victims...

  17. Appendix 1. US Violations of International Law (pp. 113-118)
  18. Appendix 2. The Human Rights Records of the Noriega and Endara Governments (pp. 119-126)
  19. Further Reading (pp. 127-128)
  20. Index (pp. 129-131)
  21. Back Matter (pp. 132-132)