Saturday, December 22, 2007

El Chorrillo remembers "Operation Just Cause:"

"I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.

The record of racketeering is long.

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested... . Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents."

-- General Smedley Butler

News Item:

"The anniversary of the 1989 U.S. invasion was declared a day of 'national mourning' by Panama's legislature on Thursday, and it established a commission to determine how many people were killed when U.S. troops stormed the capital. The measure was unanimously approved as Panama commemorated the 18th anniversary of the day thousands of troops landed to arrest dictator Manuel Noriega on drug charges." [CNN]

I don't remember much about the invasion of Panama, I didn't pay too much attention to politics when I was 22, but I do remember a lot of talk about the real reasons behind "Operation Just Cause." W.'s daddy, the story goes, was apparently afraid Manuel Noriega was going to spill the beans on his dirty dealing with drug dealers in the Americas.

We all know George H. W. Bush was in the CIA and that the CIA had a little airline back in the day called Air America which made a little money on the side in Vietnam by bringing heroin back to the US in body bags. So, this theory kind of sounds plausible. Especially, if you happened to have grown up in Miami in the 80's.

I mean, why else would W. and the Jebster have been unloading cocaine from Barry Seal's plane?

In any case, the US intervening in the Americas with force is not exactly anything new. TR pretty much set the tone with his "Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine saying: "Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. Chronic wrongdoing, however, . . . may force the United States to exercise an international police power."

And that's what we did. It was a police action. (Another one of those.)

What I want to know is, why at this late date don't we know how many Panamanians were actually killed in this so-called "surgical strike" to arrest one drug dealer?

Not that anyone cares to know: "'We prefer to look to the future,'" said U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall. "We are very satisfied to have a friend and partner like Panama, a nation that has managed to develop a mature democracy."

I bet.

Amongst the findings of a 1991 investigation into the human cost of "Operation Just Cause" conducted by Physicians for Humans Rights are:

"1. At least 300 Panamanian civilians died due to the invasion, a toll approximately 100 higher than that reported by Panamanian authorities and U.S. military commanders.

2.The United States officially reported a total of 314 Panamanian military deaths, although only 50 Panamanian military bodies were found. Responding to PHR's findings, U.S. Southern Command officials acknowledged that the figure of 314 was derived from crude battlefield methods of counting casualties and that the figure of 50 represents a more accurate assessment of Panamanian military dead.

3.The verifiable figures of 50 military deaths and at least 300 civilian deaths dramatically change the proportion of civilian to military casualties. The Pentagon's figures of 201 civilian and 314 military deaths would yield a ratio of two civilian deaths to three military deaths. PHR's figures, however, reveal a ratio of at least six civilian deaths to every one military death."

Barring the brunt of the invasion was the El Chorrillo district of Panama City where residents still mark the invasion every Dec. 20.

According to CNN:

"Residents of a Panama City suburb set ablaze in the December 1989 U.S. invasion to oust military strongman Gen. Manuel Noriega are set to act out their collective trauma at a macabre anniversary rite on Sunday. Every year since the December 20 invasion, residents of the capital's El Chorrillo district have built a model of one of the razed homes from their community using tires, cardboard boxes and boards, only to torch it once more, the rite's organiser, Hector Avila, told Reuters.

'Before we burn it, we are going to put Chinese explosives (powerful firecrackers) inside, and throw rockets at it as if it were the U.S. attack,' Avila said. 'When it's alight, the adults from the barrio are going to rescue the children. We'll have black bags filled with beef to represent the bodies,' he added."

How gratifying to know the poorest of the poor in Panama will have that to remember us by. How festive!

And it's nice to know they've now got a "mature" democracy run by the son of a former dictator,
Omar Torrijos, who was killed in a "mysterious" plane crash in 1981.

Or was it so mysterious?

John Perkins who describes himself as "a former economic hit man–a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars," says Torrijos was knocked off because he "opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire." [Democracynow!]

No, that couldn't be it.

Noriega was a drug dealer and he was threatening the 35,000 Americans who lived there. Just like those medical students in Granada who were being threatened by those shovel wielding Cubans! Totally justified.


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