- Title: Panama marks 30th anniversary of U.S. invasion
- Date: 20th December 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS, CORTIZO AT CEREMONY (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEMBER OF THE VICTIMS COMMITTEE OF THE U.S. INVASION, TRINIDAD AYALA, SAYING: "How is a person supposed to feel who one day lost all their happiness and hope, and who has had to go 30 years asking for justice, making complaints?" PANAMANIAN WITNESS TO THE U.S. INVASION, MARCELINO RUIZ, HOLDING PANAMANIAN FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PANAMANIAN WITNESS TO THE U.S. INVASION, MARCELINO RUIZ, SAYING: "There has been a lack of respect for our nationality, and in the month of December this government allows military exercises by the U.S. army. This shouldn't be. The Salas-Becker treaty should be annulled, which gives permission for the U.S. military to pass through Panama." VARIOUS, PEOPLE AT GRAVESITES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT, LAURENTINO CORTIZO, SAYING: "On Wednesday, the cabinet council approved the declaration of December 20 as a day of national mourning. To all the families of people that died 30 years ago, I express my apologies and my respect." PANAMANIAN FLAG AT HALF MAST (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF THE DECEMBER 20 COMMISSION WHICH INVESTIGATES THE VICTIMS OF THE U.S. INVASION, JUAN PLANELLS, SAYING: "The invasion was made more traumatic than our republican war, an unnecessary, unequal war. The permitted sacking, the informal checkpoints, the interventions in hospitals, the arbitrary detentions, the attacks on journalists that led to the Spanish photographer Juan Antonio Rodriguez who was killed clutching his camera."
- Embargoed: 3rd January 2020 21:42
- Keywords: General Manuel Noriega Panama Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo U.S.A. commemoration invasion memorial protests
- Location: PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
- City: PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
- Country: Panama
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA005BAS7LFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Marking 30 years since the United States invaded the country in 1989 and ousted dictator General Manuel Noriega, government officials and relatives of victims who died during the invasion took part in a memorial service on Friday (December 20) at a cemetery in Panama City.
A military honor guard presented a wreath in memory of the victims as Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo looked on. "To all the families of people that died 30 years ago, I express my apologies and my respect," said Cortizo.
Although Washington calculates about 300 Panamanians died during the U.S. invasion, human rights groups have said the number could be as high as 3,000.
Backed by a coalition of civilian parties, Guillermo Endara was the clear winner of Panama's presidential election in May 1989. But General Manuel Noriega refused to recognize the result and, instead, unleashed a wave of repression against his opponents. Later the same year, President George H.W. Bush sent in the U.S. marines.
On December 20, 27,000 U.S. troops seized control of Panama City in "Operation Just Cause," razing the army's headquarters and launching a house-to-house search for Noriega.
He surrendered in January 1990 after holing up in the Vatican Embassy, unable to withstand an assault of loud rock music that Americans blasted at the mission night and day.
He was brought to Miami, where he served 20 years in prison for drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering and later served prison sentences in France and Panama before dying in 2017 at the age of 83.
(Production: Manuel Carrillo, Abraham Teran)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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