This is a translation of an Spanish language selection appearing on TGP en español, see it here. On a day like today, but in 1989, the recently deceased war criminal George H. W. Bush ordered his troops to attack Panama City and arrest President Manuel Noriega and take him prisoner to the US.“… the seismograph of the university of Panama Recorded 417 bomb impacts in the first 14 hours of the invasion. Of that total, 66 bombs fell in the first 4 minutes. The South command recognized 314 Panamanian military fallen in combat, compared to 23 Americans. He didn’t recognize civilian dead. But the Panamanian committee on human rights recognized in 1990 to have a list of 556 dead, including 93 missing. Former Attorney General of the United States, Ramsey Clark, assured time after the dead numbered several thousands ” (Source: Olmedo Beluche, https://kaosenlared.net/el-legado-de-george-bush-en-panama/)It was 42 days of unequal combat, between the most powerful army in the world and an infinitely weaker military force and an unarmed people, or armed only with machetes. In Tribute to that heroic defense of the Panamanians I share the note of who at that time was a girl and now tells us their experiences and what happened during the invasion.
This I lived in the invasion of the United States to Panama on December 20, 1989.First I want to clarify that all Panamanians who were born before December 20, 1989 we are survivors of a war.
Bush 41: only slightly less criminal than his son, and even more treacherous.
On December 20, 1989 Panamanian tv channels had no signal, only the channel 8 in English of the gringos was seen, and only the face of the president of the United States George Bush saying “just cause” in Spanish ” causa justa “.
We were a family of 6 Brothers, I was the oldest, the invasion was a Wednesday and my dad had traveled to the province of Veraguas for work reasons, so we were in the house alone in the company of my mom.
The Bridge of the Americas had been taken by the army of the South Command of the United States and it was impossible for my dad to return, no one could get through, and the country was held terribly incommunicado when the United States also cut the phone lines across the country.
My mom put all the mattresses of the beds in the middle of the house and we all had to sleep alert listening to the bombings that passed over the house, well, the headquarters of Tinajita barracks was close, just separated from us by a small hill.
The gringos launched a flare that lit up 10 more times than a normal flare, and stayed up almost 2 hours floating in the air.
Our neighbor joined us and told us that it was thought general Manuel Antonio Noriega was in the Tinajita barracks and that’s why the gringos concentrated their attacks in that area; all the neighbors felt that what was going on in our country was not right, and we got hundreds of machetes that were distributed to all the neighbors to defend ourselves in case of a gringo attack.
“It was 42 days of unequal combat, between the most powerful army in the world and an infinitely weaker military force and an unarmed people, or armed only with machetes…In the annals of shame, only the attack on puny Grenada is of commensurate infamy.”
In the house there was no food because it was far into the fortnight, and we were waiting for my dad and his arrival was uncertain because the bridge of the Americas (as mentioned earlier) was closed, so filled with desperation, my mom went with some neighbors to look for food but all the local stores were closed.
My mom and some neighbors who also had several children decided to take advantage of some looting going on in some stores, and managed to get a few bars of cheese only.
My brothers and I only ate cheese from the 20th of December until the 1th of January 1990 when the a Chinese who had a supermarket in the community decided to voluntarily open the premises to prevent the entrance door from being vandalised.
The Chinese opened the premises at 8:00 in the morning of January 1 in front of a multitude of desperate neighbors who had no food. I don’t know what happened to him, that Chinese man, with the passing of the years, but thanks to his good heart more than 100 families were able to feed themselves, the truth is that eating sardine with rice was a blessing, my brothers took some Ideal (brand) milk.
The National Radio had been bombed by the gringos when their announcer denounced the invasion and said that all Panamanians were obligated to defend the homeland and take up arms against the invading army; we only heard that on the little portable radio when the gringos fired a mortar towad the station, or who knows what kind of explosive artifact, in any case these journalists died with the boots on and we heard it on a small radio that my little brother got somewhere, and from that moment on, the signal was interrupted.
My brothers put a wire on the roof of the house and captured the signal of Radio Caracol from Colombia, talking about the invasion of Panama. It said we were being bombed and that the gringos were trying to capture general Noriega.
At night we heard the sound of the machine guns in Tinajita, coming from Panamanian soldiers trying to repel the attack of Apache helicopters and United States planes shooting against the barracks.
Neighbors had a meeting at night on December 20th and we were all willing to take up arms against the invaders, but we only had machetes, so we can literally say that this group of Panamanians Crisol de Panamá neighborhood literally took machetes against the most powerful army in the world.
Today I am a mother with children, and I remember that moment with a lot of pain, I know there are still thousands of mothers who lost their children, brothers, uncles, parents in this invasion, so I give them my solidarity and support.
I think that from 20 December 1989 until today we have had to endure corrupt governments, which have been sold to the interests of the United States and the World Bank that privatized our main social service institutions such as telephone, electricity, container port facilities, airlines, sugar, cement, and many more; besides that poverty and unemployment have increased dramatically.
We are survivors of a war.
This was lived by a comrade of the communities.
* we are :* * Victorian Coordinator Lorenzo “CVL”.* * Panama.*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Atilio Boron is a distinguished Argentinian academic, social activist and public intellectual.