The Making of The Panama Deception
In December 1989, just a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S. invaded Panama. It was called Operation Just Cause. The Bush Administration cited “the inherent right of self- defense” in Article 51 of the UN Charter to justify its action. The U.S. intervention in Panama, just one of many in Latin America, did represent a historical departure. This time there was no Soviet threat to point to. Instead, former U.S. ally and CIA asset Manuel Noriega was transformed into a fierce demon, a druglord who was menacing U.S. national interests. The media played their traditional role. Peter Jennings called Noriega an “odious creature.” Dan Rather placed him “at the top of the list of the world’s drug thieves and scums.” It was all neatly wrapped up. The posse rode into town and the bad guy got caught. What actually happened differs from the official story.The long relationship between the U.S. and Noriega and the invasion and its aftermath were the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Panama Deception.
Barbara Trent is an independent filmmaker. She is founder and artistic director of the Empowerment Project, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She produced and directed Coverup, a film about the Iran/Contra scandal. She’s best known for The Panama Deception, winner of the 1993 Academy Award.