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Judi Lynn

(161,324 posts)
Fri Oct 28, 2022, 08:55 PM Oct 2022

How UK Backed Panama Invasion

October 27, 2022

Thatcher understood Washington’s 1989 invasion was illegal but supported it anyway, recently declassified documents show, John McEvoy reports.

Jan. 1, 1990: U.S. soldiers in Panama during the invasion. (U.S. National Archives)

By John McEvoy
Declassified UK

Shortly before 7 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1989, Margaret Thatcher received a call from U.S. President George H.W. Bush. Bush informed the U.K. prime minister that Washington had just launched an invasion of Panama, declaring that there had been “no alternative but to intervene.”

After decades on the C.I.A.’s payroll, Panama’s military leader Manuel Antonio Noriega had fallen out of favour with the White House, and the Bush administration decided it was time for him to go. That morning, over 20,000 U.S. troops descended on Panama, accompanied by the indiscriminate bombing of poor civilian areas thought to be Noriega strong-holds.

According to human rights organisations, up to 3,000 Panamanian civilians may have been killed during the invasion, with tens of thousands more displaced. The true figure of civilian casualties remains unknown — the U.S. forces didn’t bother to count the dead, with many thrown into mass graves.

Thatcher was the first foreign leader to be told of the operation. Over the phone, she assured Bush that “it was a very courageous decision which would have our full support.” Britain would “take the line that it was no good people criticising Noriega and then failing to support the Americans”.


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The Panama Deception won an Oscar for Documentaries and was
narated by actress Elizabeth Montgomery.
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