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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 97 13:31:43 CDT
From: soluciones@geocities.com
Subject: Why I dislike "Panama Deception"
Organization: Deja News Usenet Posting Service
Article: 19857

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]

Why I dislike ‘Panama Deception’

A review of the film, "Panama Deception"
13 October 1997

In article <614v5n$18gk$1@news.missouri.edu, rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (MAP/Activ-L Autoposter) wrote:

"They keep telling us that in war truth is the first casualty, which is nonsense since it implies that in times of peace truth stays out of the sick bay or the graveyard."
--Alexander Cockburn, at the beginning of the latter part of this column, concerning the Panama invasion and today's Panama [The Nation, Feb. 4, 1991]

The quote comes from an article that came after an interview with the producer of "Panama Deception", the prime example of half-truths and mostly-lies about the Panamanian situation.

Panama Deception is like a crazed, chattie, cabbie driver that seems to kbnow what he's talking about, but actually knows about Panamanian reality as much as a Somali driver can be expected to know (or a Panamanian about Somalia).

What Trent calls the demonizing of Noriega was not necessary, because despite Trent's more benevolent concepts about Noriega, all facts published in the US media about him were common knowledge in Panamanian streets long ago. Trent could have tried filming before 1989 a short cartoon about Noriega as a pinapple face to get first hand experience on whether he's a demon or not, with a tour of his humane penitentiaries. Regarding Trent's "real" reasons for the invasion, a caveat is worthy: - The U.S. military would not want to cede the bases. The Treaty that self-appointed strongman Torrijos ratified says on the small print that the US can intervene anywhere in Panama and can even remain after the year 2000. Present US military stength in Panama is at lever lowels than the 1990 all-time high or the 1979 maximum athorized by the Treaty, with military housing being progressively dismantled while you are reading this.

- The wimp factor. Unlike Trent, I will not suppose I have supreme knowledge on someone else's political history.

- Install an oligarchic regime. That "oligarchic regime" was elected by 70% of the votes in 1989 (despite reppression and censorship by the military). EVen though voters are dissappointed regarding its ability to solve the problems inherited from the military, polls indicate a majority does not want to go back to the Noriega days.

The filmmaker never mentions the fact that the "U.S. installed" Endara government was elected by 70% of the votes issued in 1989 (despite censorhip and reppression by the PDF). Apparently, Panamanians deserve a military dictatorship because liberal filmmakers feel their candidates are puppets.

Whether the invasion purpose was to destroy the PDF and create a "government more amenable to a renegotiation of the Canal Traties before 2000", is not evidenced by the events after the invasion. US troop levels are down to levels lower to those of 1979 (when the Treaty imposed US troop strength as the maximum) and are planned to progressively be reduced to zero, as part of the base closures that have occurred worldwide.

Despite Trent's defense of the PDF as guarantors of Panamanian sovereignty in the Canal, the PDF was well armed by US military aid programs (MAP) and even populist General Torrijos ratified a Treaty that in the DeConcinni Ammendment allows US intervention at any time. As the Gulf War demonstrated, rapid deployment from the U.S. is more useful than bases in politically sticky enclaves.

Despite Trent's contention that trafficking has increased, she forgets that a dictatorship accomplice in trafficking kept part of druig seizures from rival organizations for itself. The current government has stopped that practice, thereby increasing the amount of drug seized. This is interpreted by the DEA (that congratulated Noriega in 1988 for collaborating in the drug war) as an incrfease in drug trafficking. However, drug barons abroad are so powerful that throughout Latin America they keep corrupting officials and increasing their drug exports.

The author's heart reaches out to what he calls "political prisoners" that are arrested and harrased in what he calls 'Bush's democracy'. If he had lived in Panama while we endured the Noriega dictatorship he would have known the real nature of those "poltical prisoners". If beating directing the beheading of an opponent, beating prisoners to death, encouraging those hate crimes through the media, siphoning resources from a now exhausted pension system, and build their way into the lifestyle of the rich and famous with foreign loan monies (among them your U.S. taxpayers' foreign aid) for future generations to pay, are not crimes leading to imprisonment, the the author's political prisoners should be indemnized for their ordeal.

Trent's imagery conveys the cruelty of the results of an escalation between Noriega's dictatorship. Unfortunately, Trent's agenda, narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery, bewitches the uninformed viewer into a reality out of context, full of half-thruths. Perhaps Trent should add that besides all those killed in the crossfire between ing force, many innocents were killed or taken hostages by Dignity Batallion engaged in looting and ramsacking. She could have added an epilogue to L.A. Law's story of civilians hiding in a church, with the version of Chorrillo priest that Dignity Batallions burned many wooden houses in Chorrillo to cut off the US soldiers' advance. Even if Hollywood's filmmakers-turned-Panama- experts did not consider it worthy of notice, the author can verify those details in the Catholic Church bulletin published in Panama in December 30, 1989.

The filmmaker's contention that without a well organiszed security apparatus, Panama is unlikely to be in a position to do this is laughable, with his respect. No army can defend the Canal against an ICBM. Even during the all time high of US presence after the invasion, I personally went on outings to places in the Canal where any Hezbollah fan could drive an expolsive-filled van into. Any army will serve as instrument of reppression against unarmed civilians, as Noriega's army showed the world after the May 7, 1989 elections.

Even if the film questions the legitimacy of a government sworn in a US base (located in Panamanian territory in front of two Panamanian witnesses as required by the Constitution), it nevers mentions that its candidates were elected by the 70% of the votes in 1989.

Trent purports to dissociate herself from Bush's supposed concern for "every human life is precious". But if Trent had made a film on Panama as powerful as 'Deception' when hundreds where disappeared by the military from 1968, perhaps we would be talking today about the Panama miracle, not the Panama invasion. Instead it took an outrageous toll in human life for Trent to discover tamales, bollos, and Panamanians. Enjoy your Oscar!