Date: Mon, 13 Oct 97 13:31:43 CDT
Subject: Why I dislike "Panama Deception"
Organization: Deja News Usenet Posting Service
[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 <firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com (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
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
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
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