[The 90’s raw : Panama – John Dinges – Erika presentation]

Raw tape for The 90's. There are three sections to this tape: U.S. military intervention in Panama, a very in-depth discussion with Panama expert John Dinges on Manuel Noriega (and a possible cover-up in Noriega's case), and a screening of footage of Erika Becker talking about cerebral palsy for preschool children.

0:00Copy video clip URL Report about military action in Panama in Spanish. Press and civilians are present as large concrete pipes are moved off a truck. Shot of U.S. armored personnel carriers moving in reverse as the crowd cheers.

01:15Copy video clip URL Voice over switches to English and starts to describe the U.S. military maneuvers taking place in Panama. The Panamanian chancellor wrote that he believes that if armed maneuvers take place, serenity will be threatened and the U.S. would have an excuse for armed intervention. Finally the Chancellor calls the attention of the international community of the imminent danger that these war actions will lead to: a more general aggression bringing mourning and sorrow. This communique was given in Panama City on the twenty first of November, 1989. Shows many shots of the military.

04:16Copy video clip URL Footage of troops and protesters and report from correspondent Nelson Rotario. Introduction to interview.

05:00Copy video clip URL Interview with Dr. Colemerco. He says that in an area under Panama’s sovereignty, known as the white area, the U.S. army has cocked their guns against unarmed civilians. “The only thing that we want is our sovereignty be respected.” U.S. tanks dropped heavy pipes in the area at 3am to “provoke an incident here but we are not going to fall into it. This is an abuse of the U.S. army.” Panamanian civilians are in the process of removing the pipes and placing them in the parking lot of the malaria office. The area now is placed under exclusive security.

06:45Copy video clip URL Shots of protesters and U.S. soldiers. Shouts of “Yankee go home” are heard.

07:15Copy video clip URL A U.S. major is presented a letter stating that U.S. soldiers are not allowed to go into white areas. He responds that the perimeter was established around the buildings at seventy five meters to protect them against a bomb threat.

07:53Copy video clip URL A lone woman yells at the soldiers, who then place bayonets on their rifles. More protesters and soldiers.

09:07Copy video clip URL Interview with the prime minister of Panama. He asks the people to be “calm and wise” and that demonstrations be peaceful. He states that the Panamanian people have been provoked since May of the previous year. He concludes by saying that this afternoon at the ministries consul, a communique will be presented along with a plan of action to obtain a more coordinated answer to these provocations. Footage of protesters.

11:21Copy video clip URL A conversation between a woman working for the U.S. in Panama and a Panamanian citizen comes next. Soldiers begin to move and enter armored personnel carriers. More footage of the army in full camouflage with tanks.

12:55Copy video clip URL High ranking Panamanian soldier informs the crowd that the pipes are being removed from where they are blocking and that security will be taken over by Panamanian military police. The doctor featured earlier explains the plans in more depth until the tape cuts out at 13:50.

13:57Copy video clip URL Eddie Becker interviews John Dinges, an expert on Panamanian history and government and author of an upcoming book. He talks about his history and experience with Latin American politics, and his research through investigative reporting.

15:09Copy video clip URL Dinges explores the topic of Manuel Noriega’s corruption. During the early 1970s, “rake operations” generated extra money to be given to the Panamanian armed forces. The estimated amount of money made from drugs by Noriega is ten million dollars. This was discovered through specific calculations and witnesses of bribes.

17:56Copy video clip URL Dinges insists that Noriega is a government official who, similarly to many other countries, permits cocaine to move through his country. He was not directly involved in running a network of people selling cocaine in the U.S. He is not on the same level as cocaine kingpins such as Pablo Escobar. The amount of cocaine directly connected to Noriega is roughly two or two and a half tons.

19:13Copy video clip URL Why was Noriega and his government overthrown as opposed to other equally corrupt government officials from other countries? Noriega’s relationships with the U.S. are discussed, and Dinges says, “He is not a monster.”

21:17Copy video clip URL “Why did the United States choose, for the first time in its history, to use an invasion and the sacrifice of five hundred lives, the grand majority of them Panamanians, in order to enforce an indictment against a man for some cocaine trafficking?” Dinges does not know the answer.

22:25Copy video clip URL U.S. government officials were willing to look the other way while Noriega was helping to enforce U.S. government foreign policy in Nicaragua and the government of El Salvador against leftist rebels. Evidence from multiple branches of law enforcement such as the D.E.A. slowly developed, and by the time it reached the president there was no denying it was solid evidence. Congress in 1986 also organized unanimously against Noriega.

25:22Copy video clip URL Reagan signed off on the removal and indictment of Noriega in January 1988. Opposition forces that the U.S. supported were too weak to overthrow him, and sanctions hurt our supporters and businessmen in the area more than Noriega.

27:36Copy video clip URL “During the course of 1989 Noriega became more and more violent, like a rat in a corner, baring his teeth.” Elections in May 1989 made Noriega’s regime “seem like one of the most brutal regimes in the world.” Vice Presidential candidate Billy Ford was seen on T.V. being beaten up while trying to ward off his attackers.

29:10Copy video clip URL Dinges speculates in his book that early in 1989 Noriega could have stepped down and left a government controlled by strong armed forces who would have dealt with the U.S. in a less violent way, as opposed to the destruction caused by an invasion.

30:48Copy video clip URL Becker asks if this is the return of democracy. Dinges says the test will come once the U.S. army occupation forces abandon the country, but they do have a chance since the government was elected with no major opposition.

32:10Copy video clip URL “There is a great likelihood that the U.S. will run this government for years to come,” Dinges says. “The country already has a built in presence of ten to fifteen thousand U.S. troops. The main economic resource of the country is run by the United States”. (In reference to the Panama Canal.) The economy will be entirely dependent on U.S aid for years according to Dinges, in light of the fact that Panama is requesting over a billion dollars in immediate emergency aid.

34:50Copy video clip URL Dinges has not visited Panama since the invasion. He says Americans are typically welcomed by civilians with almost no expression of rejection of the invasion based on accounts from sources he has spoken with there. However, the population has the impression that the US will rebuild.

36:46Copy video clip URL Dinges emphasizes that the American press was greatly restricted in the early days of the invasion, and were entirely dependent on the Pentagon’s version of events. Certain topics were omitted from U.S. press but covered by world press, including the murder of a Spanish journalist by American soldiers. Press fell “hook, line, and sinker” for the propaganda campaign demonizing Noriega as “the epitome of all evil.” Many of the allegations used in the campaign were false, and Dinges discusses the misconstrual of Noriega’s religion, saying “Voodoo is no more an evil religion than Christianity or any other religion.”

41:44Copy video clip URL Dinges cites many glaring inaccuracies in regards to Noriega. Dinges’ sense of accuracy was offended by representation of Noriega as a coward who never was in contact or directed his troops and was finally found cowering behind a priest’s robes.

44:18Copy video clip URL U.S relationship with Noriega began as a spy while he was still in high school. He reported activities of fellow socialist youth group members actions to spooks. While a member of Panamanian Defense Forces and head of G2 (intelligence organization), he provided information to U.S. military intelligence and the CIA.

45:44Copy video clip URL Dinges says Noriega was initially paid on a case by case basis for a few hundred dollars. As head of Panamanian intelligence he had access to at least a hundred thousand dollars intended for joint operations.

47:12Copy video clip URL “When Noriega is deepest into drug trafficking, he is also most essential to U.S. in Central America.” Corporations taking part in Iran-Contra scandal were allowed to set up shop in Panama, Dinges says.

49:30Copy video clip URL Noriega provided explosives experts to carry out a terrorist action in Managua ordered by Oliver North, Dinges explains. Noriega offered assassinations and sabotage to Oliver North to help clean up Noriega’s image within U.S. government. North and Noriega met in London to discuss U.S. approved sabotage operations and specific targets.

52:45Copy video clip URL If a cover-up existed, Dinges says, it involved the same group of people who in late 1986 helped to clean up Noriega’s image.

54:40Copy video clip URL Dinges reads the single Freedom Of Information Act document provided by the CIA, which summarizes drug trafficking. Displays other FOIA documents.

57:19Copy video clip URL Concerning the US officials, Dinges says, “Panama has been a backwater in the U.S. diplomatic corps and a major U.S. military post overseas. The result of that has been that the U.S. military people in Panama have been stronger than the diplomats.” During 1980s, U.S. diplomats and military concern was promoting U.S. interests in Central America. Segment ends.

59:15Copy video clip URL Eddie Becker goes to a preschool and shows the kids his tape of his daughter, Erika, talking about her cerebral palsy. After the kids watch her tape, Becker tries to engage them in conversation about Erika. However, they seem to be much too young to be able to sit still and pay attention to a video, so the conversation is not productive.

01:05:08Copy video clip URL The video ends, and a child thinks that the way Erika walks is funny, prompting lessons after the video is over on why one shouldn’t laugh at people who are different.

01:16:58Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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