US Owes Reparations to Panama Over Bush’s Invasion

Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Washington to pay reparations to Panama over George H.W. Bush’s illegal invasion there in 1989. We speak with international human rights attorney José Luis Morín, who has been working since 1990 to secure reparations for Panama. He is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and chairperson of the Latin American and Latina/o Studies Department. We also speak with Greg Grandin, prize-winning author and professor of Latin American history at New York University.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue to look back at the legacy of former President George H.W. Bush and the 1989 US invasion of Panama, I’d like to go back to the 1992 award-winning documentary The Panama Deception. In this clip, community leader Rafael Olivardia and investigative journalist Robert Knight talk about US military atrocities in Panama. We hear first from Olivardia.

RAFAEL OLIVARDIA: [translated] There were many Panamanian troops at the Balboa concentration camp. They didn’t seem to know what was going on. They were sitting on the grass with their arms and feet tied with plastic bands. I, along with many other people from El Chorrillo, witnessed their execution right in front of us. Eight of the soldiers at the entrance were executed by US troops.

ROBERT KNIGHT: A Spanish news photographer, who in the early moments was able to get a picture of bodies lined up in the morgue, was subsequently shot under very strange circumstances. There was not a conflict, but, according to the reports of colleagues, an American soldier just up, took aim and shot him down.

What happened in Panama is a hidden horror. Many of the bodies were bulldozed into piles and immolated in the slums where they were collected. Other bodies were left in the garbage chutes…

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