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This documentary details the case that the 1989 invasion of Panama by the US was motivated not by the need to protect American soldiers, restore democracy or even capture Noriega. It was to force Panama to submit the will of the United States after Noriega had exhausted his usefulness. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
This shocking and detailed eye-opening film on the events surrounding the Panama invasion by U.S. forces in 1989, amazingly won the Best Documentary Oscar, one of those rare occasions when the Academy takes big chances and awards the most controversial of the competitors. With justice. Barbara Trent's film is hypnotic, brave, providing loads of information in the right measure, without being overbearing and excessive.
What one calls it as Operation Just Cause with the intent of taking down Panama's then leader Manuel Noriega was nothing less than a bunch of gruesome operations that led in 3000 casualties on the Panamenian side, 23 on the American side, - numbers varying from source to source
thousands of people lost their homes during the one month occupation
and only in the end such operation got to the eventual fall of its leader facing many accusations from drug trafficking (major source of drugs entering in the U.S.) to violation of human rights. With all that in mind, "The Panama Deception" doesn't fall into being biased or deeply anti-American as it could be, instead, preferring to examine both sides of the issue presenting the horrible suffering from the Panamenian people and the embarrassing explanations given by a Pentagon aide who doesn't convince at all on why the operation was necessary. Gotta be kidding when it's mentioned that all happened because they had to defend U.S. sovereignty on a foreign soil, or something to that extent that if one American dies (in this case a marine was shot a few days before the invasion) something must be done. Such reaction didn't occur when Flight 007 was taken down by the Soviets in 1983, there was an American senator in the plane. Wonder why. The goal in here was to keep control of the canal, change the deal signed by Jimmy Carter which was more favorable to the Panamenian control.
A brief yet powerful history lesson that goes to show once again history repeating itself: the frailty and dangers of a paranoid nation who creates their foreign demons to later battle them back when they no longer represent their interests (in this case, Noriega), giving false pretexts to command invasions, establish their orders and murder innocent people indiscriminately. Thankfully the truth came out with this documentary which was bold enough to question authorities during its making (it's not rare to see moments where U.S. soldiers kept asking for the camera to be turned off when filming the concentration camps - shelters? - with thousands of people living at the worst possible conditions, surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed guards) and to denounce how close the first world media was treating the matter in their prime time news.
Enraging, brutal, at times shocking and brilliantly made. 10/10
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