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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>
Aesthetically I do not value "The Panama Deception" very highly. Most of the time it looks poorly made; even the image quality of the footage Barbara Trent shot in Panamá looks poor. The reason that it works for me as a Panamanian, and that it may have considerable value for a foreign viewer, is that it is quite honest when it analyses the so-called "Operation Just Cause" to destroy Panamanian armed forces, under the guise of an international raid on Manuel Antonio Noriega, in the name of democracy. Nobody believes this today and it is not hard to do so in retrospective, when one thinks of El Salvador or Nicaragua, just to name a couple of Latin American countries where self-determination was violated by American troops. I could be biased because it deals with one of the lowest points in the Panamá-USA relations, from a point of view that leaves little space for doubting what it denounces: on one hand, it offers motives for the Panamanian invasion, that sound more credible than the rhetoric arguments of American or Panamanian officials, and on the other it shows how irresponsibly the US media treated the fact. Besides, in the final analysis, what Trent seems to be more concerned for, is the empowerment (as the name of her organization) of the American people, through the acknowledgement of what their governments have done in the last two centuries, taking the invasion of Panamá as a case in point. Panamanians all have different opinions about what happened, about the data and inferences the film offers, as many Americans also do; and I believe this is what makes this documentary work. In the case of my fellow countrymen, it is also a starting point to research the effects of a hyper-violent moment of our national history, when suddenly the notion (and our perception) of a "state" vanished, and we lived moments of total social, economic and political chaos with protagonists of all social classes, as the film graphically shows.
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