Bush, and the US Invasion of Panama” will be presented by Leo Gruber, a
professor from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania who lived in Panama
as a child and later served in the US Army there.
Gruber’s presentation will discuss both the political and
military factors that culminated in a full-scale US military invasion of the
Republic of Panama in 1989. In the lead
up to the invasion, tensions were running high. General Manuel Noriega had been
a strange partner of US intelligence and was later an indicted drug
trafficker. He had become an unbearable
thorn in the side of newly elected George H. W. Bush, who felt it was time to
Bush had been criticized
for mishandling an attempted coup that would have delivered Noriega to the
Americans without need for an invasion. The invasion of Panama was an overwhelming show of force involving some
24,000 troops. If it were to go badly, Bush could lose credibility, but if the
Panamanian Defense Forces could be quickly destroyed and Noriega taken into
custody, he could finally dispel the rumor that he was a wimp at foreign
policy. In the end, the PDF was crushed,
Noriega arrested by the DEA, and democracy installed in Panama. It was a great
military and political success for George H. W. Bush; however, sanctions,
widespread looting, and economic instability in the aftermath destabilized the
country. More importantly, what happened to the people of El Chorillo, which was a poor neighborhood, situated near the PDF
headquarters? It is still not clear how many civilians died in order to remove
one man from power.
Please go with an open mind. Wednesday, November 1, 2017, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 126. Visit the LAS calendar of events and follow us on Twitter.
Gruber is an associate professor at Edinboro
University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches German and military history. As a child, he
lived in the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1971, and later returned to Panama in
the Army to attend the Jungle Operations Training Center at Ft. Sherman. Recently,
he attended the Military History Instructor Course at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
Latin American Studies