Speaker Presents Talk on Noriega, Bush, and US Invasion of Panama

Posted on 10/20/2017 6:36:54 PM

Dr. Leo Gruber

“Noriega, 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.

  • Wednesday, November 1, 2017
  • 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 126

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 depose Noriega. 

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.

Twitter Logo@IUPLAS

Latin American Studies