Eric Farnsworth is vice president of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. From 1990 to 1993, he served in the State Department as desk officer for Panama.
On Dec. 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush sent 27,000 troops to Panama to topple the dictatorship of self-declared “Maximum Leader,” Manuel Noriega. The invasion — code-named “Operation Just Cause” — killed 23 U.S. personnel and several hundred Panamanians in the name of protecting U.S. citizens and interests as well as restoring Panama’s path to democracy.
By the time of the invasion, Noriega, whose security forces had killed a U.S.