Opposition groups called on Panamanians to return to the streets Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion to call for the removal of U.S. troops from their country.
Twenty-one years of military rule came to an end Dec. 20, 1989, when 25,000 U.S. troops swarmed into Panama to oust dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. Although there was broad support for the invasion a year ago, some Panamanians appear to be souring on the U.S. action.The Committee for the Rescue of Sovereignty, a coalition of opposition groups, is sponsoring the march, which is designed to honor Panamanians killed in the invasion, to protest U.S. intervention and to call for the removal of the 10,000 U.S. troops based in Panama.
"Panama is an occupied country where true power resides in the Yankee embassy," said a statement released by the committee. "On Dec. 20, we will demonstrate to the world . . . that Panama is alive and that the national flag vibrates in the heart of Panamanians."
The invasion caused more than $1 billion in damage and left thousands homeless and more than 500 Panamanians dead. Twenty-three U.S. troops died in fighting.
While the overthrow of Noriega was celebrated, many Panamanians are now disenchanted with President Guillermo Endara, who was sworn in on a U.S. base as the invasion began.
Endara is widely viewed as a weak leader.