Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

VISITING EL CHORRILLO

  • My son Julian is in Panama on a Latin America vacation.  The other day he told a cab driver that he wanted to go to the ghetto.  The cab driver refused to take him there and dropped him off at the edge of the neighborhood.  Julian took the photo above that depicts George H. W. Bush's December 20, 1989 middle of the night invasion of the El Chorrillo neighborhood in Panama City.  Bush told the world he was going into Panama to capture Manuel Noriega but this invasion was more about showing American citizens and the world that there would be no "peace dividend" after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Much of El Chorrillo was bombed, shelled with heavy artillery, strafed, and finally burned to the ground by U.S. troops.  
  •  One resident, a young mother, told investigators after the invasion that “helicopters were firing all kinds of weapons because you could hear the bursts, and explosions were of different intensities...The lights in the neighborhood went out and houses began to burn.  It was chaos.  People tried to leave their burning homes but found themselves between two fires...tanks, and armored cars, and U.S. soldiers on foot advancing, firing.  We could hardly believe it.”  Another resident reported that a group of U.S. soldiers came down his street and “entered each house.  We saw the people – the residents – coming out, followed by soldiers, and then we saw the houses, one by one, go up in smoke.  The U.S. soldiers were burning the houses.”  More than 2,500 innocents were killed in the raids.
  •  In order to hide the dead, the U.S. military dug mass graves and bulldozed bodies into them.  Cremating bodies was another method used to destroy the evidence of the massacre.  A report from the Panamanian National Human Rights Commission claimed that in Cocle province “hundreds of bodies were cremated” by U.S. troops using flame-throwers. Some speculated that one reason for the invasion was that Noriega had not followed U.S. orders to assist in the illegal U.S. war on Nicaragua in 1986.  This was punishment for his “betrayal” of his bosses in Washington.
  • Julian reports that as he was walking around El Chorrillo an "older woman and her kids" approached him and asked if he was an American.  He said yes.  She told him to get out of their neighborhood and they followed him to make sure he left. Memories remain and injustice never forgets.

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