A Socialist Labor Party Statement—


The Socialist Labor Party of America condemns in no uncertain terms the invasion of Panama and overthrow of its government by U.S. forces.

No matter how the invasion is rationalized, nothing can alter the fact that it is a violation of Panama’s sovereignty, that its real principle aim is to keep Panama and its people under the thumb of U.S. capitalism. Both U.S. and Panamanian lives are now being sacrificed, not to defend “freedom,” “democracy” or “American lives,” but to defend the profit interests of U.S. capitalism.

Our condemnation of the U.S. invasion does not mean support for the brutal dictatorial regime of Gen. Manuel Noriega. Noriega is not the issue; U.S. intervention is. The SLP’s stance is in defense of the right of nations to self-determination.

Regardless of how oppressive Noriega’s rule may have been, no social progress, no fundamental improvement in the lives of the Panamanian masses can come about as a result of the U.S. ruling class imposing its will on Panama. The entire history of U.S. intervention in Panama, and in Latin America generally, amply testifies to that.

U.S. intervention has resulted in U.S. capitalism’s penetration and domination of the region’s economies, the plundering of its resources, the exploitation and greater impoverishment of its workers. Despite “democratic” pretenses, it has generally promoted and supported repressive military regimes.

Indeed, had it not been for decades of U.S. intervention in Panama—from the U.S.-instigated creation of the country in 1903, through years of “gunboat diplomacy,” to years of support for Panama’s military establishment—there would not have been a “Noriega regime” in the first place.

Every rationale offered by the Bush administration in defense of the invasion only underscores the hollowness and utter hypocrisy of its position.

We are told that the invasion was intended to “protect American lives.” Yet there was no evidence of any officially countenanced assaults on U.S. citizens; there were only three isolated incidents that prompted the full-scale invasion. Now that invasion itself has cost far more American lives and placed many others in jeopardy.

We are told that the invasion was intended to “defend democracy in Panama.” Yet the invasion itself was ordered by executive decree, in flagrant violation of the Constitution and international law, without the slightest democratic input from the people of the United States! In any event, democracy cannot be advanced by the forceful imposition of a new government by a foreign power.

We are told that the invasion was intended to “bring Noriega to justice” and strike a blow against drug trafficking. Not only is this a cynical effort to use the drug abuse crisis for ulterior motives, not only does it promote the myth that the deeply socially rooted problem of drug abuse can be fought by apprehending suppliers; it is incredibly arrogant and absurd to maintain that suspicion of breaking U.S. laws can justify the overthrow of a foreign head of state, however disliked.

Finally, we are told that the invasion was to protect “U.S. rights under the canal treaties.” Yet the administration conceded that it had no evidence of any threat to the treaties—which were themselves a product of past U.S. domination of Panama.

When assessed in the light of reason and the background of decades of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, the invasion of Panama stands revealed as nothing more than a naked assertion of U.S. domination intended to protect U.S. profit interests in the region. The U.S. government worked hand in glove with the dictator Noriega for several years when he served U.S. ruling-class interests; it is only recently, when he could no longer be controlled by the U.S. government, that he became a “problem.”

Once again, the sons of U.S. workers are being sent to fight and die to make the world safe for U.S. capitalist investment, and for that purpose alone. The Socialist Labor Party appeals to U.S. workers to take a stand against the U.S. invasion and occupation of Panama—and against the capitalist system that repeatedly causes such senseless acts of war.


Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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