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Panama: The return of Manuel Antonio Noriega

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega will face his country’s justice for the first time in 21 years. (Getty Images)

Channel: International Affairs

The upcoming arrival of former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to Panama, forces a country with more urgent issues – the rise of drug trafficking, which has led to an urgent agreement with Ecuador to fight the cocaine routes; the rising crime rates, including some recent massacres; and the much-criticized suppression of the indigenous ngöbe bugle population – to take a look in the mirror. Until recently, Noriega, the man who ruled from 1983 until the U.S. invasion of 1989, had become a memory, a dark figure from a past era.

Now the darkness is returning in the flesh.

Noriega used to be the CIA’s most trusted man in Central America until excessive profits received from the same drug dealing and guerrilla operations he was supposed to be fighting against led to his demise. After being captured during President George Bush, Sr.’s tenure, Noriega had spent 21 years in jails between the U.S. and France. However, after France approved his extradition a week ago, Noriega will be repatriated on October 1st, and will face Panama’s justice for the first time.

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Venezuela: Chávez hosts a party for America –but “America” is not invited

CELAC is a new regional community of nations with a strong anti-U.S. rhetoric. But the extent of the ideological support from diverse Latin American countries remains to be seen. (Getty Images)

Channel: Latin American Affairs

The amount of initiatives to make Latin America a cohesive block remains impressive. There’s Aladi, OAS, Unasur, Mercosur, CARICOM, and Andean Pact (Pacto Andino), for starters. Now Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has come up with yet another initiative aimed at summarizing - or perhaps replacing - some of them. Or maybe all of them.

Enter the newly-born CELAC, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe), which has gathered some 33 states in the region under Chávez’s umbrella, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and Canada.

“This is the achievement after 200 years of battle,” Chavez said Thursday, according to the AP. “The Monroe Doctrine was imposed here: America for Americans, the Yankees. They imposed their will during 200 years, but that’s enough.”

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