Manuel Noriega Meets George Bush (1983)


This photograph shows then Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush meeting with Panama’s strongman Manuel Noriega in 1983. The Reagan White House was embarking on a policy of aggressive anti-communism and this meant attacking Latin American governments that were either leftist or  aligned with the Soviet Union. When Castro came to power in Cuba the US vowed that communism would not spread anywhere else in the Americas. The political reality was that the US was not so much concerned with communism, but maintaining its hegemony of Latin America which had been in place since the Monroe Doctrine. Ronald Reagan’s alliance with Manuel Noriega was done to escalate the war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. As Vice President Bush established a working relationship with Noriega, which included the trafficking of drugs and arms. When George Bush became president in 1989 he sent US forces to overthrow the Noriega government. Bush used  drug trafficking and authoritarianism as a justification for aggressive war. The CIA was involved in the trafficking of drugs and support for right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America had been US policy. This event in Latin American history demonstrates the contradictory nature of US political ideals and foreign policy objectives.


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