Hard pass on the Noriega remix? US narcotrafficking charges against Maduro straight out of Panama playbook
The US indictment of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his subordinates on narcotrafficking charges echoes the rationale used to invade Panama and kidnap its leader – and Americans aren’t exactly thrilled with the reprise.
The Justice Department’s indictment of Maduro and four other senior Venezuelan officials on narcotrafficking charges – and the State Department’s offer of up to $15 million as a reward for evidence supporting those charges – reminded so many social media users of the 30-year-old plot to remove then-Panamanian president Manuel Noriega from office that the former CIA asset’s name was trending on Twitter on Thursday.
Maduro’s indictment marks the second time that the U.S. government has brought criminal charges against a foreign head of state. The last time was in 1989, when federal prosecutors indicted Panamanian Manuel Noriega on drug-trafficking charges and U.S. military forces seized him. https://t.co/LfMfQAh9Gx
— Pablo Arosemena Marriott (@parosemena) March 26, 2020
Classic CIA move to justify future coup/kidnapping of Latin-American head of state who annoys them.AKA “the Noriega”. https://t.co/662hdUICRg
— lnteGritty (@lnteGritty) March 26, 2020
From the charges – conspiring with Colombian guerrillas to “flood the US with cocaine” – to the point man on both initiatives – current special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams (branded a “war criminal” by critics) – the two cases are nearly twins. In addition to drug-running, Noriega also helped the US by supporting the Contras in Nicaragua, history that has suddenly become relevant again after the Trump administration quietly sanctioned Nicaragua’s government earlier this month.
Not to mention that the US at the very least “turned a blind eye” to Noriega’s drug activities.Incidentally, that was Elliot Abrams who most helped cover for Noriega. Abrams, who probably came up with this phony charge against Maduro.https://t.co/EEgBUPtK1Y
— Our Hidden History (@OurHiddenHistry) March 26, 2020
Accusing Nicolas Maduro of drug trafficking is stupid af. These people are just building the the case for war — they’re thinking: 1) WW2 got us out the depression in 1941 2) Americans supported the overthrow of Noriega in 1989 3) the Bolivarian Revolution must be crushed.
— SocialistBoomer (@SocialistBoomer) March 26, 2020
Few who understood the history were thrilled with the idea of pulling a Noriega on Maduro, however. CIA-supported Noriega had actually trafficked cocaine for years before he was charged, and many believed the invasion of Panama had been orchestrated to prevent him from opening his mouth about his relationship with the agency.
Wasn’t Noriega running drugs *FOR* the CIA and when it become publicly detrimental to support him they abandon him? The US tries to pretend they were manipulated by military ruler of poor as balls third world country *which the US created* https://t.co/sy0vEG5iCc
— Socialism isn’t State subsidy for private corp (@MaatMHI) March 26, 2020
Noriega had the goods on CIA drug flights to and from Nicaragua via Panama. Of course, he never got his press conference to tell it…
— Robert A. Stansbury (@BetoMetroDos) March 26, 2020
However, the Justice Department has not produced any evidence that Maduro is guilty – and the massive State Department rewards for evidence suggest that Washington is in dire need of proof in the Venezuelan case – making the “Noriega option” for Venezuela even less morally defensible than the invasion of Panama.
Deja vu? @AGWilliamBarr and Elliott Abrams, the top @StateDept diplomat for Venezuela, in late 80s pushed for ouster and removal of Panama strongman Manuel Noriega to face US drug charges. Maduro often accuses US of plotting an invasion like one that followed Noriega’s indictment
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) March 26, 2020
The same forces in the US accusing Maduro, worked with the drug cartels in the 1980’s bringing in cocaine to American inner cities ( Barry and the Boys–one example), while arming contra’s in central America.These are the same forces wanting to topple Maduro.
— Stephen Oldfield 🌹 🌺🌻 (@PhiSteveO) March 26, 2020
Others were more disgusted with the timing of the indictments. “They can’t stop coup-ing even during an outbreak!” one shocked user tweeted.
But some seemed to think invading Panama to snatch up Noriega had been a splendid little war, and pushed for the same in Venezuela.
Let’s GO GET HIM!😎🇺🇸FLASHBACK OPERATION “JUST CAUSE”! We can put him in the same Atlanta cell as Old Pineapple Face!U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989-1990. Noriega Arrested & Convicted of international racketeering & drug trafficking. #Madurospic.twitter.com/Yy72uZq6w6
— Sgt Daniel L McCaughan (@DanMcCaughan) March 26, 2020
Attorney General William Barr actually affirmed the Noriega comparison as he attempted to dispel the idea that the US had crossed some rubicon by criminally charging a foreign head of state. “We do not recognize Maduro as the president of Venezuela,” he reminded reporters after announcing the indictments.
Hinting darkly at Washington’s vision for Venezuela’s future, Barr added: “Obviously we indicted Noriega under similar circumstances, we did not recognize Noriega as the president of Panama.”
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