The Yanquis Stayed Home

Yanquis Stayed Home Did the U.S. fumble its best chance against Noriega -- or avoid an ill-planned blunder?

About the timetable, at least, there were few arguments: at 8 a.m. last Tuesday, a line of jeeps and canvas-covered military trucks roared up Avenue A in Panama City and disgorged armed troops at the headquarters of the Panama Defense Forces. The soldiers joined 200 others stationed there, and gunfire soon erupted inside and outside the building. Within 90 minutes, the rebels had seized the Comandancia, as it is known locally, and trapped Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega in a small part of the compound. At 11:30, the insurgents issued a statement on national radio proclaiming their coup a success.

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