Backing Away from a Latin Dictator

Panama's Noriega becomes an embarrassment for Washington

Even by the old standards of Latin American despots, Panama's strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega is no slouch. He has been accused of drug running, money laundering, election fraud and helping to steer restricted American technology to the Cubans and Soviets, not to mention repressing his own people. Yet Noriega, the Commander of the Panama Defense Forces and de facto dictator since 1983, has been adept at exploiting his country's strategic position. Although he openly cuddles up to Havana, he has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the CIA, and his country plays host to the headquarters of the 10,000 troops...