Panama The Big Squeeze

Demonstrations falter, but the U.S. cuts Noriega's cash flow

The scene was a bizarre blend of whimsy, fashion and rage. As antigovernment protesters gathered on the Via Espana in downtown Panama City last week, some of the women sported designer sunglasses and diamond-stud earrings to go with their smart dresses and slacks. Clapping in rhythm, the middle-class crowd jeered, "Down with Noriega! Get out, and let us eat!" When passing motorists blared their horns in approval, riot police poured from trucks bearing the painted image of Doberman attack dogs. Then from the side of the road rolled a truck hauling two water cannons inexplicably emblazoned with powder-blue Smurfs.

The demonstrators...

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