How the CIA Created a Cocaine Dictator

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In December 1989, 25,00 US troops invaded the small, Central American republic of Panama. But this was not a war against some communist regime or terrorist group – this was a drugs bust, aimed at arresting Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama, who was wanted on trafficking charges in Miami.

Awkwardly for the US, Noriega had been a major CIA asset for decades – even as they knew he was becoming massively embedded with the cartels flooding the streets of the US with coke.

This is how US intelligence shielded Noriega, even as he trafficked cocaine and laundered cartel millions – and also how the War on Drugs came to replace the Cold War as the central feature of US foreign policy.

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