Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The Panama Deception

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: College to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $99.95
  • Date: Copyright 1992. Released 1992.
  • Descriptors: United States - Foreign relations - Panama. Panama - History.
  • Production Information: Live action, Archival footage, Stills. Produced by Barbara Trent, David Kasper, Joanne Doroshow, Nico Panigutt. Directed by Barbara Trent. Narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery. Color. Also available in PAL, SECAM. English, Spanish. Dubbed. 90 min.
  • Production Company: Empowerment Project Productions Channel Four Television
  • Available from: The Video Project 5332 College Ave., Ste. 101 Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-9050, (800) 4-PLANET
  • Cataloging: 972.870'53 Panama - History - American invasion, 1989||Panama - History - American invasion, 1989 - Causes
  • Awards: Philadelphia Film Festival Silver award, 1992.
  • Print Entry #: 4:37
  • Reviewer: Chas Hansen

    The Panama Deception is advocacy journalism at its most powerful. The many eyewitness accounts of the 1989 US invasion of Panama and its aftermath presented here make a compelling case for those who believe the US government has misled its citizens. One does not have to agree with the program's thesis, that our invasion of Panama was in order to abrogate the Panama Canal Treaty passed in 1979. This treaty gave the Republic of Panama sovereignty over the famous link between the Atlantic and the Pacific. What is not explained is why control of a somewhat obsolete canal would be thought so important by the Bush administration as to start a war over.

    More telling is the stark alternative this video offers to the almost sanguine "Official American" history of the events in December, 1989. The reassurances of the US spokesperson that only military targets were hit and only armed combatants were killed come undone before Panamanian eyewitness testimony, much of which seems quite trustworthy. Footage of civilian bodies lying in Panama City's streets, and the wide swath of destruction done to city neighborhoods makes shambles of the US denials. The most sobering evidence seems to refute the low death count of around 220 Panamanians dead, given by the United States. The scenes of mass graves being disintered clash with US contentions that these graves do not exist, yet what is to be made of this photographic proof? These are not moments that will make one proud to be an American. Further, it begs the question of what other lies about this bloody incident were told to us by our leaders?

    The Empowerment Project producers have the technical expertise to combine historical background and photographic and film evidence into a smooth advocation of their point. The raw power The Panama Deception generates comes not from any technical crudeness, but from the honesty of emotions, mainly betrayal, captured in the program.

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