December 20, 1989 – U.S. invades Panama

December 20, 1989  – U.S. invades Panama

The United States invades Panama in an attempt to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega. The American government originally favored Noriega because of his anti-communist beliefs, but U.S. policy changed in 1989 as communism collapsed in Europe and it was no longer as important to give unqualified support to anti-communist regimes. In the attack, the U.S. invaders promptly crushed Noriega’s Panamanian Defense Forces, and the dictator himself sought asylum in the Papal Nuncio in Panama City. He surrendered in January and was taken to the United States, where he was indicted on drug trafficking charges and accused of suppressing democracy and endangering U.S. nationals. Noriega was found guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to 40 years in prison.