Panama’s Struggle for Democracy

Sharon Erickson Nepstad

in Nonviolent Revolutions

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778201
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199897216 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics

Panama’s Struggle for Democracy

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In 1987, Panamanian business and civic leaders formed the National Civic Crusade (NCC). The NCC’s goal was to use strategic nonviolence to overthrow Manuel Noriega’s military regime. Toward this end, the movement launched mass demonstrations and general strikes, which caused foreign investors to withdraw billions of dollars from Panamanian banks. When the United States froze all Panamanian assets held in U.S. banks, Noriega was unable to pay government employees, which created more resistance. Despite a deteriorating economy and massive popular defiance, Noriega’s crafty countermoves enabled him to cling to power. He turned U.S. sanctions to his advantage, winning financial support from Libya and Nicaragua. He retained his sanctioning powers by permitting military officers to engage in corrupt but lucrative practices, which provided incentives for preserving Noriega’s power. As a result, the National Civic Crusade was unable to overthrow Noriega, who remained in power until the U.S. military invasion in 1989.

Keywords: Panama; National Civic Crusade; Manuel Noriega; international sanctions

Chapter.  6946 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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