US Invades Panama, 1989

In the silent hours after midnight in the dark night of the tropics, more than 27,000 undocumented US troops illegally stormed into Panama on December 20, 1989. Their target was General Manuel Noriega, a former ally of the US. Noriega was suspected of drug trafficking and had recently overturned the democratic election of the new President of Panama.  The Bush administration also listed defense of the Panama Canal among the reasons for the invasion.  After a few days of intense fighting, Noriega was captured. Debate still rages over the number of civilian casualties; the Pentagon estimated 516 Panamanian civilian deaths while a report by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark estimated close to 4,000 deaths. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless by the destruction and fighting.  (Photo by Christopher Morris, 2nd prize, Spot News stories for World Press Photos)