Operation Just Cause: An Oral History of the US-Panama War in 1989


In 1989, the United States went to war with Panama and their military dictator, Manuel Noriega in what is called Operation Just Cause. In “Ohio v. Panama” Alex explores the complex history between the US and the isthmus of Panama since the the country’s birth in 1903. This Memorial Day we will honor the legacy of PFC James Markwell (1968-1989), the fallen Army Ranger from Cincinnati, Ohio.

We speak with Markwell’s mother, Sandee Rouse, about her son’s life and legacy and how his ultimate sacrifice lead to a 25 year between Sandee and our 41st President, George H.W. Bush. We sit down with CSM (Ret.) Michael Hall of Lorain County, OH about his combat service Operation Just Cause as an Army Ranger. Mike Hall tells us about his missions in the war, including the opening raid on the airport outside Panama City that would take the life of Private First Class Jimmy Markwell.

We’re joined also by historians Juan Santamarina and Dr. Orlando Perez, from the University of Dayton and University of North Texas-Dallas, respectively. Juan tells us about the history of the comprehensive American role and presence in the isthmus of Panama during the 20th Century. Professor Santamarina discusses President Theodore Roosevelt’s role in the creation of the country of Panama and the completion of the all-important Panama Canal. The rocky relationship between the Americans and Panamanians that lead to the Torrijos-Carter Panama Canal Treaty in 1977.

Dr. Perez discusses the rise and fall of General Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian military dictator at the center of this war. From his possible role in a presidential assassination, the War on Drugs, the Contras and his eventual downfall and surrender to American authorities in the first weeks of the War. We also look at the controversy that surrounded Operation Just Cause over the last 30+ years and the state of the isthmus of Panama following the war.

This Memorial Day weekend we salute those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States of America. Ohio v. the World: an American History Podcast is part of the Evergreen Podcast Network www.evergreenpodcasts.com Check out all or old shows there. Please rate/review the show as well on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Have questions? Want an Ohio v. the World t-shirt or bumper sticker? Email Alex at ohiovtheworld@gmail.com.

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