Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Our Own like Errors and Ill Deservings

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Our Own like Errors and Ill Deservings

Article excerpt

Some argue that history never repeats itself, that every event carves a new record separate and distinct from anything gone before. Perhaps so. But last week, several fresh events seem to remind us - more than a little bit - of the past.

Panama: The political heirs of Gen. Manuel Noriega were voted into office.

In 1989, President George Bush declared Noriega as World Enemy No. 1. He was a drug-dealing despot, a threat to the security of the region and a threat to American interests. He had to go; so the United States invaded Panama and captured Noriega, who currently resides in the federal penitentiary at Marion, Ill.

The "business elite," as they were described at the time, were installed in power by American forces in order to bring integrity to government, clean up the drug market and pave the way for new elections.

It turned out that the reformers were just as crooked as the Noriega crowd. Panama continued as a major narcotics center and as a laundry for drug money. Unemployment increased. The smell of corruption pervaded the atmosphere.

Panama did hold free elections and the voters selected a "rehabilitated" Noriega puppet, Ernest Perez Balladares, who now claims that Noriega was not particularly his kind of dictator, but that Gen. Omar Torrijos, Noriega's predecessor, was a dictator he could truly admire.

Balladares is known on the streets as "The Bull" and assures that he will govern with firmness.

Bottom line: Business as usual in Panama - drugs and corruption will continue to reign supreme - Noriega's people back in charge.

Hungary: Four years ago, the people of Hungary voted the cleaned-up communists out of power and elected a conservative party that promised the economic benefits of free enterprise. Instead, the Hungarian economy collapsed.

So the free enterprise folks were voted out, and - guess what? - the cleaned-up communists were voted in. Poland and Lithuania had earlier engaged in this politics of communist restoration. …

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