On Sunday, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega returned to his native country following 20-plus years in US and French jails. He returns home to serve his remaining days in a Panamanian prison as long as he is not released to house arrest because of old age.
The AP has a story on his return and how Panama is a much different country from which he left over 20 years ago. I am sure that it is. On the other hand, I imagine that Noriega is looking around the region and feeling right at home.
Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas are in power in Nicaragua. Honduras recently suffered a military coup. The generals are back in charge in Guatemala. Costa Rica is still the region's strongest democracy. The Castro brothers remain in control of Cuba. The FARC are still operating in their southern neighbor. The FMLN is in power in El Salvador.
Okay, maybe that last one is a little different. One would probably have to throw the PRI in Mexico in there as well.
I guess the other thing that he is asking himself is "Why me?" Of all the dictators and guerrillas in Central America to have committed human rights violations, why was I the only one to get put away for twenty years?
--- Mike Allison is an associate professor in the Political Science Department and a member of the Latin American and Women's Studies Department at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. You can follow his Central American Politics blog here.