Panama excavates body in search of victims of the 1989 U.S. invasion


Panama City (AP) —Investigators unearthed another body from Panama City’s cemetery on Thursday in an attempt to identify the body of a victim of the 1989 US invasion that robbed influential Manuel Antonio Noriega from power.

An initiative that began in 2020 has previously unearthed more than 30 sets of remains. The remains have been DNA tested in a program that raises the hopes of Panamas who have lived with unanswered questions about them, with relatives dying or disappearing, fate for 30 years.

One of the people the court ordered the investigators to search for was Carmendias, a 21-year-old woman who lived in the El Chorillo district, which was hit by bombs and fires during the invasion.

“I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Eva Diaz, Diaz’s sister. “It’s good that we have achieved this. God will be happy and they will find everyone and identify them.”

About 514 Panama soldiers and civilians are reportedly killed in the invasion along with 23 US troops. Human rights groups believe that the death toll of Panama may be higher.

Authorities approved the excavation of the bodies after the 2016 Truth Commission recorded the disappearance of about 20 people due to US military action.

Some families do not know where their relatives were buried or whether they were buried in the correct grave.

The daughter of a lieutenant in the Noriega army said the family claimed that the casket had not yet been answered and was mistakenly identified as containing his body.

Brenda Besancourt, 60, daughter of Braulio Besancourt, said, “I’ve been waiting for 31 years. Something happens as we approach the end.”

DNA testing is expected to take several months.