Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To jail or not to jail

You could argue for compassion for Manuel Noriega from a, well, compassionate point of view. He's old (77) and has been in jail a long time. However, I have to disagree with COHA about going easy on him because the United States is entirely to blame for everything he did:

COHA calls for compassion. House arrest is the proper sentence to mete out to a man who was but one of countless U.S. officials and Central American operators who worked outside the law and would never qualify for a red badge of courage.

This type of argument bothers me not because the U.S. is blameless, since I agree with many of the accusations in the article, but because it robs Latin America of agency. Individuals are simply puppets, pulled by the all-powerful strings in Washington. In this view, domestic Panamanian politics fades into the background or disappears entirely and Noriega is simply a product of circumstances. Given the canal, of course the United States always played a large role, but it was not the only player. The article doesn't even mention Omar Torrijos.

Anyway, why go easy on a dictator just because he received support from the U.S.?

As an aside, Randal Archibold at the New York Times writes that there's far more fuss about Noriega outside Panama than inside.


Lillie Langtry 12:04 PM  

I don't support "compassionate" acts such as pardons or house arrest for any of the Latin American human rights abusers. Of course, I fully support that they should have their human rights respected in accordance with their national laws - and that is a huge step more than they afforded their victims.

I particularly don't understand the calls for the Argentine human rights abusers to receive house arrest on grounds of age. Er, they're only so old when they're sentenced because they escaped justice for so long! By rights they should be 25 years into their sentences already. I'm aware that Noriega has been imprisoned for a long time already, but I still feel that not jailing him sends the wrong message to other perpetrators.

Defensores de Democracia 12:16 PM  

That was an excellent previous comment of Lillie Langtry about abuse of Human Rights and punishment for perpetrators. I applaud it.

The courts in Colombia have initiated many trials against corrupt incumbent Mayors and incumbent Congressmen.

Now some of the scoundrels and thieves in that Congress are trying to escape Justice by creating exonerating laws to absolve themselves from indictments.

I hope that the new "Fiscal General" Viviane Morales, she is like the "General Attorney" overseeing all District Attorneys can do something against these perpetrators, many of them linked to crimes of Paramilitaries or "Paracos", after many abuses of Human Rights.

If Criminals are not punished they will continue in Happy Criminality.

Greg Weeks 3:14 PM  

I don't feel sorry for Noriega and will be perfectly content if he dies in jail, but I doubt that the decision in Panama will send a signal to other perpetrators.

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