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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 152 / 153

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The fraud and violence that accompanied an election called by Noriega in 1989 to legitimize his government and the failure of a coup attempt in October ultimately resulted in the invasion of Panama by U.S. troops in December. Noriega was arrested, brought to the United States for trial, and eventually was convicted on drug-trafficking charges.

Nearly a decade-and-a-half after the invasion by U.S. troops to restore democracy and halt drug trafficking, the situation in Panama remains problematic. The country is characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty, and corruption is pervasive. The economy is still closely tied to drug-money laundering, which has reached levels higher than during the Noriega years.

The 1999 elections produced a close campaign between Martin Torrijos, the son of Omar, and Mireya Moscoso, the widow of the president who had been ousted by Omar Torrijos. Moscoso emerged as a winner, with 44 percent of the vote, and became Panama's first woman president.

Moscoso opposes many of Perez's free-market policies and has been especially critical of any further plans to privatize state-owned industries.

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