Panama declares day of mourning for US invasion anniversary

Panama has declared a day of national mourning for Friday, the 30th anniversary of the U.S. invasion that ousted dictator Manuel Noriega

PANAMA CITY -- Panama declared a day of national mourning for Friday, the 30th anniversary of the U.S. invasion that ousted dictator Manuel Noriega and resulted in hundreds of deaths in the Central American nation.

The measure approved Wednesday by members of President Laurentino Cortizo’s Cabinet, a first for the country, has been a main demand of relatives of those killed in the military operation, who see it as a symbolic step toward justice for the deaths of Panamanian civilians and soldiers.

It calls for Panamanian flags to fly at half-mast on the anniversary, but not for obligatory closure of businesses and government offices.

Victims’ family members met earlier this week with Cortizo, who assumed the presidency in July after running with the Revolutionary Democratic Party, which was formerly considered the political arm of the now-defunct military regime.