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In photos: A friendship between two soldiers on opposite sides saved lives during the invasion of Panama

December 19 marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Panama that left hundreds dead. A fortuituous accident of history threw General Marc Cisneros and Captain Amadis Cisneros together. “We owe a very great debt to General Cisneros. He was the hero of Panama," says military historian Lawrence Yates.
9 Dic 2019 – 03:57 PM EST
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Captain Amadis Jimenez (left) and Gen (Rt) Marc Cisneros remain close friends 30 years after they fought on opposing sides in the invasion of Panama. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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Amadis Jimenez as a young cadet. Courtesy of Amadis Jimenez.
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Amadis Jimenez was promoted to captain a few days before the invasion of Panama. He took over his new command at the Coco Solo naval infantry base a few hours before the bombardment began. Seen here graduating as sub-lieutenant. Courtesy of Amadis Jimenez.
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Gen Marc Cisneros had a distinguished 35-year military career and was the highest-ranking Hispanic military officer by the time he retired in 1996. He fought in the legendary Tet offensive in Vietnam in the late 1960s. But it’s his role in the 1989 invasion of Panama – and what he did with Jimenez - that he will be most remembered for, perhaps. Crédito: Official photo, US Army.
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U.S. began shelling the Panamanian naval infantry base at Coco Solo at 11.20pm on December 19, 1989. It was the initial assault during Operation Just Cause and was one of the few bases where The Penagon sid U.S. forces encountered resistance, led by Panamanian Captain Amadis Jiménez. Crédito: Courtesy of Amadis Jiménez.
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During the invasion of Panama, Amadis Jiménez and Gen Marc are credited with convincing 75 percent of the Panamanian forces to surrender without a fight. "People describe Marc as having won the war with a telephone," said his former boss in Panama, Gen Fred Woerner. "He saw a way to accomplish the mission, and at the same time minimize the loss of life and destruction. He was the glue in Just Cause."
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After being captured by US forces during the invasion of Panama, Captain Amadis Jiménez requested his phone book where he had the numbers of Noriega commanders at Panamanian bases throughout the country to help General Marc Cisneros convince them that they surrendered without further bloodshed. Crédito: Courtesy of Amadis Jiménez.
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Cisneros found the perfect partner in Jimenez. When he got wind that U.S. forces had captured a Panamanian officer his curiosity was piqued by word that the prisoner was married to an influential family tied to the political opposition. Courtesy of Amadis Jimenez
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U.S. Army armored vehicles form a blockage on Panama City's Balboa Avenue, leading towards the Vatican Embassy Wednesday, Dec. 27, 1989 where Manuel Noriega has sought refuge. A crowd of Anti-Noriega demonstrators gather around the tanks. Crédito: JOE CAVARETTA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Gen Manuel Antonio Noriega Crédito: AP
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Lt. Daniel Barnett, of Willard, Ohio, mans the binoculars outside the front gate of the Vatican Embassy, Saturday, Jan. 7, 1989 in Panama City, where three days earlier strongman Manuel Noriega surrendered to U.S. authorities. Crédito: John Gaps/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Vatican ambassador Jose Sebastian Laboa walks through the gate past American soldiers into the embassy compound in Panama City where Gen Manuel Noriega sought refuge during the invasion, Jan. 1, 1990. Noriega surrendered two days later. Crédito: Matias Recart/AP
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US soldiers man their security position outside the Vatican embassy in Panama City where Panamanian General Manuel Noriega sought asylum, during Operation Just Cause, December 25, 1989. Crédito: MANOOCHER DEGHATI/AFP via Getty Images
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After he surrendered to U.S. forces on Jan 3, 1990, Noriega was quickly put aboard a U.S. plane to be taken to stand trial in Miami on drug cgarges. Crédito: AFP / Getty Images
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Gen Marc Cisneros during a post invasion helicopter trip to the interior of Panama to check on reconstruction efforts. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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Gen Marc Cisneros talking to a reporter during a visit to the interior of Panama after the invasion. With Noriega in prison in the United States, and a new democratically-elected president, Guillermo Endara, installed in Panama, the focus of U.S. troops switched to reconstruction and “nation building.” David Adams / Univision
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Cisneros only remained in Panama for six months after the invasion. Due to his testy relationship with General Thurman he requested a transfer. But his friendship with Jimenez lasts to this day. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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The son of a mechanic brought up on the Texas border with Mexico, Gen Marc Cisneros he could have been drawn straight out of central casting. Tall, muscular and ruggedly handsome, he had looks that belied his 50 years. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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Everyone in Panama knew who Gen Marc Cisneros was. He was practically a household name in Panama at the time due his ability to make plain-spoken radio interviews Spanish in which he frequently lambasted Noriega. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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The Panama invasion force was put under the command of Gen Maxwell Thurman (left), stern, by-the-book officer with little or no combat experience, known universally as ‘Mad Max.’ Thurman (left) seen here pinning a decoration on Cisneros (right). Crédito: Courtesy of General Cisneros.
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Gen Marc Cisneros at the end of his duty in Panama. Seen here with Gen Maxwell 'Mad Max' Thurman. Thurman didn’t trust the Spanish-speaking Texan. “It was two different mind sets. Thurman thought it was conventional warfare. He really didn’t like that Cisneros was the guy who knew what was going on,” said military historian Lawrence Yates. “Cisneros would talk about cultural awareness with his officers while Thurman went around in his military fatigues trying to impress everyone,” he added. Crédito: Courtesy of Gen Cisneros.
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"You have earned your country's lasting gratitude," reads this signed photo of gen Marc Cisneros with President George H Bush. It hangs prominently in Cisneros's home office in Corpus Christi, Texas. Cisneros comes from a family with a history of public service. His great uncle, J.T. Canales, was a leading Texas Mexican-American political leader, who helped found the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). After he retired from the military he was named president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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Cisneros and Jimenez on a hunting trip at the Kenedy Ranch in Texas. Seen here with a nilgai, the largest Asian antelope, after it was felled by Jimenez.
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Jimenez and Cisneros at the shooting range at the Kenedy Ranch in Texas where he served as CEO of the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation in Corpus Christi. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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The former U.S. base at Coco Solo at the Atlantic entrace to the Panama canal. Crédito: Pablo Cozzaglio/Univision
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From left to right, Amadis Jimenez, Eddy Cisneros and Marc Cisneros, at the Cisneros home in Corpus Christi, Texas. “I consider him almost as a son,” says Cisneros who recently celebrated his 56th wedding anniversary and has children of his own. Crédito: David Adams / Univision
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