1990 Photo Contest, Spot News, 2nd prize

Ron Haviv

Agence France-Presse for Time

22 May, 1989

Opposition candidate Guillermo Ford is beaten by a pro government Dignity Battalion member during election violence. "Sabotage by uninvited foreigners" was the official reason General Noriega gave for declaring the presidential elections of 7 May invalid. The general held on to power until the end of the year. The photo was published on the front pages of newspapers worldwide, and on the covers of the American magazines Time, Newsweek and U.S. News. President George Bush specifically mentioned the photograph in his address to the nation on 20 December 1989, about the decision to invade Panama the night before: ‘The brave Panamanians elected by the people of Panama in the elections last May, President Guillermo Endara and Vice Presidents Calderon and Ford have assumed the rightful leadership of their country. You remember those horrible pictures of newly-elected Vice President Ford covered head to toe with blood, beaten mercilessly by so-called dignity battalions. Well, the United States today recognizes the democratically elected Government of President Endara. I will send our Ambassador back to Panama immediately.’

About the photographer

Ron Haviv

Award-­winning photojournalist Ron Haviv has produced images of conflict and humanitarian crises that have made headlines from around the world since the end of the Cold War. A c...

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