CHAPTER 13Conversations with the General

The invitation was completely unexpected. One morning during that same 1972 visit, I was sitting in an office I had been given at the Instituto de Recursos Hidraulicos y Electrificación, Panama’s government-owned electric utility company. I was poring over a sheet of statistics when a man knocked gently on the frame of my open door. I invited him in, pleased with any excuse to take my attention off the numbers. He announced himself as the general’s chauffeur and said he had come to take me to one of the general’s bungalows.

An hour later, I was sitting across the table from General Omar Torrijos. He was dressed casually, in typical Panamanian style: khaki slacks and a short-sleeved shirt buttoned down ...

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