John Bushnell, U.S. diplomat in Latin America, dies at 88

John A. Bushnell, a career Diplomatic officer who played a prominent diplomatic role in the 1989 US invasion of Panama that toppled powerfulman Manuel Antonio Noriega, died March 19 at a hospital in Leesburg, he is 88 years old.

The cause was a major heart attack, his son John M. Bushnell said.

Mr. Bushnell served more than three decades in the State Department, developing a reputation, a Washington Post reporter once wrotefor his “expert knowledge of economic and trade policy, his enduring power in the bureaucracy, and his extensive diplomatic experience.”

He spent many years of his career in Latin America, beginning with his first assignment abroad as an economist in Bogotá, Colombia, in the early 1960s. He was sent at the end of the year. that decade with similar roles for the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Mr. Bushnell served as deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs under President Jimmy Carter, who sought to promote human rights as a concern of US foreign policy. Latin America featured prominently in discussions of human rights at the time, with General Augusto Pinochet’s repressive regime in power in Chile, a military dictatorship waging a “Dirty War” in Argentina, and conflict and instability in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Policy debates are often directed against human rights activists against those who support strong US support for foreign governments against communist movements.

During the Reagan administration, Mr. Bushnell served as assistant secretary of state before being appointed Buenos Aires’ deputy mission in the aftermath of the Falklands War, in which British troops crushed Argentina’s attempt to claim power control the Falkland Islands. Archipelago.

Perhaps the most dramatic period of Mr. Bushnell’s career occurred in December 1989, when President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama to overthrow Noriega, who, among other concerns, was prosecuted. in the United States for widespread drug trafficking.

Mr. Bushnell at the time was serving as deputy chief of the mission in Panama City and said Secretary of State James A. Baker III called him on a secure line to inform him of the impending attack.

“Only two people in the entire State Department would know about this, and we’re on the phone,” Baker said, Bushnell said in a statement. oral history with the Diplomatic Training and Research Association. “Active secrecy is essential to success. Your job is to get a government to stand up when troops land. Can you do that? ”

Mr. Bushnell was ready for Guillermo Endara, an opposition leader who had won an earlier election voided by Noriega, to power and was eventually sworn in as president. Mr. Bushnell remained in Panama until his retirement in 1992, holding a role Los Angeles Times reporter describes is “the closest thing the United States has to a premier.”

In 1990, Bush nominated Mr. Bushnell as ambassador to Costa Rica, but the nomination was ultimately withdrawn, allegedly in part because of opposition from US Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a Republican. in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

John Alden Bushnell was born in Glen Cove, NY, on July 26, 1933. He grew up in Winsted, Conn., where his father owned a shop and where one of his closest childhood friends Bushnell is a prospective consumer advocate and presidential candidate. Ralph Nader. Mr. Bushnell’s mother was a teacher.

Mr. Bushnell received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University in 1955. He served in the Air Force and went on to study economics at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where he received his master’s degree in 1959. He entered the Department of Foreign Affairs. delivered in a short time. Later.

In addition to his duties in Latin America, Mr. Bushnell served as an economic official in Geneva and with staff members of the National Security Council.

In addition to his son, Mina, SD, survivors include his 59-year-old wife, former Ann Morel of Leesburg; two other sons, Mark Bushnell of McLean, Va., and Timothy Bushnell of Oxford, Pa.; eight grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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