A Panamanian love story: Days of love and war
Days of love and war. Those were the days David Adams, now a senior editor at Univisión, lived when he traveled to Panama as a freelance reporter to cover the revolt that followed elections in which the opposition was trying to overthrow dictator Manuel Noriega. It was the prelude to the American invasion, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.
At the time, David was reporting on political and social events happening in the streets of the Panamanian capital. Little did he know that the Spanish woman he would run into one night at a restaurant called La Casa de los Mariscos, and who enchanted him at first sight, would become his best ally during the surprise invasion of the country.
Inés Lozano, daughter of the then-Spanish ambassador to Panama, wanted to show the British journalist some of the country’s less convulsed regions. She invited him to visit the beach of Isla Contadora for a fishing trip. In the middle of the outing, Adams was alerted by his editors about the serious situation in the capital. He had to put aside the incipient relationship.
At the capital, the opposition was pushing for Noriega's departure and the repression in the streets was growing.
“There were no cell phones, and there was no internet. But the public telephone booths worked very well,” he recalled. “I marked zero and communicated with London and other cities to send the reports, and used them to do interviews in the street. In doubt was what the United States would do after Noriega's forces had attacked two American Marines, killing one.”
The incident strained the relationship with the United States. Then President George H. Bush decided to send 26,000 troops, and on the night of Dec. 20, 1989, they invaded Panama to remove Noriega, ending his 21-year dictatorship.
“For the first three days after the invasion, I knew nothing about Ines,” Adams said. “She had retreated to the Spanish embassy in downtown Panama while I was staying at the Hotel Ejecutivo.”
On that fateful December night, everything shook as US forces launched “Operation Just Cause.” Political and military facilities were bombed, and many public buildings burned, Adams said.
With US troops closing in, Noriega decided to hide in the Nunciatura, the diplomatic representation of the Vatican in Panama. The nuncio was a friend of Tomás Lozano, the Spanish ambassador and father of Ines. Now, David not only knew of Ines’ whereabouts, but also where Noriego was hiding. He was able to break the news to the world.
Ines knew what was happening in the Nunciatura, as well as the efforts to broker Noriega’s surrender two weeks later. On January 3, Noriega surrendered to US troops and was taken prisoner to Miami.
Two years later, Adams and the ambassador's daughter, now the principal at the Metropolitan International School of Miami, were married.
Today, as many recall the 30th anniversary of the Panamanian invasion, Inés and David will celebrate their unexpected path to love in their Key Biscayne home.