Pdf/E–book (Getting to Know the General)

Getting To Know The General is a little known out of print nonfiction book by one of my favorite writers Graham Greene The I ve been reading uite a few books by Graham Greene over the past few years Getting to Know the General The Story of an Involvement was one of his later books and the 3rd book of non fiction of his that I ve read It is about General Omar Torrijos Herrera the leader of Panama in the 70s who was killed in a plane crash in 1981 Greene was invited to Panama to meet him in 1976 and the two became friends over the next years As well it is also a book about Torrijos friend and confidante Chucho who is the o between and constant companion of Greene on his visits to Panama Greene has a wonderful way of telling stories whether fiction or non fiction You can feel the Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood genuine affection he feels for the country and Torrijos and Chucho He travels considerably during his brief visits to Panama often accompanying Torrijos to other countries or representing him to Nicaragua Cuba even the US I m constantly amazed at the access that heains in this book and the places he has visited over the course of his life Most interesting book I was a young kid when I read this book okay 25 and what I thought was Greene was such a rebel He Imagine That! gets an invitation to visit General Omar Torrijos of Panama in 1976 andets to know him This Elena's Conquest gets him kicked out of the US and treads on dangerousrounds for his travels But Greene was just that sort of characterand that is what makes this such a Sister of My Heart good read I found this story Getting to Know the General by Graham Greene uite interesting and so because I was living and working in Panama when the events were happening So I have a little story of my encounter with General Omar Torrijos Herrera one bright sunny tropical day whileoing to pick up a visitor who was coming to inspect an automated inventory system I was installing in our operation of the Army and Air Force Exchange Panama but it really sets the whole tone of what happen during Mr Henley s visit So here King Alfred's Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies goesthe day I had my close encounter with General Omar Torrijos HerreraFirst a little bit of history about the GeneralGeneral Omar Torrijos Herrera 1929 1981 was born in the province of Santiago He took part in the coup that deposed Presidente Arnulfo Arias in 1968 He became commander of the National Guard and soon emerges as the strongman of the new regime He exercised full control ruling by decree an imprisoning or exiling all his opponents until his untimely death in an airplane crash in 1981 Here is my little story It really happened which at the time seemed unbelievable that it was happening to me Now picture if you will a sunny morning in Panama with the time almost 10 O clock and you are running late in picking up an inspector from the States So you are trying to make time by racing You are in a small blue VW heading in the direction of the Metro Theater on a narrow street one over from Balboa Avenue You are about to pass the intersecting street up from the Cafe del Boulevard When suddenly out of nowhere a monstrousreen Mercedes with its engine racing cuts in front of you You react uickly by slamming on your brakes and leaning on your horn As your tires scream like a banshee on the plains of Zimbabwe you notice that a man in uniform occupies the back seat of the Mercedes He is smoking a large Cuban cigar Your #eyes meet his briefly and his large Mercedes accelerates He must be #meet his briefly and his large Mercedes accelerates He must be for his appointment too The chase car has his bodyguards who at this point are just trying hard to keep up with the Rescuing Gus general s car The whole incident takes a few seconds but your whole life as you know it flashes before your eyes The bodyguards are brandishing submachineuns As they speed by you uickly pullover to the curb and then stop the VWAs you sit there thanking your lucky stars that you stop for some chance tickets at La Loteria building and a Raspado Crazy Italian Ice for the roadyou say softly Thank you God After a few moments you continue to the International Hotel located on the Plaza de Cinco de Mayo The story would end therebut no there is As you all remember close parking to the International is at a premium at almost any hour of the day As you et closer you spot a at a premium at almost any hour of the day As you et closer you spot a Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story green Mercedes in front of the entrance The bodyguards are deployed Youo around the Plaza and notice that there is only one parking spot available but one of the How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly--and the Stark Choices Ahead general s bodyguards is standing in it You have alreadyone around twice so you beep your horn He looks your way swings his machine pistol in your direction but steps out of the way as you ease into the parking space You are wearing a white Pana Brisa and you are sweating bullets no pun intended You et out of the VW which you have nicknamed Herbie 2 from the movie of The Love BugSome people when they are very nervous they talk to themselves Well I am carrying on a full conversation First with Herbie 2 as I leave him in the parking space and later with myself as I rush to meet my party staying at the International Hotel I had tried to put him up at the Tivoli Guest House but his stateside travel agency had made his reservations I enter from the bright sunshine to a somewhat cooler interior of the lobby and proceed to the courtesy phone I ring the visiting fireman s room from the main office He picks up on the first ring and tells me that he will be right down I walk over to the bank of elevators and notice that one is already descending The doors open suddenly right in front of me Guess who No it is not the Headuarters Manager that I am to pick up and bus to Fort Clayton No it is General Omar Torrijos Herrera in the flesh As he heads toward me his bodyguards swarm around me like killer bees Again my whole life flash. Greene's account of a five year personal involvement with Omar Torrijos ruler of Panama from 1968 81 and Sergeant. Getting to Know the General

Graham Greene ¹ 1 DOWNLOAD

Sed something of a furore in #America s political circuits who were aghast at surrendering their vital strategic asset And yet the #s political circuits who were aghast at surrendering their vital strategic asset And yet the is less concerned with the Treaty the behind the scenes chicanery that resulted in it being signed despite the enerally uneasy relations between USA and Panama or even the apprehensive aftermath rather Greene is interested in chronicling his freewheeling adventures with the General with whom he shares a melancholic sense of introspection as well as a blustery sense of mischief and oodwill Sergeant Chuchu the General s trusted right hand man whose belligerent idealism is as infectious as the complexities of his marriage and sexual life are befuddling and a host of other intriguing real life characters the determined heroic Sandinistas on exile from Nicaragua the General s allies in the neighbouring islands and also a few comically sinister men prowling on the periphery wondering what is Greene really up to here Indeed what was he up to in Panama a place which unlike his other beloved foraging rounds like Indo China Cuba Paraguay has little of that sinful dangerous allure that so excited him about them in the first place The answer to that is the General and Chuchu s company the rollicking picaresue spells of flying from here to there in planes in bad weather drinking rum cocktails and Pisco Sours well into the night fancying beautiful women and also trying to make some sense of the strange political conundrums in the region And so the book is fun to read than it should be Greene dispensing largely with standard issue political commentary and instead diving into the centre of all the action thus ripping us readers into the tale and travesty effortlessly as ever and eventually helping us understand the General and all these people very believably General Torrijos emerges in this slim charming book as an enigmatic and admirable personality In a bright contrast to most other South American dictators and rulers sponsored for most part by the United States and almost tyrannical in their methods he was amiable affable and even mild mannered in turns he is portrayed here as nursing the dream of bringing freedom to Panama and also establishing it as an independent republic capable of negotiating with any of the superpowers without bowing to their whims and fancies He is considerate of the woes of the villagers he is prudent enough not to commit totally to Communism and at the same time he also heeds the advice of his fellow leaders most notably Fidel Castro on how to act on crucial decisions On top of that he is just the uixotic hero that a man like Greene both dignified and raffish would look up to and admire Not everything in this book is fun and frivolity though Greene s usual penchant for journalistic observation pads these mellow boisterous memories with a depth of political prescience he is aware at all times of the General s political dilemma of being torn between leading an armed confrontation with USA which is what his own people expect from him and following the cautious taciturn course of negotiating a fair treaty for returning the Canal to his people The writer true to his finely sharpened flair for thrillers also portrays the interplay between Torrijos and his neighbouring states and how the General represented a paradigm shift in the status of Latin America on the stage of shift in the status of Latin America on the stage of democracy and sovereignty And as the book arrives at its expected but still heartbreaking denouement the accidental death of Torrijos which was suspected widely and even plausibly as an insidious plot by the Reagan administration though Greene impressively does not choose easy answers Getting To Know The General also becomes something else a wistful lament about the near failure of a dream the dream that the General cherished about his and other South American countries being able to throw away the mantle of America s pervasive political intervention and build and evolve themselves into sovereign countries capable of a functional overnment Even as we might not be aware of the actual realities in the present day we can all agree on how that dream has either faltered or been nipped in the bud time and again Brilliantly evocatively written with that trademark lucid prose irreverent asides and wry character sketches and with both a warm poignancy and an astute understanding of political conundrums Greene s book predictably and happily so is worth reading again and again I think Graham Greene was 80 when this book was published Early on maybe in the introduction he says that the book is about Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi getting to know Omar Torrijos s securityuard the improbably named Chuchu than it was about After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 getting to know theeneral himself Though Chuchu and Torrijos are invariably charming it s the narrator in the Alien Alpha gloaming of his life who steals the show I am certain that was unintentional But only through the eyes of someone capable of immense charm adventure and most of all love can a reader experience those things in his charactersAnyway I ended the book sad and in love with all three of them Plenty of politics but in a soft background way At one point Greene posits that socialism is just what happens whenood hearted kids row up and et power My favorite paragraph has to do with a bird that sings only when with its mate I wrote a letter to Graham Greene in my head I ll be waiting forever to send it Fear can be easily experienced but fun is hard to come by in old age Although the book could do with of the incredible literary abilities of the author seen in his novels the insight into what would normally be events happening behind closed doors is second to none How fascinating that Greene was iven such access to important political ev. An inspirational politician in the vital period of his country's history and to an unusual and enduring friendshi. Es before me I do what anybody else would do in such a situation and say Buenos Dias mi General He runts a reeting as he passes me and heads for the doors And at that very moment the elevator doors open and the person I m to pick up steps out into the lobby He sees the eneral departing and says Louie that is the eneral did you see him I answered Yes I know Well he continues with Now I ll have something to tell the people back at the home office And I think someday I ll have to tell my little storyWell his inspection tour of our operations oes well He stays about a week Then after some sightseeing and shopping I take him to the airport And he is Beautiful Ghosts gone until his next visit I never have another close encounter with theeneral A year later I transfer to San Francisco California Sometime later in a stateside newspaper I read of the Alexandra, Gone general s untimely death in an airplane crash Over the years when I think about that close encounter I say to myself that everything in life is a matter of timing My being a little late at that intersection saved me from my final curtain call I thank God that he was watching out for me that day It could have been different and I may not be here at this keyboard relating to you an incident that when I wasoing through it appeared like something out of the Twilight Zone and in very very slow motion Again time marches onGraham Greene s book A Year in 120 Recipes goes into some background information and events that did not come to life until the General passed in a tragic airplane accident Some of the accident is still cloak in mystery The inspectors after much analysis reach the conclusion that it was not engine failure so it must have been the terrible weather the plane was flying in toet over a ridge of mountains or pilot error I strongly recommend that all who are interested to read the book and draw your own conclusions For anyone interested in the politics of Central America in the 1970s and 1980s which of course also reuires an interest in the US intervention in the isthmus that intensified during the later stages of the Cold War this book provides fascinating insights into some of the key personalities involved Of course apart from Greene himself whose knowledge of the region F. Scott Fitzgerald grows with his friendship with theeneral we mainly find ourselves The Devil Hath Been Raised: A Documentary History of the Salem Village Witchcraft Outbreak of March 1692; Together With a Collection of Newly Located and Gathered Witchcraft Documents getting to know Omar Torrijos and his political amanuensis and bodyguard Chuchu Simply as a travelogue the book works because of the personalities the uirky and enigmatic Torrijos the ever willing and slightly crazy Chuchu and the pliable curious Graham Greene happy to be pushed into various political roles and literally to enjoy the ride as heets dispatched to various parts of Panama or the wider region often in the presidential planeIn those couple of decades Torrijos was an influential figure not only in Panama principally in steering the agreement on the future of the canal and its return to Panamanian control but also in his involvement in regional politics He often operated behind the scenes iving support to the rebel armies challenging right wing overnments in various countries providing refuge to people who needed a place of away from the different struggles not only uerilla Leaders But Also Campesinos And Publicly Or Clandestinely Seeking but also ordinary campesinos and publicly or clandestinely seeking to the conflicts Greene is fascinated by Torrijos s self adopted regional role and becomes a willing co conspiratorWhile the focus of the book is on the two main Panamanian characters we et vignettes #Of Many Others Gabriel Garcia Maruez Fidel Castro Eden Pastora #many others Gabriel Garcia Maruez Fidel Castro Eden Pastora Borge and many We et snapshot views of the canal zone the rain swept Bocas de Toro the San Blas islands where the Kuna people live and many parts of the rest of Central AmericaGreene undertakes all this with seeming reluctance he is constantly fretting about the need to et back to Antibes to sort out some domestic problem but in practice he is ineluctably drawn in by the combined charms of Torrijos and Chuchu And we of course as readers are similarly seducedGreene s last journey to Panama is in the aftermath of Omar Torrijos s death when his plane mysteriously crashes in a remote part of the country At first Greene believes that the crash must have been a result of pilot error even though earlier in the book he reveals that Torrijos spoke of the possibility of his being assassinated Then Greene is shown some intelligence reports showing the distorted view of Torrijos held by the US administration and he becomes suspicous that the death of his friend was not accidental Definitive proof that it was a CIA led plot has not yet surfaced as far as I m aware but it seems likely Certainly the insider John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man believed that this was the case Graham Greene was to die before these further revelations emerged Trust Graham Greene to make a biography as well as a nuanced and objective account of the political tumult of South and Central America in the 1970s and 1980s not only so compulsively instantly readable and entertaining but also most crucially warm wise witty even hilariously absurd and ultimately poignant and profound in turns Getting To Know The General is uncharacteristically for a man who could never uite bring himself to trust a single leader or ideology above all these things too it is a stirring entle even uixotic tale of friendship and camaraderie between Greene and General Omar Torrijos the military leader of Panama s National Guard who had among other notable things assumed de facto reign of Panama and was also the leader who had eventually negotiated the Torrijos Carter treaty in 1977 thus ensuring at least in piecemeal fashion the eventual handover of the Canal back to Panama a treaty that cau. Chuchu one of the few men in the National Guard whom the General trusted completely It is a fascinating tribute to. ,