Political map of South American nations 03 January 1990 (US invasion of Panama): As the Cold War came to a close in 1989, Soviet and Cuban support for Communist guerrilla movements in Latin America dried up. This left drug cultivation and trafficking (Illegal drug trade in Latin America) - already a destabilizing force in the region - as the main source of income for insurgents. By now, several governments had been compromised by drug money; most notably Panama, whose dictator, Manuel Noriega, was frequently referred to as a drug lord. Although they had originally backed him, the US eventually tired of Noriega's exploits and, in late 1989, invaded Panama and overthrew him (Operation Just Cause).