President Juan Carlos Varela on Saturday became the first Panamanian leader to attend a ceremony to remember victims of the 1989 invasion that toppled dictator Manuel Noriega.

The U.S. intervention known as Just Cause began 25 years ago, on Dec. 20, 1989, and ended with Noriega's surrender to American drug agents on Jan. 3. He remains in prison. The invasion killed 314 Panamanian soldiers and 200 civilians, the government says, while the U.S. reported losing 23 American soldiers.

Varela announced the government would form a commission to consider demands put forth by victims' families, such as declaring the date a national day of mourning. "My presence is an effort to unify the country, heal wounds, seek justice," Varela told reporters after a memorial Mass. "Even though 25 years have passed, it is clear that mourning has not ended due to issues that remain unresolved." - AP