All Material Copyright by Latin America Data Base.
Latin America Data Base News Items [PeaceNet]
June 1986 -- February 1987
CONFLICT OVER STAFFING OF PANAMA CANAL MANAGEMENT POSITIONS CONTINUES
On June 9, members of the Panama Canal Zone Managing Board
discussed the possibility of increasing Panamanian participation on
the board. At present, the board consists of nine persons, five from
the United States, the remainder Panamanians. The Canal agreement
between the U.S. and Panama in effect since October 1, 1979,
provides for the compulsory placement of Panamanians in key
positions in order for that country to gain complete control of Canal
operations by the year 2000.
At the present time, 82.5% of all Canal employees are Panamanian;
however, most are not positions of authority or responsibility for
canal maintenance. Local officials argue that Panamanians with
adequate technical knowledge to operate the Canal are available.
Moreover, the technology employed in Canal operations is relatively
simple; the canal was constructed in 1914. According to the current
agreement, the United States is responsible for canal maintenance
until December 25, 1999. At that time, all canal facilities must be
transferred to the Panamanian government in "perfect condition." In
recent statements, President Eric Arturo del Valle said Panamanians
are uneasy about privileges granted to U.S. nationals employed in
Canal activities, but denied to local workers.
PANAMANIAN GOVERNMENT CREATES COMMISSION TO "FORMULATE STRATEGY"
ON RECEIVING CANAL FACILITIES IN YEAR 2000
On June 25, Panamanian President Eric Arturo Delvalle met with his
cabinet ministers to analyze recent statements by US Sen. Jesse
Helms suggesting that Washington may not fulfill treaty obligations
pertinent to Panamanian sovereignty over the 50-mile Canal
facilities. During the administration of President James Carter, the
US signed treaties with the Omar Torrijos administration in Panama
which guaranteed Panamanian control of the Canal and seven US
military installations, effective December 31, 1999. Delvalle and
his ministers agreed to create a commission to "formulate strategy"
towards defending Panama's claim to the Canal.
According to a recent government report, Sen. Helms' remarks were
interpreted as damaging to future Panamanian sovereignty over the
Canal and related installations. June 30: In a statement to local
newspaper REPUBLICA, Pedro Brin Martinez, chair of the Panamanian
parliament's foreign affairs commission, said the House vote on June
25 is tantamount to a declaration of war against Central America.
Brin Martinez claimed that the US Congress and the State
Department must abandon violence if they wish to avoid a new
Vietnam. He stated that the only way to resolve the regional conflict
is through negotiations. --At the request of the Nicaraguan
government, the UN Security Council opened debate July 1 on US
aggression against that country. Earlier, foreign ministers of the
Contadora Group-- Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela--and a
majority of UN member nations denounced the House decision to
escalate the war in Central America.
CASTRO ADDRESSES RECENT NEGATIVE PUBLICITY ABOUT PANAMANIAN MILITARY LEADER
In a June 30 interview with Panamanian journalist Norma Nunez,
Cuban President Fidel Castro charged that recent publicity
surrounding the alleged illegal activities of Gen. Manuel Noriega was
engineered by the US State Department, Pentagon, White House and
Central Intelligence Agency. Castro's source was reportedly a US
National Security Council member. He then stated the "anti-Panama
campaign" was based on "alleged facts" in an attempt to cause
important changes in that nation's domestic and foreign policy.
According to President Castro, many conservatives in the United
States are concerned about changes in US strategic interests
resulting from the implementation of the Canal agreements. Any
disruption of Panamanian political stability, he said, will be used as
an argument for the US to renege on the agreements ratified in 1977
during the administrations of Gen. Omar Torrijos and James Carter.
The US campaign against Panama was described as a "dirty war."
Next, Castro denied that armed forces chief Gen. Manuel Antonio
Noriega had ever passed intelligence information to Cuba. He said
the intent of this charge published in the NEW YORK TIMES and other
US media sources was to cause a rift between Panama and Cuba.
Moreover, the Cuban president said he simply did not believe Noriega
would disclose information on Cuba to the United States. He pointed
out that relations with the Panamanian government, including Gen.
Noriega, had been very positive since the administration of former
president Omar Torrijos. As a case in point of Noriega's good will
to Cuba he pointed out that a critical moment during the US invasion
of Grenada, the general attempted to arrange a ceasefire and prevent
In reference to accusations by US Sen. Jesse Helms to the effect
that Noriega participated in the alleged murder of ex-President
Torrijos, Castro said, "That is even more outrageous...[to] those of
us who know of Noriega's loyalty to Torrijos."
The Cuban president then pointed out that the United States had used
similar "defamation" tactics against Mexico, exemplified by Sen.
Helms' "slanderous and dirty" accusations against President Miguel
de la Madrid. He said that for about 15 days Mexico and Panama were
targets of "blatant, bare-faced intervention" by the United States.
The Cuban president stated that the Panamanian military remains
unified. He warned that if the US manages to destabilize the country
by causing splits in the National Guard and between the Guard and
the populace, the Canal will not revert to Panama in the year 2000.
Castro did not rule out the possibility of Noriega becoming the
target of assassination attempts.
The interview was broadcast on Panamanian television and radio,
with the exceptions of Channel 4, and National Radio.
PANAMA'S RULING PARTY JOINS SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL
On July 3, General Secretary Carlos Ozores of Panama's ruling
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) announced that the PRD has
decided to join the Socialist International as a "consultative
member." Party members of the SI in this capacity do not exercise
voting rights, but participate in meetings and all deliberations of
the international organization.
A Panamanian delegation consisting of Ozores, Foreign Relations
Secretary Nils Castro and trade union leader Pablo Arosemena,
attended the 17th SI world congress in Lima, Peru, which took place
in late June. The SI congress approved a resolution supporting US
compliance with the Canal treaties established during the
administrations of the late Gen. Omar Torrijos, and former US
President Jimmy Carter. If treaty provisions are realized, Canal
facilities and seven US military bases in the area would revert to
Panamanian control in the year 2000.
GENERAL NORIEGA ADDRESSES RALLY:
PANAMA WILL STAND FIRM AGAINST US SLANDER CAMPAIGN
Speaking before a rally July 4 at Defense Headquarters in Panama
City, Gen. Manuel Noriega said the country's armed forces will never
lower the Panamanian flag from Ancon Hill. Noriega told the
thousands of transport workers and union leaders, "We are
committed to a struggle which will not end until we have achieved
full sovereignty over the Canal." In reference to US media reports in
mid-June of the General's alleged corruption and illegal activities,
Noriega said, "The US- orchestrated campaign against this country is
damaging our youth, the people's dignity and the generation who
contributed to giving Panama its own identity."
"We are inheritors of the achievements that [the late Gen. Omar]
Torrijos obtained with firmness and patriotism. This heritage is
sacred and we will protect it from any kind of slander or
conspiracy," he added.
Noriega then stated that the future belongs to a specifically
Panamanian democracy "which does not need to copy" foreign models.
PANAMA DENIED PAYMENT OF $54 MILLION IN CANAL PROFITS
US representatives on the Panama Canal Commission executive body
have rejected the Panamanian government's request for payment of
$54.3 million derived from Canal profits. In comments to daily
newspaper LA PRENSA on July 12, Deputy Carlos Ozores said the US
representatives were "completely barefaced when they say they owe
nothing to the National Treasury." The deputy's statements followed
the conclusion of a two-day meeting by the executive.
On July 9, Panamanian Foreign Jorge Abadia announced that his
government had presented a formal request to Washington
concerning payments of Canal profits.
According to Ozores, Panamanian delegates managed to persuade US
counterparts of another point requested by Panama City. A study
group will be established to design an effective program for
increasing the number of Panamanian personnel in executive and
management posts on the Canal Commission. The program is to be
presented at the Commission's general meeting in October.
Next, Panamanian delegates insisted that the Commission adjust
Panama's share of operations and maintenance expenses according to
the realities of that country's budgetary capacity. In this way,
Panama's share of Canal expenses would not be "artificially high,"
which effectively prevents the country from receiving a larger share
PANAMA'S RULING PARTY OPPOSES MUTUAL LEGAL AID TREATY PROPOSED BY WASHINGTON
According to an article on the editorial page in the July 11 edition
of the daily newspaper LA ESTRELLA, Panama's ruling Democratic
Revolutionary Party (PRD) rejects the Mutual Legal Aid treaty
proposed by the United States. PRD spokespersons have stated that
acceptance of the treaty would be tantamount to denying Panamanian
sovereignty and independence.
The editorial stated that since 1978 the US government has been
pressuring Panama City to sign a bilateral accord which would
provide Washington with access to Panamanian bank records of both
state and private institutions.
The Reagan administration recently presented a draft treaty which
according to the PRD would eliminate the country's status as
international financial center, anonymity of banking accounts, coded
accounts, the nation's trade coding system, shipping registration,
and other trade activities. Next, the treaty would provide US
officials access to banking and trade information, and the means to
confiscate accounts and goods, without the prior authorization by
The PRD calls on the government to maintain a "firm position" in
treaty negotiations, and urges business organizations to form a
national united front to defend Panamanian sovereignty.
PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN TO INFORM FOREIGN AND NATIONAL
PUBLIC OPINION ON INTERPRETATION OF CANAL TREATY 7/18/86
Panamanian President Eric Arturo del Valle announced July 15 the
beginning of a national and foreign campaign to demonstrate the
"correct interpretation" of the Torrijos-Carter treaties pertaining
to the Canal Zone. According to the Canal treaty authored by the
administration of US President James Carter and the late Gen. Omar
Torrijos of Panama, the 50-mile waterway and military
installations in the Canal Zone would come under Panamanian control
in the year 2000.
President del Valle's announcement followed the presentation of a
detailed report to the Cabinet by Oyden Ortega on the July 9-10
meeting of the joint US-Panama Canal Commission executive board.
Ortega is a member of the Canal Commission.
CHINESE OFFICIALS EXPRESS INTEREST IN EXPANDING RELATIONS WITH PANAMA
On Aug. 4, Chinese Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang and National Assembly
Chairman Peng Zhen, called for expanding relations with Panama.
Ziyang and Zhen announced their interest during a meeting with a
Panamanian legislative delegation in Peking. The Panamanian
delegation is headed by national assembly chairman Camilo Gozaine.
Ziyang praised Panama's independent and non-aligned policy and its
position favoring the peaceful settlement of the Central American
conflict without foreign intervention. Regarding bilateral
relations, he said many possibilities exist for trade expansion.
PANAMA: DEMONSTRATION IN CAPITAL CITY DEMANDS US ADHERENCE TO CANAL TREATIES
On August 12, thousands from throughout the country demonstrated
in Panama City for "sovereignty of the Panama Canal." Military
troops under the direction of Gen. Manuel Noriega, also participated
in the demonstration.
The demonstrators' major slogan--"The Canal Treaty in the Year
2000"--referred to the 1977 treaties between the governments of
former US President James Carter and Gen. Omar Torrijos.
Accordingly, the Panama Canal and related facilities, including US
military installations, will revert to Panamanian control on
December 31, 1999.
In the past four months, Panamanian politicians and members of the
armed forces have expressed concern over US reluctance to abide by
obligations contained in the treaties. Indicative of such concerns
are Panamanian complaints that nationals are underrepresented in
Canal facility executive, managerial and technical positions.
Next, in mid-June a major expose of Panama's military strongman,
Gen. Manuel Noriega, appeared in the US media. Charges against him
included arms and drug trafficking, murder of a political opponent,
and espionage for the US as well as Cuba, all with the complicity of
the civilian government. Since then, most Panamanian political
parties, civic organizations and elements of the armed forces have
"closed ranks" around Noriega, in an effort to repel what is
interpreted as US attempts to undermine the government of
President Eric Arturo Delvalle. Some feared that the US and local
parties representing the "oligarchy" and social sectors opposed to
policies established by the late Gen. Torrijos, were organizing a
PANAMANIAN LEGISLATORS SUPPORT RESUMPTION OF RELATIONS
WITH PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA
According to local media reports on August 9, Panamanian
legislators are exploring the resumption of relations with the
Peoples Republic of China. Camilo Gozaine, chairman of the
legislative assembly, is currently visiting China.
Raul Montenegro, of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD),
said that Panama should "develop relations with whomever it
wants." He added, "We cannot ignore the role played by the Peoples
Republic of China, the country with the largest population in the
Montenegro noted that China has historically supported Panamanian
aspirations for independence, as clearly stated in UN Security
INTERNATIONAL PEACE GROUP CONDEMNS US PRESSURE ON PANAMA AND MEXICO
In an Aug. 19 statement issued from its office in Panama City, the
International Network for Peace in Central America condemned US
pressure and intimidation of Mexico and Panama. The statement was
signed by the Network's Central American coordinator, Dalys Vargas.
The statement claimed US pressure is motivated by an attempt to
persuade the two nations into an alliance with Washington's Central
American policy. Both Panama and Mexico are key members of the
Contadora Group. Along with Colombia and Venezuela, the
governments of the two countries have been actively seeking a
negotiated solution to the conflict in Central America since 1983.
Next, according to the statement, the Reagan administration is
manipulating international public opinion via sending troops to
Bolivia to destroy the drug traffic system, and its recent
intervention in Chile with the stated objective of promoting
democracy and human rights. The Network said these actions are
mechanisms to pressure Latin American nations into accepting
armed US intervention in Nicaragua.
PANAMANIAN MEDIA, SALVADORAN REBELS REPORT ON HONDURAN AND SALVADORAN
MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN WEAPONS CONTRABAND FOR CONTRAS
According to an Aug. 18 report by rebel station RADIO VENCEREMOS,
Honduran and Salvadoran army personnel under Salvadoran army
chief of staff Gen. Adolfo Blandon are cooperating in transporting
material aid to the Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras. Transport
planes are being provided by the CIA. The rebel broadcast also
mentioned the seizure on April 29 of a ship carrying weapons
destined for the contras by the Panamanian navy under orders by Gen.
Manuel Noriega. The ship was bound for the Salvadoran port of
Acajutla. On the following day, both US allies forwarded a formal
protest to the Panamanian government. According to an Aug. 18
report by the official Panamanian newspaper HOY, the ship in
question was the Danish "Pia Vesta," and that the weapons were to
be received by the Salvadoran military and the contra armies.
Another Panamanian newspaper, LA REPUBLICA, said that the
Honduran government participated in the operation, serving as a go-
between for the CIA and the smugglers; the latter purchased the
weapons in East Germany with the use of fake documents. LA
REPUBLICA also reported that parties involved in the operation
commandeered by US arms smuggler David Duncan, attempted to
implicate the Peruvian government by stating the cargo was
destined for that country's El Callao port. The Pia Vesta never
docked at the Peruvian port. When the ship changed course, the
Peruvian government informed the Panamanians of the ship's
"suspicious behavior," said LA REPUBLICA. The Peruvian
Foreign Ministry also reportedly requested information from the
Washington regarding Duncan's activities. Next, the newspaper
claimed Duncan accepted an agreement with the Honduran
government wherein the weapons would be surreptitiously diverted
to the contras in Honduran territory. The Danish ship was seized by
the Panamanian navy. The cargo--including 32 trucks, 1,500 rifles
and 1,440 RPG-18 anti-tank missiles--was confiscated; according
to Panamanian law, the confiscated material becomes the property
of the government.
PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NATIONAL TERRITORY WILL NOT BE USED
TO TRAIN NICARAGUAN CONTRAS
At an Aug. 23 museum opening, Panamanian President Eric Arturo del
Valle told an audience that his government will not permit that
national territory be used as a training camp for
counterrevolutionaries attacking Nicaragua. Del Valle spoke at an
opening of a museum housing pre-Colombian archaeological artifacts
and jewelry in Penonome City, Cocle province.
The president was responding to press reports indicating that the US
Southern Command, headquartered in the Panama Canal Zone, will
provide military training to the Nicaraguan contras.
Del Valle said that Panama, as member nation of the Contadora
Group, and therefore committed to a peaceful resolution to the
Central American conflict, will not permit national territory to be
used in training military troops attacking a sister nation.
PANAMA TO CONDEMN US BREACHES OF CANAL TREATIES
AT NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT SUMMIT CONFERENCE
The Panamanian government this week announced that it will
condemn the United States for reneging on provisions contained in
the Panama Canal treaties at the September 7-9 Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM) summit conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. The
treaties were signed in 1977 between governments of US President
Jimmy Carter and Panamanian President Gen. Omar Torrijos.
Panamanian officials also said the Reagan administration will be
criticized for the slander campaign against that country's military
and civilian authorities as part of US pressure to continue
controlling the canal beyond the year 2000.
Heading Panama's delegation to the NAM summit is Vice President
Roderick Esquivel. He will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign
Minister Jose Maria Cabrera and Panamanian Ambassador to the
United Nations Leonard Kam, among others.
The Canal treaties went into effect on October 1, 1979. Only days
before the US Congress passed a bill (96-70) known as Murphy's Law,
which gave American employees in the Canal facilities special
privileges apparently not enjoyed by Panamanian employees. Some of
these privileges include access to low-priced gasoline, water and
housing; the use of diplomatic pouches, and high salaries and
U.S. BLAMED FOR DETERIORATION OF PANAMANIAN RAILWAY SYSTEM
At an Aug. 29 press conference in Panama City, Maj. Fernando
Quesada, director of Panama's transcoastal railway, said the United
States is responsible for the precarious condition of the railway.
The US Southern Command, headquartered in the Panama Canal zone,
issued a decree recently prohibiting US military personnel from
using the railway because it was a safety hazard.
Quesada told reporters that the railway was turned over to the
Panamanian government in a poor state of repair after the 1977
Canal treaties between the two governments went into effect in
1979. He said the US contributed to the deterioration of the railway
since "not even one cent" was spent to maintain it for years prior to
the signing of the Canal treaties. The railway director declared that
it was "regrettable" US soldiers have joined in the campaign against
Panama, the sole purpose of which is to renege on the treaties which
state that the Canal and all related facilities will become
Panamanian property in the year 2000. He said that when the
treaties were signed, Washington did not "put all its cards on the
table," in reference to the failure to discuss a report on railway
conditions drafted in 1976.
According to Quesada, rehabilitation of the railway, including the
main trunk line linking Panama City on the Pacific side to Colon on
the Atlantic, will require up to $50 million. He pointed out that
the railway is part of the Canal's facilities, and necessary to
operating the waterway.
The major said, "We believe that instead of trying to escape their
responsibilities, the North Americans should contribute to resolving
the problems they have created in the railway system by delivering
it [to the government] in operational condition."
LEADER OF PANAMANIAN RULING PARTY SAYS TORRIJISTA FOREIGN POLICY
MUST BE REAFFIRMED AT NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT SUMMIT
Leader of Panama's ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party, Alberto
Lopez Tirona, told reporters in Panama City on Sept. 2 that his
government must take advantage of the eighth Non- Aligned
Movement (NAM) summit conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, to
"reaffirm the international policy" mapped out by the late Gen. Omar
Torrijos. Lopez said that Panamanian foreign policy should
strengthen the principles of non-alignment at the NAM summit.
Next, he declared that the Panamanian delegation to the summit must
"condemn the irregularities in implementing the Torrijos-Carter
Canal treaties, and particularly the negative effects of Law 96-70."
The latter, said Lopez Tirona, is a consequence of the unilateral
interpretation by the United States of the Canal treaties.
Panama's non-aligned policy, he added, has always been clear,
realistic and consistent in keeping with "our vocation of an
independent and sovereign country, respecting the principle of non-
Lopez Tirona recently published an essay titled, "The Historical
Challenge of Panama's Foreign Policy," in which he states that his
country is "aware" of the threats to peace that military solutions
to political conflicts would bring.
Panama has been an active participant in the Non-Aligned Movement
since former President Gen. Torrijos attended the fourth summit
meeting in Algiers in 1973. After Panama was admitted to NAM as a
full member, Torrijos also attended the fifth summit in Colombo
(1976), and the sixth summit in Havana, Cuba (1979).
SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT AND REBEL REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN PANAMA CITY
FOR SECOND PRELIMINARY MEETINGS TO PEACE TALKS
On Sept. 10 Salvadoran media sources announced that Vice President
and Foreign Minister Rodolfo Castillo Claramount will represent the
government of Jose Napoleon Duarte at the second preliminary
discussions before the peace talks. The preliminary meeting will
take place in Panama City Sept. 12 and will focus on security
measures and the agenda for the third round of peace talks scheduled
for Sept. 19 in Sesori, a town located southeast of San Salvador.
PRESENCE OF US MARINES AND EXPANSION OF AIR BASE FACILITIES
CONDEMNED BY PANAMANIAN SOLIDARITY ORGANIZATION
In a Sept. 10 statement released in Panama City, the National
Coordinator of Solidarity Organizations (CONASOL) condemned the
presence of US Marines on the outskirts of Herrera and Veraguas.
CONASOL said that US Marines, alongwith soldiers of other
nationalities participating in training exercises on Panamanian
soil, had also been observed in jungle and (Atlantic) coastal areas
of Colon province.
Next, the statement declared that flights of US military transport
aircraft landing at the Howard air base are increasing. Moreover,
runways and hangars at the air base are being expanded and
upgraded, aid CONASOL in preparation for the escalation of the
conflict in Central America.
Finally, the statement condemned US interference in Central
America, and particularly, in Nicaragua.
PANAMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS WASHINGTON ATTEMPTING
TO IMPOSE NEW MILITARY PACT ON PANAMA
According to Ruben Dario Souza, General Secretary of the Panamanian
Peoples Party (PPP), the United States is attempting to impose a new
military pact on Panama as part of the Reagan administration's
"neoglobalist strategy." Dario told reporters in Panama City Sept. 8
that an analysis of Washington's foreign policy indicates that
Panama is a key factor, as site of the US Southern Command.
In Souza's opinion, the Southern Command, located in the Panama
Canal zone, will be reorganized and equipped in accordance with a
higher level of autonomy and leadership of several specialized
forces. The reorganization, he said, will enable rapid deployment of
US military personnel in Latin America to carry out punitive
military actions against any country opposing Washington's
hegemonic dictates and domination.
Souza pointed out that chief of the Southern Command, Gen. John
Galvin, recently declared that the US possesses forces capable of
arriving at any point on the continent in defense of US interests to
defend against dangers arising in "vital areas." The PPP leader
believes that Panama is the site of Washington's self-appointed role
as regional policeman. As an example, Souza mentioned the Southern
Command's assistance to the British in the conflict with Argentina
over the Malvinas (Falklands) islands.
PANAMANIANS PROTEST IMF AND WORLD BANK POLICIES
As reported by Cuban news PRENSA LATINA, on Sept. 11 thousands of
Panamanians demonstrated in the capital city to protest
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank economic policies.
The demonstration was organized by the National Council of
Organized Workers (CONATO), and was supported by workers,
students, and housewives, as well as a number of small business
owners. Protestors gathered in Porras square, and marched to the
national legislature building.
CONATO leaders claimed the IMF and the World Bank are pressuring
the government to make changes in national social security
legislation which would negatively affect the country's poor, as well
as elevating the retirement age to 65 years.
CONATO leader Eduardo Rio said Panamanian workers have already
lost numerous gains realized in past decades. Further sacrifices, he
said, are unacceptable.
Protestors also condemned the privatization of state companies, the
two percent reduction of the labor force in the public sector, and
inadequate economic assistance provided to peasant farmers.
REGIONAL SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL MEETING BEGINS IN PANAMA CITY;
60 SOCIAL DEMOCRAT PARTIES ATTEND
On Sept. 20 Carlos Ozores, general secretary of the Revolutionary
Democratic Party (PRD) confirmed that US violations of the
Torrijos-Carter Panama Canal treaties will be examined this week
in a regional meeting of the Socialist International.
Ozores said some 60 representatives of Latin American and European
Social Democratic parties will meet in Panama on Sept. 24-25 to
discuss current situations in Central America, Chile, and other
nations in Latin America.
The PRD leader told Cuban news agency PRENSA LATINA that
Panamanian delegates intend to include in the final declaration of
the SI meeting mention of US violations of the Canal treaties and his
government's hopes that the inter- oceanic waterway will be turned
over to Panama in the year 2000.
The regional meeting in Panama was arranged at the June Socialist
International congress in Peru, when the PRD was admitted as a
"consultative member" of the organization.
Ozores, a former foreign minister under the government of Aristides
Royos, expressed satisfaction with the response by members of the
Non-Aligned Movement at the recent NAM summit in Harare,
Zimbabwe, to his country's demands. He said Non-Aligned and
Socialist International support for Panamanian sovereignty over the
Canal is "bearing extremely positive fruit."
PANAMANIAN PLANNING AND ECONOMY MINISTER ISSUES CALL FOR REGIONAL UNITY
AT ANNUAL IMF-WORLD BANK JOINT MEETINGS
On Sept. 23 Panamanian Planning and Economy Minister Ricardo
Vasquez issued a call for a unified Latin American position at the
upcoming annual joint meetings of the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank. The meetings will commence late this
IMF and World Bank governors of Latin America, Spain and the
Philippines met in Panama City to prepare joint statements for
presentation at the joint IMF-World Bank annual meeting.
Vasquez told the assembled governors that Latin American nations
have already undergone great sacrifices, reflected in declining
economic activities and standards of living, the continued
deterioration of terms of trade, high unemployment and the
postponement of socio-economic development goals. He then
asserted that Latin American and other Third World nations must
present a unified front before the World Bank and the IMF in order to
persuade those organizations to contribute to the resolution of the
foreign debt problem via a refinancing policy, such as the
commercial banks have adopted.
The minister then issued a plea that small debtor nations receive
equal treatment vis-a-vis large debtors in terms of economic
adjustments imposed in return for financial resources.
The assembled representatives from Latin America selected the IMF
governor from Argentina and the World Bank governor from Ecuador
to speak on behalf of the region at the upcoming joint session.
SECRETARY OF STATE SHULTZ DISCUSSES CENTRAL AMERICAN PROBLEM WITH
PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT, COLOMBIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
Update September 26, 1986
On Sept. 23, Secretary of State George Shultz met with several
political leaders at the United Nations in New York, including
Panamanian President Eric Arturo del Valle and Colombian Foreign
Minister Londono, among others. Subsequent to the meeting, a senior
administration official told reporters that a major topic of
discussion was the improbability of progress in Contadora
negotiations as long as the Nicaraguan suit against Costa Rica and
Honduras is pending before the International Court of Justice at The
The official said he understood that both Costa Rica and Honduras
will not negotiate with the Nicaraguan government while the suit is
pending before the World Court.
Next, he said Shultz had complimented President Del Valle on his
accomplishments during the past year, stating that when nations
experience an unexpected change of government, there are times
when a vice president "demonstrates that he has the ability to pull
the country together and solve problems." Shultz reportedly cited the
examples of Brazilian President Sarney and former US President Truman.
The Panamanian chief of state informed Shultz on the economic
problems faced by his country, and asserted that many issues
regarding the Panama Canal must be discussed with the US
government. According to the official, a major topic was how the US
may be of assistance in improving the Panamanian economic
situation, particularly in terms of job creation. He said Shultz told
Del Valle that Washington was disposed to work with the
Panamanian government in efforts to increase the amount of foreign
Central America was also a major topic of discussion with both Del
Valle and the Colombian foreign minister. Shultz reportedly
reiterated the US position that "Nicaragua is the problem and its
increasingly totalitarian government not only represses the people
of Nicaragua, but is a threat to its neighbors." The Secretary also
noted that the general situation in Central America is improved.
There is even a "bottoming out" of the economic situation for many
countries, so that at least "some" economic growth may be expected
in the future. The official said that once again, the exception to
the general trend for improvement was Nicaragua, "which is more
and more isolated in the region and in Europe."
PANAMA CANAL ZONE: EXERCISES FOR EVACUATION OF DEAD AND WOUNDED
FROM CENTRAL AMERICA UNDERWAY
On Sept. 24, units of the US Southern Command based in the Panama
Canal Zone, commenced training exercises in the evacuation and
treatment of dead and wounded from Central America. According to
Cuban news agency PRENSA LATINA, the exercise began at noon. In
the training exercise, dead and wounded are routed to the US-
maintained Gorgas hospital in the Canal zone.
PANAMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS MEETING OF CONTADORA AND
SUPPORT GROUP PRESIDENTS POSSIBLE
At a Sept. 24 press conference in New York, Panamanian Foreign
Minister Jorge Abadia told reporters that presidents of Contadora
and Support Group countries may meet before the end of this week to
discuss the broad outlines of new efforts to revitalize the search
for a diplomatic solution to the Central American conflict. He
confirmed that foreign ministers of the eight nations continue to
discuss the economic, political and strategic conditions currently
prevailing in Central America.
The Contadora nations include Mexico, Panama, Venezuela and
Uruguay, while the Support Group consists of Peru, Brazil, Argentina
PANAMANIAN CONGRESSMAN DENOUNCES TRAINING OF NICARAGUAN CONTRAS
BY SOUTHERN COMMAND IN CANAL ZONE
According to Panamanian congressman Luis Navas, Nicaraguan
contras are being trained on the banks of the Panama Canal in Colon
province. In a Sept. 26 interview with Cuban news agency PRENSA
LATINA, Navas said, "We know the Southern Command is training
several counter-revolutionary contingents at Fort Sherman." The
congressman is a member of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary
Party (PRD) from Colon province.
Navas stated that the contras have been training for some three
months in jungle fighting, and in handling modern weapons supplied
by the US government. He added that the topography of Fort Sherman,
located at the Canal's Atlantic outlet, is similar to that of
Nicaragua's Atlantic coastal region.
According to the politician, residents of Colon province can
corroborate his statements. Residents have encountered contra
trainees near the Fort "many times and have even reprimanded them
for disrespecting local women."
Navas said the presence of Nicaraguan contras violates the Canal
treaties which specify that the Southern Command can train regular
forces of other nations, but not irregular troops engaged in
fighting against a nation with an internationally recognized
government and which maintains diplomatic relations with Panama.
PANAMANIAN CONGRESS REJECTS U.S. SENATE'S ORDER FOR CIA INVESTIGATION
OF DRUG TRAFFICKING BY LOCAL ARMED FORCES
In the early hours of Sept. 30, the Panamanian national legislative
assembly concluded a special session with the approval of a
resolution rejecting a decision by the US Senate that the CIA be
ordered to investigate drug trafficking within the Panamanian
Defense Forces (FDP).
The Senate decision was described as interference in the country's
domestic affairs, and an attempt to undermine the government's
decision to settle the Central American conflict via diplomacy.
Next, the congressional resolution called for repeal of US Law 96-
70, and full observance of Canal treaties by Washington.
PANAMANIAN JUDGE SAYS U.S. LAW 96-70 UNCONSTITUTIONAL; CRITICIZES SENATE
ATTEMPTS TO INTERVENE IN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS
On Sept. 30 former Panamanian Foreign Minister Oyden Ortega told
reporters that US law 96-70 is unconstitutional, and contradicts
provisions contained in the Torrijos-Carter Canal treaties. Law 96-
70 reportedly provides Washington with the privilege to unilaterally
interpret the spirit and letter of the Canal treaties signed by
Panama and the United States in September 1977.
Ortega, one of four Panamanians on the Canal Commission's
management group, and a prominent judge, affirmed that no
legislation by either nation involved (including US law 96-70) can
nullify the 1977 Canal treaties. Since the US legislation was passed
only days before Canal treaty provisions became effective, Law 96-
70 has been a major source of friction between the two nations,
particularly in issues concerned with joint administration of the
According to Ortega, the law is unconstitutional under US
legislation. If, he said, US congressional leaders insist
nevertheless on implementing 96-70, the Panamanian government
may request that it be declared unconstitutional on the basis of
Regarding a recent resolution by the US Senate ordering a CIA
investigation of possible drug trafficking activities by the
Panamanian armed forces, Ortega claimed that no foreign
congressional body can interfere in the internal affairs of another
state. He added that US politicians apparently have a "distorted"
understanding of international law as they go about establishing
commissions and demanding investigations in areas that are strictly
under the jurisdiction of international organizations.
U.S. FIRM ACCUSED OF VIOLATING PANAMA CANAL TREATIES BY IGNORING
LOCAL LABOR LEGISLATION
The US firm Air Defense Center Federal Credit was accused Oct. 7 of
ignoring Panamanian labor legislation, in violation of the Torrijos-
Carter Canal treaties. Antonio Reina, secretary general of Local 907
representing Panamanian workers in the Canal Zone, charged that
because the company chooses to follow US federal and state
legislation, local laws have not been observed.
Reina said the company, under contract with the US government, is
obligated to observe Panamanian law. He added that Foreign Minister
Jorge Abadia told the Local 907 leadership that a major objective of
the government is the defense of Panamanian interests vis-a-vis the
According to Reina, the firm owes Panamanian workers $55,752 for
unpaid holidays and vacations. These privileges are included in
In the face of continuing violations of the Canal treaty, the union
leader called on the Foreign Ministry, the Labor Ministry and the
Canal Joint Affairs Committee to intervene in the conflict affecting
Panamanian employees of the US company.
PANAMANIAN ATTORNEY SAYS LATIN AMERICAN NATIONS MUST COOPERATE IN
ANTI-DRUG TRAFFIC CAMPAIGN
In Oct. 8 statements at a conference on drug trafficking in Mexico
City, Panamanian attorney Carlos Augusto Villales said Latin
American nations must act in an independent manner in the fight
against drug trafficking, although cooperation among regional
governments is also essential to make headway.
Villales noted that the US government should find a way to resolve
the problem of domestic drug consumption, as it is clear that
without a lucrative US market, Latin American production would
Regarding regional cooperation, he said that legal mechanisms to
fight trafficking must be internationalized. To this end, the
creation of a Latin American data bank on anti- drug operations may
The Panamanian attorney stated that his government has developed
draft legislation applied to sanctions against all facets of drug
Villales and attorneys general from 13 countries were guests of the
Mexican government for the conference.
PANAMANIAN LEGISLATOR DELIVERS INDICTMENT AGAINST U.S. AMBASSADOR
During an address before the US Chamber of Commerce in Panama
City the past weekend, Panamanian legislator Rigoberto Paredes
accused US Ambassador Arthur Davis of flagrantly and directly
interfering in Panama's domestic affairs. He said Davis has made
little effort to even appear diplomatic in the language and style he
has used in threatening economic sanctions if the Panamanian
government refuses to accept Washington's policies.
Paredes pertains to the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).
He criticized the ambassador's crude tactics, adding that his
government is not "on her knees begging alms," but rather will
remain on "her feet with her head up," claiming what is rightfully
hers as a sovereign nation.
According to Paredes, Davis believes he has the right--in the name
of democracy--to "invade and violate our sovereign territory and
force us into a halter with a compass pointing to where our orders
Specifically, Davis was accused of seeking to "dictate guidelines
and impose criteria" on Panama's armed forces. This proves, said
Paredes, that the ambassador is ignorant of the role played by the
military in Panama's new democracy.
Next, the US ambassador's comments on the use of monies by the
Panama Canal Commission were regarded as insulting. Paredes said
Davis's reference to US Law 96-70 as harmless to Panamanian
interests was obviously erroneous. He also stated that the
ambassador continues insisting that the Canal Commission promotes
the increasing participation of Panamanians in canal administration,
while both the Panamanian Foreign Ministry and national congress
have produced evidence to the contrary.
Paredes closed his remarks by directing the following remark at
Davis: "The Canal is ours...its transfer to our control in the year
2000 is not going to depend on the marks you give us, as if
Panamanians were frightened school children, and you the teacher
with a big stick to punish us." (PRENSA LATINA, 10/28/86)
PANAMANIAN CABINET TO BE RESHUFFLED
Rumors of a cabinet reshuffling in Panama will apparently be
realized this weekend when President Eric Arturo del Valle appoints
replacements for three ministers who resigned on the evening of
According to an announcement released by the presidential office,
Housing Minister Roberto Velazquez, Public Works Minister Efrain
Zanetti and Health Minister Carlos de Sedas have resigned.
Unofficial reports in Panama City on Nov. 13 indicated that
Agricultural Development Minister Bruno Garisto, and several
directors of autonomous public agencies had also turned in their
PANAMANIAN ARMED FORCES CHIEF DECORATED BY PERUVIAN PRESIDENT
In a Dec. 18 ceremony in Lima, President Alan Garcia presented the
Peruvian army's highest distinction--the "Francisco Bolognesi"
medal--to Panamanian armed forces chief Gen. Manuel Antonio
Noriega. Noriega was visiting Lima on invitation by the Peruvian
army high command.
JOINT U.S.-PANAMANIAN MILITARY EXERCISES UNDERWAY
Joint U.S.-Panamanian military exercises with the aim of
"protecting the Panama Canal" in the event of attack were initiated
Jan. 12. The maneuvers, called "Candela 87" by the Panamanians and
"Kindle Liberty" by the Pentagon, began in Chiriqui province, some
500 km. west of the Canal and bordering on Costa Rica. The
maneuvers involve ground, naval and air forces.
Panama is contributing 1,894 troops, who are participating in
tactical operations and strategic exercises. The Pentagon is taking
part with 4,291 troops from the Canal-based Southern Command, and
other bases in the United States.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude on Feb. 15.
"Kindle Liberty" maneuvers began on the same day US presidential
envoy Philip Habib arrived in Panama to meet with Foreign Minister
Jorge Abadia. Details of Habib's agenda were not available. The
envoy's visit occurs four days after Contadora and Support Group
foreign ministers convened with the secretaries general of the
United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) in
Panama City. The foreign ministers and secretaries general plan to
meet with Central American leaders in respective capitals Jan. 16-20.
(PRENSA LATINA, 01/13/87)
PANAMA TO REQUEST NATIONS THROUGHOUT WORLD TO MEDIATE ALONGSIDE CONTADORA
IN CENTRAL AMERICAN PEACE PROCESS
According to Cuban news agency PRENSA LATINA (01/10/87), the
Panamanian government plans to propose that United Nations
member countries participate actively in Contadora and Support
Group peace negotiations to settle the Central American conflict.
A Panamanian diplomatic source said political negotiations should
not be limited to the eight Latin American nations involved in the
Contadora peace process. He added that participation of other
nations throughout the world would strengthen the mediating efforts
PANAMA: UNEMPLOYMENT DECLINES, EXPORTS INCREASE IN 1986
According to a statistical report released by the Panamanian Labor
and Social Welfare Ministry, the national unemployment rate dropped
1.6% in 1986. In 1985 84,600 persons were unemployed, equivalent
to 11.8% of the economically active population (EAP). Last year the
number of officially unemployed persons dropped to 73,000 or 10.2%
of the EAP.
The official report stated the drop in unemployment was an outcome
of economic policies implemented by the administration of
President Eric Arturo del Valle early last year. Employment growth
was especially marked in metropolitan areas.
Next, a Trade and Industry Ministry report claimed export growth
last year was substantial. Total exports rose by 25%, while sales of
non-traditional exports increased by 40%. Banana and oil exports
registered declines. (PANAPRESS, 01/21/87)
PANAMANIAN SUGAR MILLS CLOSED DOWN
As a result of low world market sugar prices, and reduced import
quotas to the US market, two of six Panamanian sugar mills have
been shut down, and sugar cane acreage has been cut back.
Two of the four remaining mills are state-owned, two are private.
As of Jan. 27, the sugar market crisis has resulted in the
elimination of 1,600 jobs in the state-run industry administered by
La Victoria Sugar Cane Corporation (CALV).
The possibility of converting sugar mill operations to the
production of fuel alcohol has been under examination. However,
government sources report that such conversion would require a $7
million investment, and thus is not possible in the immediate
future. (PRENSA LATINA, 01/27/87)
TRADE BETWEEN PANAMA & COSTA RICA TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED
Late last week trade between Panama and Costa Rica came to a
temporary halt in protest of San Jose's failure to fulfill the
"spirit and letter" of a bilateral trade agreement dating from March
1975. Apparently Costa Rican businesspersons initiated the trade
strike, and were supported by their Panamanian counterparts.
Among other things, the 1975 agreement authorizes citizens from
both countries to import products duty-free, provided they remain in
the other country 72 hours before returning home. In mid-December
San Jose suspended this part of the agreement.
On Jan. 23 Panamanian Trade and Industry Minister Jose Bernardo
Cardenas and Costa Rican counterpart Luis Diego Escalante signed an
agreement in Panama City which established a bilateral commission
with the aim of drafting development plans for the border region,
known as Canaos. The commission has 60 days to draft a set of
recommendations for bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade,
health, education and security. (PANAPRESS, 01/23/87)
COCAINE FOUND ON BOARD DUTCH SHIP BY PANAMANIAN NARCOTICS AGENTS
On Feb. 1 special narcotics agents of the Panamanian armed forces
discovered and seized a large quantity of cocaine aboard the Dutch
ship "Nedlloyd Linge." The drugs were found during a routine check
of the vessel when it docked at San Cristobal, north of the Panama
Canal zone on the Atlantic side.
According to PANAPRESS (02/01/87), some 40 kgs. of cocaine were
located in 120 boxes containing what appeared to be cans of
"palmito natural" (palmetto buds). The shipment originated in
Uruguay, bearing the Guayaki label.
Investigators' reports indicate that the palmito or cocaine cargo
was destined for Nicles Ltd., in the Colon free zone. The company is
run by Manuel Fernandez, Luis Carlos Cordova and Vicente Scott.
U.S.-PANAMANIAN JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES UNDERWAY NEAR COSTA RICAN BORDER
On Feb. 4 joint US-Panamanian military maneuvers--labeled "Candela
87" in Panama and "Kindle Liberty" by the Pentagon--began in the
southern province of Chiriqui, Panama. Officially, the exercises are
aimed at practice for defense of the Canal Zone, and will continue
until Feb. 25.
Most US troops involved in Kindle Liberty are stationed at the
Canal-based Southern Command. Also participating are members of
the Florida National Guard and three battalions of the Panamanian
According to SOUTHERN COMMAND NEWS, helicopters equipped with
mine-detecting equipment operated by a team from Norfolk,
Virginia, will also be used in the games.
The Kindle Liberty maneuvers are specified in the Torrijos-Carter
Canal agreements signed in 1977. This year's exercises are to
include a mock counter-attack against "guerrilla forces" from an
imaginary Central American country.
In the words of Army Major Kenneth Robert, the maneuvers are aimed
at "training US and Panamanian troops in sustained and prolonged
struggle against insurgent forces coming from a third country." He
added that this is the kind of war and enemy that Panama might face
in the future.
While Kindle Liberty is justified as a rehearsal to defend the
Panama Canal Zone in the event of an "enemy attack," it is curious
that this year's exercises are being staged 400 km. north of the
Canal Zone, or a few kilometers from the Costa Rican border.
Corporation and TransWorld Arms, Inc. Other names on the chart have
been identified earlier such as Lake Resources and Hyde Park Square
Corporation. North's diagrams contain the names and initials of
entities that have not been previously identified, including G & C
Foundation, International Youth Comm., Gulf Marketing Consultants,
from The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358
Source: NY OnLine BBS 718-852-2662