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All Material Copyright by Latin America Data Base. Latin America Data Base News Items [PeaceNet] June 1986 -- February 1987 June 1986 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 bloodshed. 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. July 1986 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 of profits. 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 Panamanian authorities. 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. August 1986 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 military coup. 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 world." Montenegro noted that China has historically supported Panamanian aspirations for independence, as clearly stated in UN Security Council meetings. 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 bonuses. 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." September 1986 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- interference." 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 week. 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 Hague. 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 investment. 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 and Uruguay. 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 waterway. 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 Panamanian law. 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. October 1986 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 US authorities. According to Reina, the firm owes Panamanian workers $55,752 for unpaid holidays and vacations. These privileges are included in local legislation. 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 cease. 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 be necessary. The Panamanian attorney stated that his government has developed draft legislation applied to sanctions against all facets of drug trafficking. 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 originate." 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) November 1986 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 Nov. 12. 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 resignations. December 1986 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. January 1987 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 of Contadora. 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) February 1987 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 armed forces. 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, and Toyco. ============================================= from The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358 Source: NY OnLine BBS 718-852-2662

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