All Material Copyright by Latin America Data Base. Latin America Data Base News Items Peac

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

All Material Copyright by Latin America Data Base. Latin America Data Base News Items [PeaceNet] July 1987 PANAMA: NOTES ON CONTINUED POLITICAL TENSIONS, JULY 5-8 1987 July 5: Panamanian President Eric Arturo Delvalle ordered an investigation of a series of accusations against defense forces commander-in-chief Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. The accusations include electoral fraud, murder, and drug trafficking. Delvalle's move was immediately criticized by the political opposition because he did not appoint an independent prosecutor. July 7: President Eric Arturo Delvalle's spokesman announced late Tuesday over national television a decree prohibiting public demonstrations in public places. The decree specifically banned a pro-government anti-US demonstration scheduled for July 8 by the ruling party coalition, the National Democratic Union (UNADE), and a counter-rally organized by the opposition for July 10. The president said government authorities would adopt necessary measures to ensure that political rallies do not take place. The ban was not extended to political meetings indoors. Delvalle's statement said he feared violence could erupt during the rallies, which were shaping up as a popularity test for both sides. In a communique, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), which is aligned with the Defense Forces, agreed to suspend the rally and put its members on alert for a new call to action. In the hours before Delvalle's decree, pro-government civilian gunmen firing rifle rounds broke up an opposition car caravan on the Via Brazil, a main thoroughfare. July 8: Opposition protesters took to the streets in horn-tooting car caravans in defiance of the presidential decree. Meanwhile, in an unusual display of dissent within the government, Vice President Roderick Esquivel called on President Delvalle to form an independent commission to investigate public accusations raised against the top military commander, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. --Panama's special envoy to the US, Aquilino Boyd, who is seeking to counter criticism in Washington of Gen. Noriega, charged that the US Senate's calls for Noriega's ouster "have thrown a shower of acid rain that has poisoned the waters of friendship between our two nations." At a meeting with reporters, Boyd, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, attacked two recent Senate resolutions critical of Noriega and the 20,000-member Panamanian Defense Forces. Boyd said they were the work of Americans who want to prevent Panama from gaining control of the Panama Canal in 2000 and "bad Panamanians who believe that getting the blessing of American politicians" is the way to win the elections that are supposed to take place in Panama in 1989. Panama's ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roberto Leyton, who also took part in the meeting, said the administration is too much on the defensive in its Latin American policies to come to Panama's defense. He noted that the Iran- contra hearings have produced congressional calls for dismissal of Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state for inter- American affairs, for misleading Congress. "Do you think Mr. Abrams, in the position he is in right now, would dare to speak against the Senate?" Leyton asked. "The administration has been accused by the Senate. The administration won't sacrifice (its remaining influence) with the Senate to defend Panama." In a speech last week, Abrams sent an unmistakable signal of the administration's view that the growing tensions between those who are pro- and anti-Noriega within Panama underscore the need for the defense forces to drop Noriega and get out of politics. US officials said that in a July 6 meeting with Boyd, Abrams reaffirmed that position, although he still did not mention Noriega by name. In March the Senate charged that Panama was a major center for narcotics trafficking. On June 26, after three weeks of violent demonstrations triggered by charges that Noriega had been involved in electoral fraud and the murder of a political opponent, the Senate adopted a resolution calling on President Delvalle to suspend Noriega from his command pending impartial investigation of the charges. "This type of resolution is no way to treat a friend. As a proud nation, we are the one who should demand apologies and reparations," Boyd said. But he acknowledged that as a gesture toward easing tensions, he had apologized for damage done to the US Embassy in Panama last week by Noriega supporters. Boyd said the principal "bad Panamanian" was Gabriel Lewis, another former ambassador here, who fled Panama June 13 after trying unsuccessfully to mediate between Noriega and the opposition. Lewis' arguments that Noriega has lost the confidence of the Panamanian electorate and must go were an influential factor in passing the Senate resolution. (Various sources, PRENSA LATINA, WASHINGTON POST, NEW YORK TIMES) NOTES: PANAMANIAN POLITICAL CRISIS, JULY 9-14 1987 The political unrest in Panama erupted in early June after Panamanian Defense Forces Chief of Staff Col. Roberto Diaz Herrera was forced to resign by commander-in-chief Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. Diaz Herrera publicly accused Noriega, who in practice controls the government, of being involved in murders and rigging a 1984 election. Noriega is also suspected of running guns and drugs. A new round of pro- and anti-Noriega demonstrations came after a June 26 US Senate resolution calling on the general to step aside pending an independent investigation of Diaz Herrera's charges. President Eric Arturo Delvalle, warning of possible violence, had issued a decree July 7 banning a July 10 anti-government protest and another large demonstration planned by pro-government groups for July 9. The latter rally, expected to draw more than 100,000, was cancelled. The opposition National Civic Crusade, led by business and professional groups, rejected Delvalle's decree as unconstitutional. July 9: According to a report by the WASHINGTON POST (07/10/87), as of July 9 there was no sign of panic among the 120 foreign banks, with assets of nearly $39 billion, that make Panama the most important international banking center in Latin America. However, as the crisis entered its fifth week, bankers sent alarm signals to their home offices and the Panamanian government. Banks in Panama handle off-shore accounts for US companies, Latin funds and bank- to-bank transactions. The banking center flourished over the past decade because of strict secrecy laws and negligible taxes on deposits and income. US dollar bills are used as the local currency. An atmosphere of political calm compared to other nations in the region was also an important factor. All banks were closed June 11 and 12 during a nationwide business strike, mainly because employes did not appear for work. Some Latin American bankers based in Panama said the government threatened to cancel their visas if they did not reopen after those two days. As a result of many bank employes' active participation in the protests against Noriega, many banks were targeted by police and pro-government vandals. During the protests in mid-June, police stormed the offices of the Panamanian-owned Banco del Istmo, clubbing several employes. Last week pro-government squads broke the Bank of America's ground floor windows and tossed a Molotov cocktail into a second- floor office, although it did not ignite. They also splattered paint across Citibank's facade. Police arrested four Chase Manhattan employes and beat several others. One bank executive reported a string of withdrawals by nervous foreign firms totaling $10 million to $20 million. Panamanian depositors withdrew millions in cash from individual accounts in local banks. In June, fiscal authorities ordered several emergency shipments of dollar bills, worth $20 million, from commercial banks in the United States, a bank treasurer said. Bankers noted that since Panama has no local paper currency and, therefore, no central bank, a liquidity shortfall in a small bank can easily snowball. The sense of unease in the banking community was exacerbated by Luis Alberto Arias' abrupt resignation with no explanation July 3 from his post as director of Banco Nacional, the government bank. The move by Arias fueled speculation he had been pressed to overdraw funds for the government. Bankers monitoring the $3.8 billion foreign debt said the crisis has greatly complicated Panama's compliance this year with a World Bank austerity program in order to qualify for a $50 million bailout loan. Panama agreed in 1985 with the World Bank to reform its social security system, which was close to bankruptcy. In the past two years, Panama has met other World Bank and International Monetary Fund program requirements and has received loans totaling almost $200 million. Scheduled payments on the debt for 1987 total $420 million. There is widespread resistance to the social security reform, which would make many Panamanians work longer for smaller pensions. July 10: At midnight President Eric Arturo Delvalle met with his cabinet, reiterating an earlier official decree banning public demonstrations by both anti- and pro-government forces. Instructions were issued to the Panamanian Defense Forces "to take measures" toward assuring that the decree would be observed. In an effort to reduce the possibility of violent confrontations, the government closed schools in the capital, nearby urban areas (Colon, La Chorrera and San Miguelito), and the western city of La Cabecera, Chiriqui province; closed government offices; and, secured an agreement by the National Banking Commission that banks would not open their doors before 11 a.m. --Riot police firing buckshot and tear gas prevented anti-government protesters in Panama City from holding a planned nonviolent demonstration that had been expected to draw tens of thousands. White-clad demonstrators, most of them of middle-class background, waved white handkerchiefs as they paraded down streets in the central financial district, but police drove them back as they tried to march toward the rally site. While seven military helicopters buzzed overhead throughout the afternoon, the blasts of shotguns and grenade launchers resounded continuously for several hours. Clouds of smoke obscured the sky in various locations, result of demonstrators' attempts to construct street barricades by burning tires and trash. According to first reports, at least a dozen protesters and one policeman were injured and police made several dozens of arrests. In contrast to the disturbances in June, opposition mobs did not throw rocks, and the riot police--known as Dobermans--did not freely use clubs and rifles. The Crusade called for marchers to converge from five outlying assembly points toward the financial district's Del Carmen Roman Catholic church. Fully armed regular combat troops stationed at two of the meeting points, El Dorado and Betania, searched and arrested anyone honking a car horn or waving a white handkerchief, the hallmark Crusade signals. Archbishop Marcos Gregorio McGrath, in remarks to the press before the march began, said he met for several hours on the evening of July 9 with Delvalle, the Cabinet, US Ambassador Arthur Davis and other Panamanian officials in a high-tension debate about the march. Government officials objected strongly, the Roman Catholic Church leader said, because their own rally had been cancelled. --An employee of the Nicaraguan Embassy told the Associated Press that in the early morning hours, unknown persons threw a home-made bomb into the patio of the embassy. No damages or injuries were reported. --Parties pertaining to the opposition Democratic Alliance (ADO), led by the Christian Democrat Party of Ricardo Arias Calderon, and the Authentic Panamanian Party of former president Arnulfo Arias Madrid, called for the formation of a new government. --According to a report by daily newspaper LA CRITICA, at dawn police seized two pickup trucks loaded with grenades and other weapons. Quoting reliable sources, the newspaper said the police had also arrested five men of Cuban origin who had entered the country illegally. The five reportedly confessed to "links" with opposition legislator, Omayra (Mayin) Correa, and were hired as agents provocateur. Their objective was allegedly to foment a political crisis producing the ouster of the current government. State-owned RADIO NACIONAL confirmed that late on July 9, three light pickup trucks were "sighted, containing grenades and high-powered weapons." The radio station also reported the illegal entry of the five foreigners. --About a dozen anti-government demonstrators broke into and looted the Bertucci store, owned by the wife of legislator Alfredo Oranges, who represents the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the Panamanian Defense Forces' political front. Oranges acknowledged that although Guillermo Cochez, an opposition Christian Democrat, was not at the store when the attack occurred, he charged Cochez with inciting opposition sympathizers to disobey the law. Oranges estimated damages at his wife's store at $100,000, including $35,000 in stolen jewels. Witness to the incident, retired schoolteacher Julia Amador, said she did not see demonstrators leaving the store carrying stolen goods. --A spokesman for Gen. Noriega said the military chieftain is seeking to postpone his retirement to complete 30 years of service instead of the regulation 25. Technically Noriega was due to retire in May. July 11: Reacting to the ransacking of his family's jewelry store during an anti-government protest, PRD legislator Alfred Oranges said he will file criminal charges against opposition leader Guillermo Cochez for instigating the attack. Panamanians on both sides of the dispute have apparently been shocked by incidents of property damage and violence during the past month. An instance here was the burning and looting of a luxury department store on July 2 belonging to an opposition newspaper publisher. --The government released all 10 US citizens arrested in roundups the previous day by police. In addition, 133 Panamanians detained at the Modelo prison were released from a total of about 300 arrested during Friday's turmoil. A US military spokesman said one US airman and three other US citizens with ties to the Southern Command and the Panama Canal Commission were among those detained. He said two of the men, apparently civilian US Army employes, were spotted by Panamanian police while tearing down a "Yankee Go Home!" poster. July 12: 145 Panamanians remained in jail after being detained in the July 10 disturbances, and several opposition leaders were in hiding. Among the prisoners were 15 singled out as "rabiblancos" (white tails), a slang term for affluent Panamanians, according to a pro-government newspaper account. --At least 75 Panamanians were treated in hospitals during the weekend for buckshot and beating injuries sustained on Friday, medical authorities said. --Several leaders of the opposition National Civic Crusade were in hiding because Alfredo Oranges, a top PRD legislator, said he was filing criminal charges against them after his family's jewelry store was attacked during the frustrated demonstrations. Oranges blamed the crime on Guillermo Cochez, and three Crusade leaders, Aurelio Barria, Cesar Tribaldos and Eduardo Vallarino. Tribaldos and Vallarino learned July 11 that police had orders to arrest them and sought refuge away from their homes, relatives said. Cochez remained in public and accused the government of sponsoring the recent violence. July 13: On Monday evening, members of the government's Executive Council--consisting of cabinet ministers and staff, the Defense Forces commander-in-chief, and representatives of provincial governments--met with President Eric Arturo Delvalle to assess the current political situation. According to a statement released by the presidential press secretary, the council "voiced its confidence" that the government is exerting adequate control over the situation. The communique mentioned that council members agreed to step up social programs, such as education, health and housing projects, particularly those oriented to the poor. Next, the Council reportedly examined the maintenance of selected measures to reduce political tensions, including the suspension of public demonstrations in effect since July 7. July 14: The National Civic Crusade called on Panamanians to participate in another anti-government demonstration to take place after 4 p.m. local time, in defiance of the government ban on all public rallies. The Crusade's decision was announced by opposition daily newspaper LA PRENSA. --Participants in the Crusade, the Association of Physicians and Odontologists within the government's social security system, called a 24-hour strike for July 15. The strike was to protest the decision by the Panamanian Defense Forces to prevent the anti- government/Noriega demonstration last Friday. (Various reports, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS, PRENSA LATINA, WASHINGTON POST) PANAMA: NOTES ON RECENT EVENTS IN ONGOING POLITICAL CRISIS July 12: The Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Trade has been at the center of the anti-Noriega protests. To the present, most Panamanians who came to its meetings were white. In a television interview Noriega called the opposition "racist" and dismissed the protests as the work of about 5,000 members of the largely light- skinned upper class. July 13: The pro-government newspaper LA CRITICA, reproduced a document signed by over 400 businesspersons advocating the creation of a new "non-political" Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry, as the best defense of the free enterprise system. According to the document, the signatories' position is based on fears that the political activism demonstrated by current leaders of the Chamber will lead to significant business losses, and affect the good relations the Panamanian business sector has "always maintained with all governments." Alongwith other business associations, the Chamber's current leadership played a leading role in the formation of the National Civic Crusade which has organized anti-government demonstrations since early June. July 14: Judicial authorities told the relatives of dozens of Panamanians detained during anti-government protests July 10 that the detainees have been sentenced to as much as 18 months in prison. To the present, during five weeks of protests thousands who were arrested were released after a few hours. Prolonged detentions and stiff sentences appear to be new tactics adopted by the Panamanian Defense Forces to quell discontent over commander-in- chief Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. There also have been allegations by some former prisoners of beatings in jail. Ignacio Garcia, 37, a mill chief at a General Mills flour plant in Panama City, was picked up as he emerged from a bar wearing a white factory uniform, his sister Graciela said. White handkerchiefs are the emblem of the opposition National Civic Crusade. Anyone wearing white last Friday ran the risk of arrest. A judge told Graciela Garcia on the evening of July 13 that her brother was sentenced to a year in jail for sedition and vandalism. One of those released July 14 was student Jose Benjamin de Gracia, 19, who was arrested July 10. He said he was taken to three Defense Forces garrisons Friday afternoon, where he said he was repeatedly kicked and punched and fondled in his genital area. One uniformed soldier who discovered de Gracia had twisted an ankle during his arrest kicked him in the ankle, he said. He said prison guards forced de Gracia to watch as they stripped another prisoner naked, put their boots on the man's neck and beat him with rubber hoses. Police found a white handkerchief in de Gracia's pocket and told him it constituted evidence against him, he said. Leida Ortaz, 31, six months pregnant, said her husband, factory worker Carlos Castillo, 31, went out Friday to buy medicine. Police fired on him and beat him with rubber truncheons, she said. When Ortaz came out to help her husband, she was beaten on the legs and back, she said. Ortaz said she took her husband to the emergency room of a public hospital and then went to the maternity ward for treatment for stomach pains. By the time she returned to the emergency room, police had taken her husband to prison, she said. He has not been sentenced, she said. --According to Chamber of Commerce vice president Raul Mendez, the chamber received 221 complaints from relatives of detainees between Sunday and noon July 14. Some of those may have been released in recent hours, he said. On July 13 the Chamber presented 85 writs of habeus corpus to the Supreme Court. --Defense Forces spokesman Maj. Edgardo Lopez said 136 prisoners were freed over the weekend. At least 39 more, mostly students, were freed at noon July 14 from the Modelo prison, where most are being held, some of the released prisoners said. --US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs William Walker arrived for two days of meetings with Panamanian leaders. July 15: Anti-government protesters said that their movement may have been temporarily set back by abusive treatment in jail of demonstrators. --The US State Department and both Houses of Congress have criticized Noriega's rule recently, but there appears to be concern in the Pentagon about the direction Panama could take if Noriega is forced to leave power. There are nearly 10,000 US troops based in the Canal Zone, and many sensitive intelligence operations are directed from American bases along the Panama Canal. "The American military people say that the most organized group in Panama is the defense forces," said a businessman who is in regular contact with senior US officers. "Their position is that Noriega is all they've got. They don't want to go through a period of change that could be painful, embarrassing and threatening." --In response to a request by members of the Catholic Church hierarchy, the National Civic Crusade suspended an anti- government demonstration scheduled for July 16. Statements by opposition leaders, supported by politicians belonging to the Opposition Democratic Alliance (ADO) made it clear, however, that the decision was only a postponement. The Crusade urged Panamanians to continue civic disobedience actions initiated on June 10, i.e., banging pots and blowing car horns and midday and 6 pm, and to prepare themselves for a "major total strike." The Crusade also called on Panamanians to delay tax payments, and to congregate on the streets after completing the workday. On July 14, large numbers of people gathered on the streets after work hours waving white handkerchiefs in several areas of Panama City, including the financial district. --Waving white handkerchiefs in groups on the street, pot banging and horn blowing as expressions of protest against the government have been undertaken largely by middle-class citizens. These actions have not been widespread in low-income neighborhoods and suburbs in the capital and other cities and towns. (Various reports, PRENSA LATINA, AP, WASHINGTON POST, NEW YORK TIMES) PANAMA: SUMMARY OF RECENT EVENTS IN ONGOING POLITICAL CRISIS July 20: The anti-government National Civic Crusade--made up of business, professional, teacher, physician, student and civic groups--issued a communique demanding that the government dismiss all persons implicated in the 1984 electoral fraud by former Panamanian Defense Forces chief of staff, Col. Roberto Diaz Herrera. The Crusade also called on the business community and workers to participate in another 48-hour general strike to protest the government's refusal to prosecute military officers and others accused of electoral fraud and corruption. July 21: Students of the University of Panama clashed with riot police in a demonstration protesting alleged human rights violations suffered by persons detained in recent street disturbances. Riot police deployed in locales surrounding the university campus in Pamana City threw tear gas canister and fired buckshot at the students. According to witnesses, some 600 students sought refuge on campus grounds from where they threw rocks at the police. The university rector requested that the police withdraw from the area. Police spokespersons responded by saying they would not withdraw until the students left the campus and gave up the street demonstration. The students refused, and the confrontation continued for several hours. Witnesses said five automobiles were damaged by rocks and several students sustained injuries from flying buckshot. The anti- government National Civic Crusade--made up of business, professional, teacher, physician, student and civic groups-- condemned the police repression. For its part, the National Council of Organized Workers (CONATO), the country's largest labor organization, said in a communique that the need for dialogue was urgent. The communique said, "The working class believes in a peaceful solution to the present crisis, since further violence would be suicide for our country, and the working people would ultimately pay the price." CONATO said it would not support the Crusade's recent call for another 48-hour business strike. --The Coordinating Body of Popular Organizations (COPP) also refused to support the Crusade's call for a general strike. Hector Aleman, COPP leader and chairman of the Public Servants and Employees Federation (FENASEP), announced a plan of action with the aim of presenting the workers' demands to the authorities. Among possible actions are demonstrations in front of government buildings, the Chamber of Trade, Industry and Commerce, and the US Embassy. Aleman said COPP members are determined to present concrete demands to further their historical position which has deteriorated in recent years. The Crusade and opposition parties, he added, are more interested in gaining US support for changes in government than in the living and working conditions of the majority of Panamanians. CONATO coordinator Alvaro Munoz said the major leaders of the Crusade are the same business owners who deny wage and working condition improvements to their employees, order mass layoffs, and reject any measure which favors the majority of Panamanians. Both Munoz and Aleman stated that they do not support solutions to the current political crisis which do not derive in part from consideration of workers' interests. They pointed out that to the present, President Eric Arturo Delvalle's government has not invited them to participate in its proposed national dialogue. -- About 200 attorneys met with Crusade leaders to elaborate criminal charges against the Panamanian authorities for human rights violations. --According to an editorial broadcast in the evening by government station, RADIO NACIONAL, the opposition has had six weeks--"time enough"--to produce evidence supporting the charges presented against government officials. (AP, PRENSA LATINA, 07/20/87, 07/21/87) PANAMANIAN POLITICAL CRISIS: SUMMARY OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS July 23: Panamanian authorities have not yet publicly reacted to reports of a cutoff in US economic and military aid following the June 30 attack on the US Embassy. When asked if such reports were accurate, presidential spokesman Jose Hernandez said he knew nothing about it. Commander-in-chief of the Panamanian Defense Forces, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, after a meeting with labor leaders, declined to respond to questions about the suspension of military aid. The Panamanian Foreign Ministry has not responded to reports of the aid suspension, although the ministry recently indicated that the government will pay damages to the US embassy, estimated at over $100,000. --Romulo Betancur, president of the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), said in an interview with the press that "we are confronting a situation of destabilization that has been coming since we approved the 1977 Panama Canal treaties, signed by former President Jimmy Carter and the late Gen. Omar Torrijos." He claimed that the US has been involved in destabilizing Panama since 1981 when Torrijos died in an air accident, and that at present Washington is imposing increasing pressure because in 1990 the top administrative position on the Panama Canal Commission must go to a Panamanian. The US government, he said, intends to install a docile government in Panama to assure acceptance of its decisions in 1990 and beyond. Betancur claimed that while the pressure exerted on Panama City is the strongest thus far since Torrijos' death, the pressure will escalate even further during the remainder of the 1980s. --Kathleen Barmon, of the US State Department's Office of Human Rights, met with leaders of the National Civic Crusade, and with citizens who have declared their human rights were violated while being detained at the Modelo prison in recent disturbances. --University students threw rocks at riot police in streets adjacent to the University of Panama campus while attempting to set up barricades in the streets. The police dispersed the students who sought refuge inside the campus. --Hector Aleman, leader of the Coordinator of Panamanian Popular Organizations (COPP), told Cuban news agency PRENSA LATINA that the principal "external" causes of the present crisis derive from Washington's interest in ensuring its continued presence in Panama, including the continuity of strategic military installations after the year 2000, and US Central America policy. Panama, he said, is a member of the Contadora Group. Washington, according to Aleman, would like to see Contadora disbanded, or at least wholly discredited. Panama, he added, would appear to be the easiest target in the Reagan administration's campaign to discredit Contadora. Regarding domestic causes of the crisis, Aleman cited the acceleration of a process to destroy "Torrijismo," or a nationalist political movement that emerged after Torrijos' death in 1981. The labor leader said political structures to sustain participation of the majority of people in national political and social life-- established by Torrijos and his followers and then continued after the general's death--have been undermined. Aleman announced that the COPP plans to launch a series of public protests to demand participation in the process to define a solution to the political crisis. Next, he said implementation of economic policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said, have sparked dissatisfaction because living standards for the majority of Panamanians are on the decline. Aleman pointed out that more than 150,000 Panamanians are un- or underemployed, the nation faces a housing shortage, and prices for subsistence goods are continually rising. According to statistics elaborated by COPP, the cost of living has doubled in the past five years. Prices for subsistence products, such as rice, beans, and beef, have increased by over 50% since January. The government has reported that inflation since the beginning of the year is virtually zero. The US has allies in Panama, said Aleman, largely among the "national oligarchy," who are interested in maintaining their positions of privilege. The US administration, he said, has committed itself to turn the Canal over to Panama on December 31, 1999. However, "Washington wishes to maintain its military bases here, and is seeking a mechanism--a docile government--that would permit a long-term presence in Panama. The reasons for this are US strategic, political and military interests in Central America." Aleman said the Panamanian Defense Forces have become the principal targets of US attacks, because of the military's nationalism and its support for peaceful dialogue as the means to resolve the Central American conflict. Aleman chairs the National Federation of Public Servants and Employes (FENASEP). (AP, PRENSA LATINA, 07/23/87) ============================================= from The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358 Source: NY OnLine BBS 718-852-2662

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank