From The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358 CENTRAL AMERICA UPDATE Country Notes, Panama Copyrig

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From The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358 --------------------------------------- CENTRAL AMERICA UPDATE Country Notes, Panama Copyright 1990 Latin America Data Base Latin American Institute, University of New Mexico Project Director: Dr. Nelson Valdes Managing Editor: Dr. Barbara A. Kohl PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT ENDS HUNGER STRIKE On March 13, President Guillermo Endara ended the hunger strike initiated March 1 in an attempt to obtain US financial assistance. Endara said he ended the strike to protect his health. In an interview with AP on March 10, Endara said, "People cannot eat democracy." The US has turned over only $160 million of $400 million it withheld in back pay during the last two years before the December invasion. Unemployment, estimated at 20% prior to the invasion, is now over 30%. Endara said, "It is painful to see that for ridiculous and foolish reasons they are holding back money that belongs to Panama... "In order to survive, democracy must show that it is effective, that it can provide people food and justice. If it does not do that, it fails...I am still optimistic. I think our experiment will be successful, but I see signs of concern. There could be popular unrest, unless there are some quick solutions. The congressional delay of approval endangers our democracy." The $500 million aid package for Panama requested by President Bush has not yet been approved by Congress. The aid monies would be diverted from the Pentagon's budget. (Basic data from AP, 03/10/90, 03/13/90) POLICE & US TROOPS IMPLEMENT SWEEPS TO CONFISCATE WEAPONS On March 9 at dawn, police supported by US troops swept through three Panama City neighborhoods, confiscating firearms and drugs. Vice President Ricardo Arias Calderon, who is also the justice minister, said 333 people were arrested during the sweep, and that suspected drug dealers, illegal aliens and assorted criminals were taken to Federal Judicial Police headquarters, which was surrounded by US armored cars. US Southern Command spokesperson William Ormsbee said about 260 US soldiers were deployed "in support of the Panamanian police." About 400 Panamanian police participated in the operation. Arias said the troops cordoned off the neighborhoods of Curundu, Viejo Veranillo and Brooklincito near the Panama Canal with barbed wire barricades. Two hovering helicopters located people attempting to escape. Police and US soldiers in battle fatigues followed up, backed by armored personnel carriers, combed the area house to house, Arias said. He added that there were no casualties. According to a report by Prensa Latina, 736 persons were arrested. Interior Deputy Minister Ramon Lima, cited by Prensa Latina, confirmed the operation, and reported that two shotguns and a variety of handguns were confiscated. There was no mention of drug seizures. Vice President Arias Calderon announced that similar surprise operations are planned for other areas of the city. (Basic data from AP, 03/09/90; Prensa Latina, 03/10/90) MEXICO GRANTS ASYLUM TO FORMER PANAMANIAN OFFICIAL On March 3 in a communique, the Mexican Foreign Ministry announced that its embassy in Panama City had granted diplomatic asylum to Rafael Arosemena Alvarado, former general manager of Panama's National Bank. (Basic data from El Norte, Excelsior, 03/03/90) --------------------- Source: CARNet on PeaceNet

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