US embassy cable - 89STATE404719

U.S. PRESENTS ITS CASE ON PANAMA TO THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

Identifier: 89STATE404719
Wikileaks: View 89STATE404719 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1989-12-21 02:50:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PREL PHUM PGOV US XM PM OAS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 210250Z DEC 89
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL AMERICAN REPUBLIC DIPLOMATIC POSTS IMMEDIATE
INFO ALL OECD CAPITALS IMMEDIATE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 404719 
 
E.O. 12356: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV US XM PM OAS 
SUBJECT: U.S. PRESENTS ITS CASE ON PANAMA TO THE ORGANIZATION OF 
AMERICAN STATES 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF 
AMERICAN STATES (OAS) MET IN SPECIAL SESSION DECEMBER 20, 
AT THE REQUEST OF NORIEGA'S OAS AMBASSADOR.  (CONTRARY TO 
THE IMPRESSION CONVEYED BY MEDIA ACCOUNTS, THERE WAS NO 
VOTE ACCEPTING CREDENTIALS OF THE NORIEGA REPRESENTATIVE, 
WHO HAS BEEN ACCREDITED AT THE OAS SINCE JUNE.  THE NEW 
ENDARA APPOINTEE HAS NOT YET BEEN ABLE TO PRESENT HIS 
CREDENTIALS.)  THE SESSION CONVENED AT MID-DAY, LATER 
ADJOURNED TO 6:00 P.M., AND IS STILL IN SESSION AS THIS 
CABLE IS BEING TRANSMITTED.  A HOSTILE RESOLUTION 
CONDEMNING U.S. ACTION IN PANAMA, INTRODUCED BY NICARAGUA, 
HAS NOT YET BEEN CONSIDERED.  THE COLOMBIAN OAS AMBASSADOR 
ANNOUNCED THAT COLOMBIAN FONMIN LONDONO IS CONSULTING WITH 
OTHERS REGARDING A POSSIBLE RECONVENING OF THE 2LST 
MEETING OF CONSULTATION OF OAS FOREIGN MINISTERS (MFM), 
POSSIBLY AS EARLY AS FRIDAY DECEMBER 22.  (THIS MFM WAS 
FORMED IN MAY TO CONSIDER THE PANAMANIAN CRISIS IN ITS 
INTERNATIONAL ASPECTS, FOLLOWING ANNULMENT OF THE MAY 7 
ELECTIONS, AND MET FOUR TIMES THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER IN AN 
EFFORT TO PROMOTE A DEMOCRATIC TRANSFER OF POWER IN PANAMA 
BY THE CONSTITUTIONALLY-MANDATED DATE OF SEPTEMBER 1.) 
SEPTEL WILL PROVIDE FULL ACCOUNT OF TODAY'S OAS MEETING. 
THIS CABLE PROVIDES FOR POSTS' INFORMATION AND 
DISTRIBUTION AS APPROPRIATE THE TEXT OF THE U.S. STATEMENT 
AS DELIVERED BY U.S. OAS PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE 
AMBASSADOR LUIGI EINAUDI.  END SUMMARY. 

2.  BEGIN TEXT: 

MR. CHAIRMAN: 

 I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN WITH A PROCEDURAL POINT.  THE U.S. 
IS VERY PLEASED THAT THE OUTLAW REGIME OF NORIEGA HAS 
GIVEN WAY TO A GOVERNMENT THAT REFLECTS THE WILL OF THE 
PANAMANIAN PEOPLE. 

 I THINK WE ARE ALL AWARE THAT THERE IS A RAPIDLY CHANGING 
AND VERY COMPLEX SITUATION IN PANAMA.  THE ORIGIN AND 
NATURE OF THIS CRISIS NEED TO BE EXPLORED.  IN THE VIEW OF 
MY GOVERNMENT, THE LEGITIMATE REPRESENTATIVE OF PANAMA IS 
NOT PRESENT HERE IN THIS MEETING. 

 THE PRESIDENT THIS MORNING DIRECTED UNITED STATES 
MILITARY FORCES TO EXECUTE AT 1:00 AM THIS MORNING 
MISSIONS IN PANAMA DESIGNED TO PROTECT AMERICAN LIVES AND 
TO DEFEND THE INTEGRITY OF THE PANAMA CANAL TREATIES.  IN 
ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CHARTER OF THIS 
ORGANIZATION, AND OF ARTICLES 51 AND 52 OF THE CHARTER OF 
THE UNITED NATIONS, I HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO BRIEF YOU ON 
THIS ACTION OF THE UNITED STATES. 

 UNITED STATES FORCES HAVE EXERCISED THEIR INHERENT RIGHT 
OF SELF-DEFENSE UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW BY TAKING ACTION 
IN PANAMA IN RESPONSE TO ARMED ATTACKS BY FORCES UNDER THE 
DIRECTION OF MANUEL NORIEGA. 

 THE SITUATION IN PANAMA UNDER NORIEGA HAD BECOME 
UNSUSTAINABLE.  35,000 CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES LIVE 
IN PANAMA.  THEIR LIVES WERE SERIOUSLY ENDANGERED.  THE 
INTEGRITY OF THE PANAMA CANAL TREATIES WAS AT RISK AS THE 
RESULT OF THE PRESSURES, ABUSES, AND -- YES -- FORCE OF A 
MAN WHO IS UNDER INDICTMENT FOR DRUG-RELATED CHARGES.  THE 
PRESIDENT MADE EVERY EFFORT TO RESOLVE THE SITUATION 
PEACEFULLY THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE 
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES AND LATIN AMERICAN 
LEADERS.  MR. NORIEGA REJECTED ALL THESE EFFORTS. 

 I AM CERTAIN THAT MANY OF YOU HEARD PRESIDENT BUSH AT 
7:20 AM THIS MORNING.  I ASK YOUR INDULGENCE: 

 BEGIN QUOTE: 

 MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LAST NIGHT I ORDERED U.S. MILITARY 
FORCES TO PANAMA.  NO PRESIDENT TAKES SUCH ACTION 
LIGHTLY.  THIS MORNING, I WANT TO TELL YOU WHAT I DID AND 
WHY I DID IT. 

 FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, THE UNITED STATES, NATIONS OF LATIN 
AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN HAVE WORKED TOGETHER TO RESOLVE 
THE CRISIS IN PANAMA.  THE GOALS OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE 
BEEN TO SAFEGUARD THE LIVES OF AMERICANS, TO DEFEND 
DEMOCRACY IN PANAMA, TO COMBAT DRUG TRAFFICKING AND TO 
PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE PANAMA CANAL TREATY.  MANY 
ATTEMPTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO RESOLVE THIS CRISIS THROUGH 
DIPLOMACY AND NEGOTIATIONS.  ALL WERE REJECTED BY THE 
DICTATOR OF PANAMA, GENERAL MANUEL NORIEGA, AN INDICTED 
DRUG TRAFFICKER. 

 LAST FRIDAY, NORIEGA DECLARED HIS MILITARY DICTATORSHIP 
TO BE IN A STATE OF WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES AND 
PUBLICLY THREATENED THE LIVES OF AMERICANS IN PANAMA.  THE 
VERY NEXT DAY, FORCES UNDER HIS COMMAND SHOT AND KILLED AN 
UNARMED AMERICAN SERVICEMAN, WOUNDED ANOTHER, ARRESTED AND 
BRUTALLY BEAT A THIRD AMERICAN SERVICEMAN, AND THEN 
BRUTALLY INTERROGATED HIS WIFE, THREATENED HER WITH SEXUAL 
ABUSE. 

 THAT WAS ENOUGH. 

 GENERAL NORIEGA'S RECKLESS THREATS AND ATTACKS UPON 
AMERICANS IN PANAMA CREATED AN IMMINENT DANGER TO THE 
35,000 AMERICAN CITIZENS IN PANAMA.  AS PRESIDENT, I HAVE 
NO HIGHER OBLIGATION THAN TO SAFEGUARD THE LIVES OF 
AMERICAN CITIZENS.  AND THAT IS WHY I DIRECTED OUR ARMED 
FORCES TO PROTECT THE LIVES OF AMERICAN CITIZENS IN PANAMA 
AND TO BRING GENERAL NORIEGA TO JUSTICE IN THE UNITED 
STATES.  I CONTACTED THE BIPARTISAN LEADERSHIP OF CONGRESS 
LAST NIGHT AND INFORMED THEM OF THIS DECISION, AND AFTER 
TAKING THIS ACTION, I ALSO TALKED WITH LEADERS IN LATIN 
AMERICA, THE CARIBBEAN, AND THOSE OF OTHER U.S. ALLIES. 

 AT THIS MOMENT, U.S. FORCES, INCLUDING FORCES DEPLOYED 
FROM THE UNITED STATES LAST NIGHT, ARE ENGAGED IN ACTION 
IN PANAMA.  THE UNITED STATES INTENDS TO WITHDRAW THE 
FORCES NEWLY DEPLOYED TO PANAMA AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 
OUR FORCES HAVE CONDUCTED THEMSELVES COURAGEOUSLY AND 
SELFLESSLY.  AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, I SALUTE EVERY ONE OF 
THEM AND THANK THEM ON BEHALF OF OUR COUNTRY. 

 TRAGICALLY, SOME AMERICANS HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES ALREADY 
IN DEFENSE OF THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS, IN DEFENSE OF 
DEMOCRACY.  MY HEART GOES OUT TO THEIR FAMILIES.  WE ALSO 
REGRET AND MOURN THE LOSS OF INNOCENT PANAMANIANS. 

 THE BRAVE PANAMANIANS ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE IN THE 
ELECTIONS HELD LAST MAY -- PRESIDENT GUILLERMO ENDARA AND 
VICE PRESIDENTS CALDERON AND FORD -- HAVE ASSUMED THE 
RIGHTFUL LEADERSHIP OF THEIR COUNTRY.  YOU REMEMBER THOSE 
HORRIBLE PICTURES OF NEWLY-ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT FORD, 
COVERED HEAD TO TOE WITH BLOOD, BEATEN MERCILESSLY BY 
SO-CALLED "DIGNITY BATALLIONS."  WELL, THE UNITED STATES 
TODAY RECOGNIZES THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF 
PRESIDENT ENDARA.  I WILL SEND OUR AMBASSADOR BACK TO 
PANAMA IMMEDIATELY. 

 KEY MILITARY OBJECTIVES HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED.  MOST 
ORGANIZED RESISTANCE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.  BUT THE 
OPERATION IS NOT OVER YET.  GENERAL NORIEGA IS IN HIDING. 
AND NEVERTHELESS, YESTERDAY, A DICTATOR RULED PANAMA; AND 
TODAY, CONSTITUTIONALLY ELECTED LEADERS GOVERN. 

 I HAVE TODAY DIRECTED THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY AND 
THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO LIFT THE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS WITH 
RESPECT TO THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF 
PANAMA, AND IN COOPERATION WITH THAT GOVERNMENT, TO TAKE 
STEPS TO EFFECT AN ORDERLY UNBLOCKING OF PANAMANIAN 
GOVERNMENT ASSETS IN THE UNITED STATES.  I AM FULLY 
COMMITTED TO IMPLEMENT THE PANAMA CANAL TREATIES AND TO 
TURN OVER THE CANAL TO PANAMA IN THE YEAR 2000. 

 THE ACTIONS WE HAVE TAKEN AND THE COOPERATION OF A NEW 
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN PANAMA WILL PERMIT US TO HONOR 
THESE COMMITMENTS.  AS SOON AS THE NEW GOVERNMENT 
RECOMMENDS A QUALIFIED PANAMANIAN CANDIDATE TO BE 
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE CANAL AS CALLED FOR IN THE TREATIES, 
I WILL SUBMIT THIS NOMINEE TO THE SENATE FOR EXPEDITED 
CONSIDERATION. 

 I AM COMMITTED TO STRENGTHENING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE 
DEMOCRATIC NATIONS OF THIS HEMISPHERE.  I WILL CONTINUE TO 
SEEK SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS OF THIS REGION THROUGH 
DIALOGUE AND MULTILATERAL DIPLOMACY. 

 I TOOK THIS ACTION ONLY AFTER REACHING THE CONCLUSION 
THAT EVERY OTHER AVENUE WAS CLOSED AND THE LIVES OF 
AMERICAN CITIZENS WERE IN GRAVE DANGER.  I HOPE THAT THE 
PEOPLE OF PANAMA WILL PUT THIS DARK CHAPTER OF 
DICTATORSHIP BEHIND THEM AND MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER AS 
CITIZENS OF A DEMOCRATIC PANAMA WITH THIS GOVERNMENT THAT 
THEY, THEMSELVES, HAVE ELECTED. 

 THE UNITED STATES IS EAGER TO WORK WITH THE PANAMANIAN 
PEOPLE IN PARTNERSHIP AND FRIENDSHIP TO REBUILD THEIR 
ECONOMY.  THE PANAMANIAN PEOPLE WANT DEMOCRACY, PEACE, AND 
THE CHANCE FOR A BETTER LIFE IN DIGNITY AND FREEDOM.  THE 
PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES SEEK ONLY TO SUPPORT THEM IN 
PURSUIT OF THESE NOBLE GOALS. 

 END QUOTE. 

MR. CHAIRMAN: 

 PRESIDENT BUSH TOOK THIS ACTION ONLY AFTER EXHAUSTING 
EVERY AVAILABLE DIPLOMATIC AND MULTILATERAL MEANS TO 
RESOLVE THIS CRISIS.  FROM THE MOMENT NORIEGA HAD BRUTALLY 
ANNULLED THE MAY 7 ELECTIONS, PRESIDENT BUSH SUPPORTED THE 
ARDUOUS EFFORTS OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES TO 
RESOLVE THE CRISIS BY FACILITATING A PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF 
POWER THROUGH DEMOCRATIC MEANS. 

 DESPITE THE MOST DEDICATED EFFORTS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST 
MEETING OF CONSULTATION OF FOREIGN MINISTERS, NORIEGA 
STEADFASTLY DENIED THE RIGHTS OF THE PANAMANIAN PEOPLE TO 
CHOOSE A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT.  INSTEAD, HE FLOUTED THE 
DECISIONS OF THE MEETING OF CONSULTATION AS WELL AS THE 
CONSTITUTION OF PANAMA, WHICH CALLED FOR A TRANSFER OF 
POWER, THROUGH DEMOCRATIC MEANS, BY SEPTEMBER 1. 

 NORIEGA'S SYSTEMIC AND SYSTEMATIC VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN 
RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF PANAMA PROMPTED THE OAS GENERAL 
ASSEMBLY LAST MONTH TO TAKE THE UNUSUAL STEP OF 
SPECIFICALLY ENDORSING THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE SPECIAL 
REPORT ON PANAMA OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN 
RIGHTS, A REPORT THAT CAN ONLY BE CHARACTERIZED AS 
"DEVASTATING" IN ITS IMPACT.  THE ASSEMBLY ADOPTED A 
RESOLUTION WHICH RESOLVES "TO EXPRESS ITS DEEP CONCERN FOR 
THE SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES 
IN PANAMA, ESPECIALLY THOSE BEARING ON THE FULL OBSERVANCE 
OF CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, AS THE INTER-AMERICAN 
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS HAS STATED IN ITS SPECIAL 
REPORT ON THAT COUNTRY." 

 IN RECENT DAYS, THE CRISIS HAS GROWN FAR MORE DANGEROUS. 
NORIEGA HAS ACTED IN AN INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE, 
UNPREDICTABLE, AND DANGEROUS MANNER.  FIRST HE DECLARED 
HIMSELF "MAXIMUM LEADER" LAST FRIDAY, THEN HE DECLARED A 
STATE OF WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES.  FOLLOWING THAT 
DECLARATION OF WAR, THE PANAMANIAN DEFENSE FORCES FELT 
FREE TO FIRE AT MILITARY PERSONNEL OF THE UNITED STATES 
STATIONED IN PANAMA UNDER THE CANAL TREATIES. 

 THE VIOLENT INCIDENTS WHICH RESULTED IN THE DEATH OF AN 
UNARMED MILITARY OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES AND PHYSICAL 
ATTACKS ON OTHER U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL PROVOKED FEARS OF 
NEW, MORE THREATENING ACTS OF VIOLENCE DIRECTED AGAINST 
OUR CITIZENS IN PANAMA. 

 NOW THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS ACTED, UNITED STATES FORCES 
WILL TAKE ONLY THE MEASURES NECESSARY TO ASSURE THE SAFETY 
OF AMERICANS AND THE INTEGRITY OF THE PANAMA CANAL 
TREATIES.  ALL FEASIBLE MEASURES HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO 
MINIMIZE THE RISK OF CIVILIAN DAMAGE OR CASUALTIES.  THE 
U.S. HOPES TO WITHDRAW ITS FORCES AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 

 THE UNITED STATES IS FULLY COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING THE 
PANAMA CANAL TREATIES.  INDEED, AN ADDITIONAL REASON THE 
PRESIDENT WAS FORCED TO ACT WAS TO SAFEGUARD THE CANAL AND 
UPHOLD THE LONG-TERM INTEGRITY OF THE TREATIES UNDER 
STEADY ATTACK FROM THE DETERIORATING CONDITIONS IMPOSED BY 
NORIEGA. 

 THE UNITED STATES RECOGNIZES THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED 
GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT ENDARA.  IT IS IMPORTANT, IN 
PARTICULAR, THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY RALLY AROUND 
THE NEW DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT OF PANAMA, JUST AS IT DID 
WHEN INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS SUPPORTED ENDARA, ARIAS 
CALDERON, AND FORD WHEN THEY WERE ATTACKED AND BRUTALIZED 
FOLLOWING THE MAY 7 ELECTIONS. 

 WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT OUR ACTIONS 
AS DOES THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF PANAMA, 
WHICH WE CONSULTED AND WHICH SUPPORTS OUR ACTION.  WE 
PLEDGE OUR SUPPORT FOR A COMPLETE TRANSITION TO ELECTED 
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN PANAMA, TO THE FULL PROTECTION OF 
THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PANAMANIAN PEOPLE, AND TO THE 
ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY.  WE ARE 
DEALING WITH AN EXTRAORDINARILY COMPLICATED AND COMPLEX 
SITUATION AND FAST BREAKING DEVELOPMENTS. 

 THE UNITED STATES WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP THE COUNCIL 
INFORMED AS EVENTS DEVELOP. 

 THANK YOU. 

3.  END TEXT. 
 
 
BAKER 

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