US embassy cable - 89STATE404914

TF/PM02: HISTORY OF DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO RESOLVE HE PANAMANIAN CRISIS

Identifier: 89STATE404914
Wikileaks: View 89STATE404914 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1989-12-21 05:18:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PM US PREL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 210518Z DEC 89
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 404914 
 
E.O. 12356:  N/A 
TAGS:  PM, US, PREL 
SUBJECT:  TF/PM02:  HISTORY OF DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO 
RESOLVE HE PANAMANIAN CRISIS 
 
FOLLOWING BACKGROUND ON PANAMA CRISIS, WHICH HAS BEEN 
MADE AVAILABLE TO PRESS IN WASHINGTON. MAY BE USED AS 
DESIRED BY POSTS: 

SEPTEMBER 1985 - NORIEGA FORCES BARLETTA TO RESIGN 
PRESIDENCY AFTER LESS THAN ONE YEAR IN OFFICE, DESPITE 
URGINGS BY HIGH-LEVEL U.S. OFFICIALS AND OTHERS TO 
RESPECT CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS AND CIVILIAN PRESIDENTIAL 
AUTHORITY. 

DECEMBER 1985 - ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL 
SECURITY AFFAIRS JOHN POINDEXTER TRAVELS TO PANAMA.  ON 
BEHALF OF THE USG, HE ADVISES NORIEGA TO OPEN POLITICAL 
SPACE IN PANAMA AND REDUCE THE MILITARY'S ROLE IN 
POLITICS.  ADVICE GOES UNHEEDED. 

JUNE 1987 - NORIEGA RENEGES ON SIGNED AGREEMENT WITH 
OTHER PDF OFFICERS TO RELINQUISH COMMAND.  NORIEGA FIRES 
HIS DESIGNATED SUCCESSOR, DIAZ HERRERA.  DIAZ PUBLICLY 
ACCUSES NORIEGA OF ASSASSINATION, VOTE FRAUD 
CORRUPTION.  PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS AND STRIKES BREAK OUT 
IN PROTEST AND CONTINUE INTERMITTENTLY THROUGH OCTOBER 
1987. 

OCTOBER 1987 - NORIEGA, FACED WITH PUBLIC PROTESTS OF 
HIS RULE, ASKS PANAMANIAN CONSUL JOSE BLANDON TO CONSULT 
OPPOSITION AND DEVELOP A SOLUTION.  WHEN ADVISED THAT 
HIS COMMITMENT TO RETIRE IS ESSENTIAL TO A SOLUTION, 
NORIEGA INITIALLY SEEMS SUPPORTIVE.  BUT AS NEGOTIATIONS 
PROCEED, HE DISAVOWS HIS REPRESENTATIVES AND THREATENS 
THEIR ARREST. 

DECEMBER 1987 - ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE RICHARD 
ARMITAGE TRAVELS TO PANAMA.  ARMITAGE ADVISES NORIEGA 
THAT U.S. RELATIONSHIP IS JEOPARDIZED BY HIS HUMAN 
RIGHTS PRACTICES AND POLITICAL REPRESSION.  NORIEGA 
TELLS OTHER OFFICERS AND PUBLIC THAT U.S. HAS REAFFIRMED 
ITS STRONG SUPPORT FOR HIS RULE. 
FEBRUARY 6, 1984 - NORIEGA INDICTED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING. 

MID-FEBRUARY 1988 - PRESIDENT DELVALLE PRIVATELY ADVISES 
NORIEGA TO STEP DOWN IN LIGHT OF DRUG INDICTMENTS.  PRESIDENT 
DELVALLE OFFERS TO USE HIS INFLUENCE TO ASSIST NORIEGA IN 
HANDLING HIS LEGAL DIFFICULTIES IF NORIEGA VOLUNTARILY 
RETIRES.  NORIEGA REFUSES. 
 
FEBRUARY 25 - DELVALLE DISMISSES NORIEGA; NORIEGA REBELS. 

LATE FEBRUARY-EARLY MARCH - A EUROPEAN GOVERNMENT, AFTER 
CONSULTATIONS WITH U.S., OFFERS NORIEGA ASYLUM AND PROTECTION 
FROM EXTRADITION PURSUANT TO ITS ASYLUM LAWS.  NORIEGA REFUSES 
OFFER. 

MARCH 16, 1988 - COUP ATTEMPT AGAINST NORIEGA. 

MARCH 19, 1988 - DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY WILLIAM WALKER AND 
DEPUTY LEGAL ADVISOR MICHAEL KOZAK MEET NORIEGA AND OFFER TO 
FACILITATE HIS IMMEDIATE DEPARTURE TO EXILE AS WELL AS 
GUARANTEES FOR THE PANAMANIAN DEFENSE FORCES. THE GOVERNMENT 
POLITICAL PARTY, AND NORIEGA'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  NORIEGA 
REFUSES  DISMISSES HIS OPPONENTS AS PSYCHOTIC, AND 
MISREPRESENTS THE U.S. POSITION TO THE PDF GENERAL STAFF AS A 
U.S. ULTIMATUM TO DISBAND THE PDF. 

MARCH-APRIL 1988 - A CENTRAL AMERICAN PRESIDENT, A EUROPEAN 
PRIME MINISTER AND A RESPECTED LATIN LEADER ATTEMPT TO MEDIATE 
BETWEEN NORIEGA AND THE PANAMANIAN OPPOSITION, BUT NORIEGA 
REJECTS OUTSIDE MEDIATION. 

LATE MARCH, EARLY - CONTACTS THROUGH INTERMEDIARY WITH NORIEGA 
APRIL 1988 - AND GENERAL STAFF ESTABLISH AN AGENDA FOR DIRECT 
NEGOTIATIONS, INCLUDING THE SUBJECT OF NORIEGA'S DEPARTURE. 

APRIL 22 - MAY 25, - PRESIDENT SENDS DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETAR 
1988 - MICHAEL KOZAK AND LT. COL. GERALD CLARK AS SPECIAL 
EMISSARIES.  THEY NEGOTIATE DIRECTLY WITH NORIEGA A SCENARIO 
FOR HIS DEPARTURE NO LATER THAN AUGUST 12, 1988, A RESTORATIO) 
OF POLITICAL AND CIVIL LIBERTIES, PROVISION FOR TRANSITIONAL 
POLITICAL ARRANGEMENTS TO BE NEGOTIATED BY PANAMANIANS AND 
DISMISSAL OF U.S. INDICTMENTS FOLLOWING NORIEGA'S DEPARTURE. 
NORIEGA REFUSES TO IMPLEMENT AGREEMENT AT LAST MOMENT, CITING 
RESISTANCE FROM MIDDLE GRADE OFFICERS. 

JUNE 1988 - A RESPECTED LATIN LEADER MEETS NORIEGA AND OFFERS 
TO MEDIATE.  NORIEGA DISMISSES SUCH EFFORTS AS IRRELEVANT. 
NORIEGA STATES THAT ONLY THE U.S. HAS LEVERAGE WITH HIM. 

SUMMER 1988 - A LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENT SENDS A MILITARY 
EMISSARY TO NORIEGA.  THE EMISSARY FINDS NORIEGA INTRANSIGENT 

SUMMER 1988 - A CENTRAL AMERICAN PRESIDENT EXPLORES THROUGH 
EMISSARIES THE POSSIBILITY OF MEDIATION AMONG PANAMANIAN 
POLITICAL FORCES.  HE ULTIMATELY DETERMINES THAT NORIEGA IS 
INTRANSIGENT AND ABANDONS THE EFFORT. 

LATE SUMMER/EARLY - SECRETARY SHULTZ ENCOURAGES A SOUTH 
FALL, 1988 -  AMERICAN  PRESIDENT IN HIS OFFER TO MEDIATE. 
FOREIGN MINISTER IS APPOINTED TO UNDERTAKE THIS MISSION. 
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOZAK PROVIDES THE MEDIATOR A FULL 
BRIEFING ON THE MAY NEGOTIATIONS AND, ON INSTRUCTIONS, 
INDICATES U.S. WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT AN APPROACH WHEREBY 
NORIEGA WOULD BE ALLOWED TO TAKE EXILE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY. 
THROUGH INTERMEDIARIES, U.S. ADVISES NORIEGA/GENERAL STAFF THA 
MEDIATOR IS AUTHENTIC CHANNEL.  MEDIATOR MEETS WITH NORIEGA 
REPRESENTATIVE.  NORIEGA'S FOREIGN MINISTER THEN CONTACTS 
MEDIATOR ON ISSUE (PRESUMABLY AT NORIEGA'S INSTIGATION). 
NORIEGA USES FACT OF CONVERSATION AS PRETEXT TO DENOUNCE 
MEDIATOR AS UNRELIABLE (FOR REVEALING CONTACT TO NORIEGA'S OWN 
MAN) AND CUTS OFF FURTHER CONTACT. 

DECEMBER 1988 - PRESIDENT DELVALLE OFFERS TO NEGOTIATE A 
PANAMANIAN SOLUTION WITH NORIEGA.  NORIEGA SAYS ONLY THAT HE I 
WILLING TO CEASE PRESSURE ON DELVALLE'S FAMILY AND PROPERTIES 
IF DELVALLE WILL CAPITULATE. 
 
APRIL 27, 1988 - PRESIDENT BUSH URGES FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS 
ON MAY 7 TO END PANAMA'S POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS AND 
INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION. 

MAY 7, 1989 - NORIEGA ANNULS ELECTIONS AFTER OPPOSITION WINS 
DECISIVE VICTORY. 

MAY 10, 1989 - NORIEGA'S FORCES ATTACK BRUTALLY THE OPPOSITION 
CANDIDATES. 

MAY 11, 1989 - PRESIDENT BUSH ANNOUNCES THAT  THE UNITED STATE 
STRONGLY SUPPORTS AND WILL COOPERATE WITH INITIATIVES TAKEN BY 
GOVERNMENTS IN THIS HEMISPHERE TO ADDRESS THIS CRISIS THROUGH 
REGIONAL DIPLOMACY AND ACTION IN THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN 
STATES AND THROUGH OTHER MEANS.  THE UNITED STATES AND ALL 
DEMOCRATIC NATIONS IN THIS HEMISPHERE HOPE THAT A PEACEFUL 
RESOLUTION CAN BE FOUND TO THE CRISIS IN PANAMA.  AND WE URGE 
ALL THOSE IN PANAMA, EVERY INDIVIDUAL  EVERY INSTITUTION, TO 
PUT THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR COUNTRY FIRST AND SEEK AN HONORABL 
SOLUTION TO THIS CRISIS.  THE WAY IS STILL OPEN." 

MAY 17, 1989 - AN EXTRAORDINARY OAS MEETING OF CONSULTATION OF 
MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (MFM) ADOPTS A RESOLUTION WHICH 
NOTES ABUSES BY GENERAL NORIEGA OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS; 
EXPRESSES CONCERN THAT "CRISIS . . . COULD ENDANGER THE 
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.  MFM ESTABLISHES A COMMISSIO 
OF THREE FOREIGN MINISTERS TO CONCILIATE." 

JUNE 6, 1989 - MFM EXTENDS THE MISSION'S MANDATE "TO MAKE IT 
POSSIBLE TO ARRIVE AT A CONCILIATION FORMULA THAN CAN SURMOUNT 
THE PRESENT DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SITUATION OF 
PANAMA." 

JULY 19, 1989 - THE OAS MISSION REPORTS THAT "THE CONTINUED 
PRESENCE OF GENERAL NORIEGA AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE 
DEFENSE FORCES HAS BEEN INDENTIFIED BOTH BY SUPPORTERS AND 
OPPOSITION AS ONE OF THE FACTORS, IF NOT THE FACTOR  WHICH MUS 
BE ADDRESSED IN ORDER TO SOLVE THE CRISIS AS A WHOLE AND MORE 
PARTICULARLY THE LEGAL AND POLITICAL SITUATION ARISING FROM TT 
ANNULMENT OF THE MAY 7 ELECTORAL PROCESS." 

JULY 20, 1989 - MFM DECIDES "TO REQUEST THE MISSION TO ASSIST 
THE PARTIES IN THE CONDUCT OF THE NEGOTIATIONS SO THAT THEY MA 
BRING ABOUT, THROUGH DEMOCRATIC MECHANISMS AND IN ACCORDANCE 
WITH DOMESTIC PROCEDURES IN EFFECT IN PANAMA, A TRANSFER OF 
POWER ON SEPTEMBER L, L989 AND THE HOLDING OF FREE ELECTIONS 
SOON AS POSSIBLE." 

MID-AUGUST 1989 - OAS TEAM SUCCEEDS IN BROKERING DEAL BETWEEN 
OPPOSITION AND NORIEGA'S REPRESENTATIVE INVOLVING A 
TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT, NORIEGA'S RESIGNATION, AND NEW 
ELECTIONS; NORIEGA REFUSES, DENOUNCING HIS NEGOTIATOR FOR 
EXCEEDING INSTRUCTIONS. 

AUGUST 24, 1989 - OAS DISENGAGES FROM THE PROCESS. 

LATE AUGUST 1989 - U.S. OFFICIAL MEETS SENIOR REPRESENTATIVE 
NORIEGA, URGES THAT ARRANGEMENTS NEGOTIATED BY PANAMANIANS 
UNDER OAS AUSPICES BE IMPLEMENTED, REAFFIRMS U.S. INTENTIONS 
REGARDING NORIEGA, AND PROVIDES ASSURANCES REGARDING 
AVAILABILITY OF PANAMANIAN FUNDS TO NEW GOVERNMENT" 

SEPTEMBER 1, 1989 - PRESIDENT BUSH DEPLORES THE REPRESSION OF 
GENERAL NORIEGA AND STATES THAT THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT 
RECOGNIZE ANY GOVERNMENT INSTALLED BY NORIEGA. 

LATE SEPTEMBER 1989 - NORIEGA'S U.S. LAWYERS CONTACT STATE 
DEPARTMENT SEEKING A MEETING. 

OCTOBER 3, 1989 - COUP ATTEMPT AGAINST NORIEGA.  COUP LEADERS 
OFFER NORIEGA RETIREMENT IN PANAMA.  NORIEGA  PUTS DOWN COUP 
AND EXECUTES LEADERS. 

OCTOBER 1989 - DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOZAK, ROBERT MULLE. 
OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE AND DEPUTY LEGAL ADVISER 
MICHAEL MATHESON MEET WITH NORIEGA ATTORNEY.  ATTORNEY STATES 
HE IS AUTHORIZED TO DISCUSS NORIEGA'S DEPARTURE.  USG 
PARTICIPANTS REQUEST A SPECIFIC PROPOSAL AND OUTLINE USG 
PARAMETERS.  ATTORNEY UNDERTAKES TO CONSULT WITH NORIEGA AND 
RETURN WITH A PROPOSAL WITHIN A WEEK.  NO FURTHER CONTACT IS 
MADE. 

NOVEMBER 1989 - NORIEGA REPRESENTATIVE ADVISES U.S. 
REPRESENTATIVE THAT HE HAS BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL IN OBTAINING ANY 
FLEXIBILITY FROM NORIEGA AND IS UNDER INSTRUCTIONS NOT TO SPEAK 
TO THE U.S. 
 
 
BAKER 

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