Date: Mon, 6 Jul 98 11:40:36 CDT
/** reg.nicaragua: 67.0 **/
Plans for "Multilateral" Anti-Drug Center on Hold
Weekly News Update on the Americas, issue #440, 5 July 1998
After more than a year of negotiations, Panama and the US seem to have backed away from plans to establish the so-called Multilateral Anti-drug Center (CMA) on the grounds of US military bases slated for closing by December 31, 1999. US officials are now said to be seeking support from other countries for alternatives to a Panama-based anti-drug center. The Panamanian government has said it would support the establishment of such a center in another country. Difficulties arose after the Panamanian government rejected a US condition that operation of the center be guaranteed for a minimum of 12 years. Panama was reportedly seeking a three-year operation with the possibility of renewal. [El Nuevo Herald (Miami) 6/30/98 from AP; Agencia Informativa Amarc-Pulsar; 6/29/98, 7/1/98; El Diario-La Prensa 6/29/98 from AP]
An article in the British magazine The Economist notes that to the US, Howard Air Force Base is "the jewel in the crown" of its bases in Panama, featuring radio listening posts, a naval station, a jungle-warfare school, and three firing ranges and a laboratory used for testing weapons and equipment in tropical conditions. The tropical testing center, The Economist reports, is considered irreplaceable and has become a sore point between the US and Panama. The article suggests that regardless of what happens to the CMA, the testing center is likely to survive beyond 1999, "perhaps under a nominally private-sector flag."
The article points out that the US has "several reasons for wanting to stay" in Panama. "One is security for the canal, another Colombia. The one being trumpeted by the Clinton administration is drugs." [Economist 6/27/98]
Weekly News Update on the Americas * Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012 * 212-674-9499 fax: 212-674-9139 http://home.earthlink.net/~dbwilson/wnuhome.html * firstname.lastname@example.org