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48 U.S. Personnel Ordered Out of Panama Over Aid Cutback

December 03, 1987|United Press International

PANAMA CITY — Panama on Wednesday ordered the expulsions of 48 U.S. government workers in retaliation for U.S. reductions in aid after a rock- and paint-throwing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, officials said.

The order was the strongest anti-U.S. action taken by the Panamanian government since Washington suspended military and economic aid after a mob led by pro-military legislators threw rocks and paint at the embassy and vehicles in June, causing $106,000 in damage.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Sondra McCarty said Panama City informed the U.S. Embassy in a diplomatic note that all U.S. Aid for International Development employees must leave as soon as possible "because of our aid suspension."

The U.S. Embassy said the order will affect 48 U.S. aid agency personnel stationed in Panama and will force layoffs of 101 Panamanian employees.

Embassy spokeswoman Cynthia Farrell did not say when the AID personnel would leave, but a Panamanian legislator said the Americans must be gone by Tuesday.

In response to alleged corruption within the government, suppression of demonstrations and the attack on the embassy, the United States has cut its aid to Panama from a planned $25.8 million to $12 million for the fiscal year that ended in September.

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