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Operation Just Cause (Dec 20, 1989 - Jan 12, 1990)

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VIGNETTES

  

OPERATION JUST CAUSE 

INITIAL PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

December 20, 1989

 

 

SOUTHERN COMMAND RADIO AND TELEVISION NETWORK

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

to the American Community in Panama

(December 20, 1989 - 12:36 a.m., repeated several times)

 

This is a SOUTHCOM special announcement, once again, this is a SOUTHCOM special announcement.

The Command is currently at PML Echo. All personnel should stay in place. Because of recent actions by the Noriega regime, the President of the United States has ordered military actions against the Panama Defense Forces. The purpose of this action is to ensure the protection of U.S. personnel and U.S. facilities, and guarantee the future safe operation of the Panama Canal. There is fighting throughout Panama and all personnel should remain at home. Remain in place. All U.S. schools are closed until further notice, and all movement except by U.S. military forces is prohibited. Whether you live on a U.S. defense site or in any area in Panama stay off the street. Stay away from doors or windows. Ensure that you and your children do not go outside and do not interfere with any U.S. maneuvers. These operations are not directed against the people of Panama, but rather Noriega who has been indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges, and the Panama Defense Forces who are responsible for continued harassment, and even the murder of a U.S. military officer. PML Echo is in effect, there is a threat to the lives of U.S. personnel. If you live on a defense site or military area of coordination, stay there. Travel to or thru any area not on a defense site or military area of coordination is not authorized except for U.S. military forces. All exchanges, commissaries, etc., are closed until further notice. Limit your use of the telephone to emergency calls only. Hospital emergency rooms only are open. All other routine clinic appointments are cancelled. Again we are currently in PML Echo. Stay tuned to SCN radio and television for further advisories.

This has been a SOUTHCOM special announcement.

 

___________________________________________________________

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________________________


For Immediate release December 20, 1989

 

PRESIDENTIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

 

My Fellow Americans, I have asked for this time to speak to you about the crisis in Panama.

For nearly two years the United States, the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, have worked together to resolve the crisis in Panama through diplomacy. Our goals were to safeguard the democratic rights of the people of Panama and the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaties.

Every attempt to resolve this crisis through diplomacy has been rejected and rebuffed by the dictator of Panama, General Manuel Noriega, an indicted drug trafficker. In recent days, the crisis has grown far more dangerous.

On Friday, General 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 to death an unarmed American serviceman, arrested and beat another American serviceman, and brutalized his wife.

General Noriega's reckless and inflammatory threats and attacks upon Americans in Panama have created an atmosphere of imminent danger to the 35,000 American citizens in Panama. The have also endangered the security of the Panama Canal which the United States has a Treaty obligation to protect.

As President, I have no higher obligation then to safeguard the lives of American citizens. This is why I directed our armed forces yesterday to mount a military operation to protect the lives of American citizens in Panama and to seize and arrest General Noriega. At this moment, U.S. forces including forces deployed from the United States today, are engaged in action in Panama to achieve these goals. I consulted with the bipartisan leadership of Congress earlier this evening and briefed them about this decision.

The United States will use force only as necessary to achieve these objectives and intends to withdraw the forces newly deployed to Panama as quickly as possible.

The United States has treaty obligations in Panama that we are going to honor. One of these obligations is that we ensure the safe operation of the Canal for all nations. Another is that beginning in the year 2,000, we will turn over the operation of the Canal to Panama. Our actions will also permit us to honor these commitments.

The United States took this action after our representatives consulted with the leaders of Panama who were democratically elected in the May 7th election which General Noriega refused to recognize. These democratic leaders support this decision and plan to organize a new government.

Upon the installation of a democratic government, in Panama, the United States will take the following actions to restore normal relations and help Panama rebuild its economy.

    1. We will name an Ambassador immediately and normalize relations.
    2. We will life all existing economic sanctions.
    3. The United States will begin immediate steps to restore to the government and people of Panama more than $400 million in fees held in escrow accounts for them during this crisis.
    4. As soon as the new democratic 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.

The United States is committed to building of a new relationship

with the democratic nations of this hemisphere. We have worked closely together seeking to resolve the crisis in Panama through the OAS and other diplomatic forums. I remain committed to seeking multi-lateral solutions to the problems of this region through dialogue and compromise. 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. The United States is eager to work with the Panamanian people in partnership and friendship to rebuild the economy of that country and move forward with the rapid implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties. The Panamanian people want democracy, peace, and the chance for a better life in dignity and freedom. The people of the Untied States seek only to support them in pursuit of those noble goals.

 

 

___________________________________________________________

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________________________

PRESS BRIEFING

BY

MARLIN FITZWATER

 

December 20, 1989

 

1:40 A.M. EST

 

MR. FITZWATER: The President has directed United States forces to execute at 1:00 a.m. this morning pre-planned missions in Panama to protect American lives, restore the democratic process, preserve the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty, and apprehend Manuel Noriega.

The situation in Panama under General Noriega has reached a crisis. Democratic elections have been thwarted, American lives have been in danger. The integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty is at risk. General Noriega is under indictment for drug-trafficking charges, and the President has made every effort peacefully to resolve the situation through negotiations under the auspices of the Organization of American States and Latin American leaders. General Noriega has rejected all of these efforts.

Last Friday, Noriega declared a state of war with the United States. The next day, the PDF shot to death an unarmed American serviceman, wounded another, seized and beat another serviceman and sexually threatened his wife. Under these circumstances, the President decided he must act to prevent further violence. Our troops will use only the force necessary to achieve the objectives and will be withdrawn as quickly as possible.

At approximately midnight tonight, the democratically-elected leaders of Panama -- President Endara and Vice Presidents Calderon and Ford -- were sworn in and assumed their rightful positions. They welcome and support our actions and have stated their intention to institute a democratic government immediately. The United States has recognized that government and will restore normal relations and will cooperate to rebuild a free and prosperous Panama.

(Questions by the attending White House press and answers not included here)

 

 

 

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