Viewing cable 05PANAMA698
Title: YOUR VISIT TO PANAMA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05PANAMA6982005-03-29 19:51:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 000698

SIPDIS

PERSONAL FOR CJCS GENERAL RICHARD B. MYERS FROM AMBASSADOR
LINDA WATT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2015
TAGS: OVIP PREL MOPS PM POL CHIEF
SUBJECT: YOUR VISIT TO PANAMA


Classified By: AMBASSADOR LINDA WATT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

¶1.  (C) When I heard of your plan to visit Panama on April 10
my Embassy immediately began making preparations to welcome
you.  I personally have been looking forward to meeting you
and working with you.  Recently Panama has been the focus of
intense Washington interest and we have had the honor to host
an unprecedented number of USG delegations, including codels
Weller, Pombo, Blunt, Taylor, Hyde, and Renzi.  Many
Panamanians also are traveling to Washington on official
business.  Normally senior-level USG visits, such as yours,
get passing positive mention in the local press.  However,
the confluence of your visit with two other high-level
bilateral visits with military and security themes has me
worried about the predictable local reaction.  On April 4,
Gen. Craddock from U.S. Southern Command will meet with
senior Panamanian officials in Panama.  On April 6, the
Panamanian Minister of Government of Justice will meet with
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other officials in Washington.
 Add your visit to the mix and journalists, politicians, and
opinion leaders will assume that something big is in the air
with the U.S. military and stridently demand to know what it
is.

¶2.  (C) As you know, Panama abolished its military after a
21-year dictatorship, following Operation Just Cause and the
toppling of Gen. Noriega in 1989.  In November 2004,
following Sec. Rumsfeld's visit to Panama, we endured
uncomfortable and unfounded speculation about a purported
"Plan Rumsfeld" and absurd allegations about plans to
remilitarize the country.  My concern is that an exaggerated
public footprint of three back-to-back meetings in one week
involving our highest military and defense officials will
spawn unfounded suspicion of our intentions.  The local press
can be counted on to look for a conspiracy in your visit and
to give it the worst possible interpretation, unjustified
though it is.  I know you can appreciate the need to avoid
the corrosive influence of distrust and negative publicity in
the conduct of bilateral relations.  We all are honored that
you want to visit Panama and I sincerely hope that you will.
But on this occasion I trust you will agree with me and
postpone your very welcome visit until another point in the
near future, so that your visit to Panama will be
constructive and helpful rather than an opportunity for our
detractors to create a public relations problem for us and a
political circus for the government of Panama.

¶3.  (U) With warm regards and admiration,
Linda Watt

WATT