Today (Monday) marks the third anniversary of the military coup that brought Panamanian strongman General Omar Torrijos Herrera to power.
Today (Monday) marks the third anniversary of the military coup that brought Panamanian strongman General Omar Torrijos Herrera to power. United States observers feared that mass demonstrations called to celebrate the anniversary could take a violent anti-American turn -- Panamanians are calling for the return of the 10-mile (16 km) wide U.S. controlled Panama canal zone. But there was no sign of violence as General Torrijos started the celebrations by watching a rally of 30,000 schoolchildren in Panama City. This pre-coverage of the flashpoint anniversary was filmed by the National Broadcasting Company.
SYNOPSIS: Monday marked the third anniversary of the military coup that brought Panamanian strongman, General Omar Torrijos Herrera, to power. Here, he's the centre of attraction for some thirty thousand schoolchildren, ferried to a Panama City stadium to honour the General. It was a peaceful lead-in to Monday's celebrations. But United States observers in Panama feared that the anniversary could take a violent anti-American turn.
Any trouble was predicted to centre on the Panama Canal. Pressure has been building up in the country for the return of the ten-mile-wide canal zone, which the United States has administered since 1903. Since the early summer, a Panamanian delegation has been in Washington trying to negotiate a new dea??? over the canal. It contends that in the nuclear age, American bases to protect the canal are no longer necessary. It is further claimed that the 1903 treaty, bestowing the canal zone on the United States for ever, is void and in contravention of the United Nations Charter.
Highpoint of Monday's anniversary celebrations was to be a rally, staged here -- just a couple of hundred yards from the canal zone. It was also thought likely to be the flashpoint. With an estimated hundred-thousand people expected, observers were fearing a repeat of the 1964 riots, in which Panamanians and Americans were killed and relations between the two countries suspended.