Since the Shah's arrival in Panama (15 December) students have demonstrated daily against their government's decision to grant him refuge.
Since the Shah's arrival in Panama (15 December) students have demonstrated daily against their government's decision to grant him refuge. But, although the protests started off quietly....the government of Panama under President Aristides Royo is now facing daily bloodshed on the streets in some of the worst riots for years.
SYNOPSIS: Teenage students from schools and Universities have demonstrated every day since the Shah flew to their country from Texas. The move was hoped by the Panamanian Government to ease tensions surrounding the Shah's presence in the United States and American Hostages in Teheran. But, the Panamanians were not prepared for the violence that this show of hospitality to the former ruler has brought.
Anti-riot squads from the National guard have used tear gas and baton charges to disperse groups of students... even resorting to sub-machine gun fire over the heads of the protestors. The students have replied with stones and on one occasion bottles of acid.
The Shah has been granted sanctuary for as long as he want and is staying in a heavily guarded house on the millionaire resort island of Contadora. The student protestors have said that until the Shah leaves Panama their struggle and protests will continue. Government officials say that the demonstrations must be dealt with quickly to avoid harming the tourist trade and the country's economy.
The previous day the government showed exactly what it meant. On 19 December over five hundred students gathered at a city college to march through the streets. This was to be the third day of rioting and the National Guardsmen were prepared.
Police and National Guard riot squads rushed to the scene firing tear gas and shotguns over the protestors heads.
Eye-witness reports suggest at least thirty people were injured...but non seriously.