Panama Accuses U.S. of Provocation
The Panamanian state water company said Monday that U.S. combat troops, acting in a “provocative manner,” took over a drinking water plant for 24 hours over the weekend.
Carlos Orillac, director of the national water board, told a news conference that 300 troops landed in helicopters Sunday morning at the Chilibre water plant, 30 miles northeast of the capital, and searched the installation throughout the day.
“They were dressed in combat gear with tape recorders and cameras,” Orillac said, adding: “They acted in a domineering and provocative manner.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command said only that American troops were not engaged in military exercises in the area of the plant.
U.S.-Panama tension has been high since May, when violence broke out after aborted presidential elections. As ordered by Washington, American employees and their dependents recently completed a move onto military bases.