Southern Command Raises Alert Status for American Servicemen in Panama
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. Southern Command told American servicemen and their dependents in Panama today to reduce the amount of time they spend in public areas, citing the probability of new demonstrations against strongman Gen. Manuel A. Noriega.
The command also ordered Defense Department schools on the Pacific end of the Panama Canal to close at noon EDT, said Capt. Nancy LaLuntas, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The Pentagon said the Southern Command had raised the so-called Personnel Movement Limitation to a ″Bravo″ status, effective at 10 a.m. EDT.
Under the Bravo alert status, American servicemen and dependents are instructed to ″decrease visibility″ because ″some civil disturbance activity is probable.″
According to the military order, all personnel ″should reduce the amount of time spent in public areas of Panama.″
″If you do not live on a defense site or military area of coordination, stay around your residence unless traveling to and from work or conducting personal business in a non-affected area,″ the order said.
The moves were ordered strictly ″on a precautionary basis based on the probability of some civil disturbances this afternoon,″ she added.
Leaders of the opposition to Noriega’s rule have planned a number of street demonstrations in and around Panama City today. Panama’s attorney general, Carlos Villalaz, countered Wednesday by announcing that leaders of the Civic Crusude opposition would be arrested on subversion charges.
The U.S. Southern Command is responsible for overseeing all American military personnel in Central and South America, and is headquartered in Panama. There are more than 10,000 U.S. servicemen in Panama.