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Noriega Critic Forbidden to Leave Panama

February 14, 1988

PANAMA CITY (AP) _ Security agents Sunday stopped retired Gen. Ruben D. Paredes, the former commander of Panama’s Defense Forces and a leading government critic, from leaving the country.

Paredes, a vocal critic of the country’s de facto leader, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, was halted at Panama City’s international airport. He was trying to board a commercial flight to Miami, where he planned to hire legal counsel for his son, Ameth.

Ameth Paredes was indicted on drug trafficking charges along with Noriega and 14 others by a federal grand jury in Miami on Feb. 4. Paredes has accused Noriega of involvement in the death of another son, Ruben Jr., who was found dead in Medellin, Colombia, in 1986. Noriega has denied any wrongdoing.

Another opposition figure, Carlos Gonzalez de la Lastra, also was forbidden from leaving Saturday when he tried to leave from the airport on a Central American business trip.

Gonzalez is a leader of the National Civic Crusade, a coalition of business, civic, professional, labor and other groups that has been seeking Noriega’s ouster since last June.

Gonzalez has been charged with sedition by the government, but said he was carrying a court order allowing him to leave the country temporarily. Security agents said the document was not in order.

Security forces Sunday also expelled an American newsman, Larry Lamotte, a correspondent for the Cable News Network, for allegedly filing ″unobjective news reports″ from Panama.

Lamotte said an agent came to his hotel room Saturday night and told him to pack his bags. He was put on the first available flight to Miami. He was the second CNN correspondent tossed out of the country in recent months.

Paredes, who preceded Noriega as head of Panama’s military forces in 1982 and 1983, said he was told he could not leave the country because of a pending libel charge against him by the government.

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