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Government Closes Radio Station

August 19, 1988

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ The government controlled by Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega shut down a private radio station that extensively covered the death and funeral of a former president who was a harsh critic of the regime.

Radio Noticias owner Carlos Fabregas said Thursday that officials from the Justice Ministry arrived at the station Wednesday night and read an order to employees closing it for ″inciting subversion.″

Fabregas spoke in a live interview over Radio Alegre, another privately owned station. Ministry officials were not available for comment.

Radio Noticias closely reported the death last week and the funeral on Monday of former President Arnulfo Arias Madrid.

Arias, 86, who died in Miami, was three times elected president and three times overthrown by the military.

The funeral brought huge crowds into the streets of Panama City in what became a protest procession against the government, which Noriega controls as head of the 15,000-member Defense Forces.

″The authorities are alarmed by this demonstration,″ Fabregas said.

Noriega is under U.S. indictment on drug trafficking charges, which he denies.

Dissent against Noriega and efforts by the Reagan administration, including economic sanctions, have failed to force the general out of power.

Days after Noriega was indicted, President Eric Arturo Delvalle tried to fire him as military chief. Noriega had the national legislature oust Delvalle.

Delvalle went into hiding, but the United States still recognizes him as Panama’s legitimate president.

Since July 1987, the government has closed the opposition newspapers La Prensa, Extra and El Siglo and the radio stations Mundial and Continente. They reopened briefly at one point but were closed again.

The government also closed Quiubo, a satirical magazine, and Gaceta Financiera, a financial weekly.

It closed Channel 5, the television station owned by Delvalle, soon after he was forced from office.

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