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Attorney General Criticizes US Declaration on Drugs With AM-Panama, Bjt

March 2, 1988

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) _ Attorney General Carlos Villalaz said Wednesday the Reagan administration’s declaration that Panama is not helping fight illegal narcotics is ″inconceivabl e.″

On Tuesday, the U.S. government denied Panama certification as a nation doing its best against drug trafficking.

Lack of certification means an end to U.S. military and economic aid, but aid to Panama was cut off last year.

It also could mean withdrawal of U.S. support for Panamanian requests for loans from the World Bank and other international agencies, but no applications are pending.

Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panama’s military ruler, was indicted in Florida last month on trafficking charges.

Villalaz said in a statement: ″Having ... the evidence and reports that demonstrate that 1987 was the most successful year for joint (anti-narcotic s) operations between Panama and the United States, I declare that the current attitude of the North American government is inconceivable, illogical and immoral.″

He said drug arrests, confiscation of drugs and seizure of profits from their sale had increased, and noted reports by U.S. officials in 1987 praising the zeal of Panamanian officials. He said Washington had misrepresented the facts for political ends.

Noriega denies the drug trafficking accusations and claims they are part of a U.S. plot to renege on the Panama Canal agreement. Treaties signed in 1977 commit the United States to turn over the waterway to Panama at midnight Dec. 31, 1999.

″We have told the Americans time and again that, if they want to wipe out drug trafficking, they must be serious and set politics aside so that it does not interfere with stopping drugs,″ said the statement by Villalaz.

″Nevertheless, it would seem that the attitude of the American government is intended to dishearten its allies in the fight against drugs, giving incentive to the traffickers and destroying even more its own youth.

″It seems illogical that U.S. politicians, upon being unable to win the domestic war waged because of the large-scale consumption of drugs in their country, would pretend to resolve the problem by telling their electorate that the responsibility is Panama’s.″

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