URGENT General Assembly Condemns Panama Invasion 75-20
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly condemned the U.S. invasion of Panama as a ″flagrant violation″ of international law and called for the swift withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The vote was 75 to 20, with 40 abstentions.
General Assembly resolutions are not binding and have no legal force, but they carry moral weight as the will of the international community.
U.S. Ambassador M. James Wilkinson said before the vote that the resolution was unbalanced because it denounced only the U.S. invasion, and not the alleged drug trafficking crimes of Gen. Mantuel Antonio Noriega and his suppression of democracy.
″The United States has no interest in military presence in Panama beyond our obligations under the Canal Treaties,″ Wilkinson said. ″The forces recently deployed will withdraw as rapidly as Panamanian forces can restore security. We are confident this will take place in a short time.″
He said the international community should recognize that ″the freely expressed will of the Panamanian people has opted decisively for the (President Guillermo) Endara government and rejected the despotic drug trafficker, Manuel Noriega.″
Endara was believed to be have won the Panamanian elections earlier this year but the results were voided by Noriega, who is holed up in the Vatican embassy in Panama.
Later, Panamanian envoy Leon Abadi Abadi, who switched sides from Noriega to Endara, denounced Noriega as a ″narco-terrorist who placed his interest above those of the Panamanian people.″ The career diplomat denounced ″the tyrant dictator who rejected the democratic election of May 7.″
Panama voted against the resolution, although Cuba denounced Abadi for changing sides.
The resolution ″strongly deplores″ the U.S. invasion and ″demands″ withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Most Latin countries voted in favor of the resolution. The Soviet Union and China also voted in favor. Portugal voted no and Spain voted yes.
Votes against the resolution included, besides the United States, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey.
The assembly, meeting in emergency session at the request of Cuba and Nicaragua, heard a dozen speakers over two days denounce the U.S. action. Some called it an example of gunboat diplomacy.
The U.S.-installed government in Panama, meanwhile, apparently won a limited victory in a battle over U.N. credentials. In a compromise between the envoys representing the Noriega regime and the government of President Guillermo Endara, the Panamanian deputy envoy, Abadi, was allowed to speak after the vote.
Abadi, however, is a Noriega appointee and still holds credentials as alternate representative to the United Nations from the Noriega government. However, he switched sides and now supports the Endara government. Endara’s choice for U.N. envoy, Eduardo Vallarino, is not yet accredited to the world body.
In the debate Friday, Soviet Ambassador Alexander M. Belonogov told the assembly that ″the armed act of U.S. aggression against Panama is a challenge to the international community″ and a violation of international law and respect for the integrity of all states.
He called the U.S. invasion to unseat Noriega ″an act of open, international terrorism against a small and, in essence, a defenseless, state.″
Cuban Ambassador Oscar Oramas Oliva said the U.S. government has been harassing his country for years and financing mercenaries to destabilize Nicaragua. Now, in the same pattern, he said, it has invaded Panama.