US drug trafficking report cites Panama
Panama has failed to take sufficient measures to control drug trafficking, the State Department said Tuesday in its second annual report on international narcotics control. ``Some US law enforcement authorities believe that Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega and the Panamanian defense forces cooperate only when it is in their interest to do so, and that full cooperation with the current regime in Panama is simply not possible,'' the report said.
President Reagan has ``decertified'' Panama as a cooperative state in fighting drugs, in light of the indictments last month of Noriega on drug trafficking charges, said the State Department's Ann Wrobleski at a press conference.
Congress now has 45 days to overturn the decertification decision, which requires the US to levy economic sanctions against Panama. The sanctions, however, are expected to have limited impact because of other recent US sanctions.
Mexico and Colombia were spared decertification as some had demanded. In its justification for certification of Mexico, a major drug producing and transit country, the White House stated that it believes Mexico is capable of much more than it is doing in narcotics control, but that ``important bilateral and multilateral considerations ... will be placed at risk should certification be denied....''
On justifying certification for Colombia, the US stated its desire to be helpful to a government which is virtually under siege by drug traffickers. The White House decided to certify Laos, Lebanon, and Paraguay, but only because of vital national interests of the US.