"The United States seems to insist on its pretensions to install military bases in Panama, under the pretext of the fight against drug trafficking," warn the University of Panama professors (UP) in an open letter published on Wednesday by the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá.
Above all, the professors express their great concern for the agreement signed on February 10 between their country and the U.S. for the creation of the Regional Center for Air Naval Operations (Croan) - a body composed of different Panamanian security agencies that count on the training of U.S. military personnel - warning that the pact endorses the return of the U.S. military presence in Panama.
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"With this background, it seems that the Croan is a new attempt to militarize the country, disguised as the fight against drug trafficking and in contravention of US international commitments to Panama," they say.
In the text, they denounce that Panamanian authorities did not consult the Croan creation with the National Assembly and stress that the issue contradicts the nature of a demilitarized state.
The educators reiterate that "this is not the first disguised attempt for the reestablishment of military bases," since, previously, "an attempt was made with the failed Multilateral Anti-Drug Center (CMA)," which implied the presence of U.S. military forces in Panamanian territory.
Different sectors in Panama have denounced the decision to sign a memorandum with the U.S., which expresses the U.S. Army's collaboration and several agencies of that country in the supposed fight against drug trafficking.
In addition to constituting a possible violation of the Treaty Concerning the Neutrality of the Panama Canal and the Constitution itself, this regional center is questioned for turning the Central American country into a potential military target.
The establishment of the aforementioned Croan is expected to begin during the first semester of this year.