436. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 84–67


The Problem

To consider the prospect for political stability and for the Canal treaties between now and the scheduled inauguration of a new president in October 1968.


Increased tension and political turbulence are likely as the presidential campaign and the issue of new Canal treaties impinge on a situation none too stable in the first place.
The small number of elite families, long in political and economic control, may be hard pressed in the elections of May 1968 to keep one of their own in the presidency and to retain dominance of the National Assembly. The challenge will come from Arnulfo Arias, whose anti-elite Panameñista Party is the country’s only mass movement. The danger of serious disorders will probably become somewhat greater than at present, and could become much greater.
Although there are a great many important political variables in Panama, the timing of the completion of the treaty negotiations will be a crucial factor in determining the extent of political unrest as well as the chances for ratification and implementation of the treaties.
In view of such uncertainties on the political scene, there will clearly be major problems in getting the Canal treaties completed, ratified, and then held to by the government succeeding that of President Robles. Unless the treaties are ratified before October 1967, there is small chance of getting satisfactory treaties completed until after a new administration takes office in October 1968.

[Here follows the 8-page Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Agency. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on May 4.