125. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

Torrijos’ Letter to Byrd. General Torrijos has sent a letter to Senator Robert Byrd informing him that two laws which provide for summary administrative trials with prison sentences of up to 15 years have been abrogated and that he will discuss with the Panama Journalists Union the abrogation of a decree which limits press freedom in Panama.2

Torrijos promised these measures during a discussion on human rights with Byrd’s delegation in November.3 Torrijos’ letter states: “I am keeping my word. Please convey this to your colleagues whom I dearly trust.” Byrd was reportedly delighted with the letter. He inserted it into the Congressional Record and made it available to the press this afternoon.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 19, Evening Reports (State), 12/77. Secret. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum and wrote: “Warren.”
  2. Carter wrote in the left margin: “He (Torrijos) sent me a copy last week—It’s a good move.”
  3. See footnote 4, Document 119.
  4. For the text of the letter and comments by Byrd on developments in Panama, see Congressional Record, vol. 123, pt. 30, December 6, 1977, to December 15, 1977, p. 38656.