213. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Panama1

78624. Subject: FMS cut.

1. With respect to House action today to eliminate FMS credits for Panama for FY1980, you should draw on the following in your discussions with GOP.2

2. Department was adamantly opposed to this action as it was to previous committee action reducing 1980 level by 50 percent. To the extent that this latest action was based on human rights considerations, it was completely unjustified.

3. You should make clear that this is not essentially an action taken on human rights grounds, but rather one that was unfortunately used by treaty opponents for their own purposes.

4. The Department will seek vigorously to restore all or at least part of these credits, with best opportunity to do this arising in eventual Senate/House Conference Committee action.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790145–0474. Limited Official Use; Niact Immediate. Drafted by Haahr and approved in ARA, H, and HA.
  2. In telegram 2383 from Panama City, March 30, the Embassy reported that Panamanians were distressed by the House’s elimination of FMS credits for Panama for FY 1980 from the House appropriations bill, but that the full extent of the negative reaction was not yet known and communicating with the Panamanians was proving difficult. (Department of State, American Embassy Panama, Classified and Unclassified Political Subject Files, 1979–1980, Lot 83F67, Box 33, DEF 19) In telegram 2418 from Panama City, April 2, the Embassy concluded that the Panamanians’ restrained reaction indicated that Torrijos had decided, for the moment, to keep the issue low profile to avoid giving treaty opponents any target. (Ibid.)