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     Latin America is a hot potato. The ferocious civil war in Colombia, the heartland of the Americas, has been publicized, but neither party has taken a clear stand. Now Panama, once part of Colombia, is being dragged in. It has sent 2,000 security forces to the border with Colombia.
     The United States is due to hand over the Canal the end of the year. The American military are concerned. The National Security Center, closely affiliated with them, has published a series of books on Panama, the latest, by its president Richard A. Delgaudio, entitled Peril in Panama ( 1998). It stresses the role of China in Panama, which is little discussed in the Cox report on Chinese espionage.
     Admittedly this account is not impartial, but it reflects the thinking of many U.S. military. Genral Charles Wilhelm, chef of the U.S. Southern Command, says "We are mindful of our obligation to intervene, either co-operatively with the Panamenians, or unilaterally if the conditions dictate." Perhaps he said this to leave no doubt as to U.S. intentions. Let us hope it serves as a deterrent.

Ronald Hilton - 07/22/99