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Cablegate: Panamanian Ambassador Discusses Regional Issues

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #0235 0572150
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 262150Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9089
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

...C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 000235

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2013
TAGS: PGOV PREL ES PM
SUBJECT: PANAMANIAN AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES REGIONAL ISSUES


Classified By: Ambassador Charles L. Glazer, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Glazer met with Luis Enrique
Torres, Panamanian Ambassador to El Salvador to exchange
views on regional issues including foreign investment,
elections, and public security. Ambassador Torres expressed
his concern over possible violence in the upcoming 2009
Salvadoran elections and expressed Panama's interest in
helping to combat transnational crime. End Summary.

2. (U) On February 12, Ambassador Glazer received a courtesy
call from Luis Enrique Torres Herrera, Panama's Ambassador to
El Salvador. During their meeting the two Ambassadors
exchanged views on public safety, foreign investment, and the
upcoming Salvadoran national elections.

3. (C) According to Torres, El Salvador remains relatively
unattractive to foreign investment. He argued that
corruption in the judicial system and in the government at
large must be addressed before foreign investors will have
the required confidence to make significant investments in
the country.

4. (C) Torres was very concerned about 2009 Salvadoran
elections and their possible aftermath. He fears the outbreak
of violence from extremist elements on both ends of the
political spectrum. While he did not identify specific
organizations or individuals, he clearly believes that
radical political cells and even paramilitary organizations
could incite violence and try to radicalize more moderate
elements of civil society.

5. (C) On the issue of public safety, Ambassador Torres
maintained that Panama does not face the same problems of
gang violence and organized crime that confront El Salvador
and many other Central American countries. He added,
however, that Panama has an interest in "lending a hand" in
the fight against organized crime in order to contain the
problem and keep it from reaching Panama. He was
particularly interested in the programs hosted by the
International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in El Salvador
and asked how Panama could support ILEA and participate in
its programs. (Note: Panamanian students have participated in
ILEA training from the outset. End note.) Torres said that
Panama would like to help El Salvador and its other Central
American neighbors, but emphasized that Panama will maintain
a "hands off" approach and has no desire to intervene in the
internal politics of other Central American nations.

6. (SBU) Comment: Ambassador Torres' interest in regional
security is encouraging; we will look to build on his
interest to encourage further support for regional security
initiatives under the Merida initiative. We plan to invite
Torres to visit the ILEA facility in Santa Tecla and look for
opportunities to continue engaging the Panamanian
representative in a security dialogue. End Comment.
GLAZER

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