Cablegate: Panama's Fm Arias Noncommittal On Request To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001704



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2014

REF: STATE 139422

Classified By: DCM Christopher J. McMullen for reasons 1.4 b & d

1. (C) DCM, accompanied by Polcouns, delivered reftel
talking points to Panamanian Foreign Minister Harmodio Arias
Cerjack on June 30, 2004. With two months left for this
government, Arias was (not surprisingly) noncommittal on
whether the GOP would be willing to accept protected Cuban
and Haitian migrants for resettlement. Arias said he would
have to discuss the matter with President Moscoso and Foreign
Minister-designate Samuel Lewis Navarro before offering a
definitive reply.

2. (SBU) Comment: President Moscoso and FM Arias will likely
leave this decision to President-elect Martin Torrijos when
he takes office on September 1. For our part, we have
serious concerns about Panama's ability (both the GOP and the
local NGO community) to provide the necessary follow-on
support that is required for successful resettlement. We
continue to grapple with major obstacles in the case of Ramon
Aguilar Hernandez, whose status remains unresolved, despite
repeated Embassy demarches on his behalf. Panama granted
Aguilar asylum on July 8, 2003, but GOP stonewalling delayed
his actual arrival in Panama until March 2004. Since his
arrival. the Embassy and the local chapter of CARITAS have
been struggling to complete Aguilar's resettlement. Aguilar
still has no work permit despite repeated GOP promises and
countless Embassy interventions with senior GOP
decision-makers over the past three months. (Note: DCM
raised this problem again on June 30 with FM Arias, who again
promised to try to resolve Aguilar's work permit request with
the Minister of Labor. End Note.)

3. (SBU) In addition to the GOP's bureaucratic inefficiency
and inexplicable obstructionism, Aguilar's travails also
highlight the fact that Panama's NGO community has no real
capacity to assist with resettlement cases. CARITAS, the
only NGO willing to sponsor Aguilar, has told Embassy in no
uncertain terms that it will never take on another
resettlement case. Meanwhile, Aguilar is running out of
money and CARITAS is bitter, exhausted, and frustrated.
Based on this experience, Embassy has deep reservations about
the efficacy of trying to resettle any migrants in Panama,
even if the GOP were to give the green light - a decision
that will likely not be made for months.


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