CONSEQUENCES OF THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT REMON OF PANAMA

Created: 1/11/1955

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SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

CONSEQUENCES OF THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT REMON OF PANAMA

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DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

The following organizations participated In the preparation of this estimate: The Central intelligence Agency and the Intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

Concurred In by the INTELLIGENCE ADVISORY. COMMITTEE

on ll Januaryoncurring icere the Special Assistant, intelligence. Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff,Department of the Army; the Director of Navel Intelligence; the Director of intelligence, USAF; and the Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative toC and the Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of investigation, abstained, the tubfect being outside of their jurisdiction.

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CONSEQUENCES OF THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT REMON OF PANAMA

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the probable short-term consequences of the assassination ofRemon with reference to: (a) internal stability of Panama and the Caribbean area; (b) international relations In the Caribbean area; and <c) relations between Panama and the United States.

CONCLUSIONS

death will not significantly affect the fundamental relationshipthe United States and Republic of Panama, but will almost certainly set off troublesome developments both inand In the Caribbean area.

Gulzado. Remon's successor asof Panama, lacks Remon's political stature. His regime will probably be markedtruggle foronsequent revival of the family and factional politics traditional in Panama.

The rulers of the Caribbean republics, increasingly concerned for their personal safety, will probably adopt moremeasures against their politicalSomoza (Nicaragua) and Perez Jimenez (Venezuela) will probablytheir clandestine efforts to eliminate Figueres (Costahom they regard as the focal point of revolutionary leftist movements in the area. They are not likely to be deterred by Figueres' appeal to the Organization of American states, but will take care to avoid the appearance of direct intervention. Figueres willto press the United States foragainst external threats to his security.

DISCUSSION

The identity and motivation of theof President Jose Antonio Remon have not as yet been established. Tliecould have been politically motivated, but lt could as well have been related to Remon's private life, orehind-the-scenes struggle for the control of lucrative businessIn any case, the assassination willcertainly have troublesome domestic and regional repercussions.

be Panamanian authorities haveacted on the suspicion that Remon's assassination may have been Instigated by Arnulfo Arias, whom Remon deposed from the presidency of Panamand the fear that, in any case. Arias might become apoint for revolutionary action. They have arrested Arias; most of the others arrested to date have had some connection with him. Ariasercurial character who has been

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ui almost every plot against the government ln recent tunes. There was.no apparent attemptoup inwith the assassination, nor has there yet appeared any tangible evidenceArias lit the crime. His arrest, therefore, appears to bo entirely presumptive and

The assassination will adversely affectstability in Panama. Remon was the country's dominant political figure. Although he achieved power through control of thePolice (now called the Nationale later, as constitutionally elected president, succeeded In buildingarge popularThroughout his administration he paid greater attention to democratic forms than had any of his recent predecessors- Heocial and economic programtoward all sectors of the population. The treaty he negotiated with the USyet unsigned -brings Important concessions to Panama and had already enhanced Remon's popular position.

Joseuisado, the first vicehas been sworn in as Remon's successor. The National Guard, the only armed force of Panama, has decided to support him, for the time being at least. However, Col. Vallarino, commandant ol the Guard, and Lt. Col. Blares, deputy commandant, do not trust Gulzado. They appeartntly fear that he might laterwith Arnulfbta elements to break their control of the Guard and possibly to restore Arnulfo Arias to the presidency If convinced thatoup was in tlie making, they would displace Gulzado, probably In favor of Ricardo Arias, the second vice president, whom they regard as their friend.

Gulzado lacks the political stature of Remon and may not be able to control the situation throughout his term in office (until. The political coalition which Remon had formed is likely to dissolve into personal factions contending for leadership,onsequent revival of traditional family and factional politics. As In the past, the stability of the government will depend an the continued support of the National Guard and control of the Guard will bo the key to the political situation. Within the Guard, differences may develop between Vallarino and Plores. Of the two. Florcs Is the stronger character, with probably greater command over the loyalty of the rank and file.the fact that Floreaegro is apolitical handicap which wouldconfine him, at least Initially, to the role of kingmaker.

Panamanian politics maychaotic, It Is not likely thatanti-US group could tainto setae control of the country.are not strong numericallybeen closely circumscribed byagainst them during the Remon

The assassination of Remon. following the attempt (Ino assassinate President Somoza of Nicaragua, will cause the more authoritarian rulers In the Caribbean area (Somoza, Perez Jimenez ln Venezuela, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, and Castillo Armas In Guatemala) to be increasingly concerned regarding their personal safety. They may be expected to take action designed to tighten their personal control over their respective countries and to adopt even more repressive measures against opposition elements than those currently in effect

The assassination of Remon will heighten existing international tensions In thearea. It coincides with an Increasing Tolume of reports of an Impendingattempt against tlie Figueres regime in Costa Rica, with Venezuelan andsupport. Remon was generallywith the authoritarian alignmentNicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, and the Dominicanarticularly withSomoza and Perez Jimenez will make every effort to link the murder of Remon with the attempt to assassinate Somoza and to attribute it to an "international leftistinvolving President Figueres of Costa Rica and exiles from Venezuela. Nicaragua, Cuba, and tlie Dominican Republic. Reports to this effect from Venezuelan and Nicaraguan sources have already begun to circulate.

and Perez Jimenez will probably redouble their efforts to convince the United States that an "international leftistthreatens stability and security In the Caribbean, and that the murder of Rem on presages an Intensification of subversivethroughout the area. They will direct such charges primarily against Flgueres, whom they dislike because of his assistance to and friendship for exiled groups mid his bitter condemnation of dictatorships, notably those of Nicaragua and Venezuela, and whom they denounceommunist.

Somoza and Perez Jimenez will probably argue that US "restraints" on them havethem from taking effective action against subversive elements in the region. They will cite the murder of Remon asew argumente-examination of this US attitude. They will in effect demand that the US either take such action in tho area as would assure their security or giveree hand in dealing with those persons and movements that, in their opinion, threaten regional stability.

Hitherto, the assassination of chiefs of state has not been an accepted mode ofpolitical warfare. If Bemon'swas in (act the result of an International conspiracy (which has not beenhis. In conjunction with the attempt toSumoza, might indicate that opposition elements in the Caribbean haveethod of political action. Shouldattern be established, the Caribbean governments would respond withviolencearked deterioration In Caribbean political practices would have set in.

The events in Panama are likely tothe already difficult position of Jos6 Figuercs in Costa Rica. He has formallyaction by the Organization ofStates to restrain Nicaragua. At its meeting onanuary the Council of the OAS postponed action untilh, but called on both Costa Rica and Nicaragua to avoid In the meantime any step which would aggravate the existing situation.Somoza and Peres Jimenez are likely to intensify their efforts to eliminate Flgucres by providing further clandestine support to Costa Rlcan exiles and by encouragingelements within Costa Rica, although they will take care to avoid the appearance of direct intervention. Figuercs will continue to press for US protection against external threats to his security.

It is not likely that relations between the United States and Panama will beaffected by the assassination of Remon. The still unsigned treaty may become an issue in Panamanian politics, but its eventual acceptance by Panama will not be seriously endangered, It is likely also that thepolitical situation created by the murder of Remon will again inject local politics into relations between the US and Panama. There is small chance, however, that these Irritants will Importantly affect US security interests in Panama.

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