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Accord Reached on Panama Canal Zone

Jan. 12, 1964 - Inter-American peacemakers reached accord tonight on a five-man mixed commission to restore calm to the troubled Panama Canal Zone. Thomas C. Mann, President Johnson’s top Latin American adviser, sent to Panama City to help ease the crisis, was reported planning to leave for Washington shortly before noon tomorrow. The U.S.-Panama Organization of American States group will be responsible for patrolling the border along the U.S.-controlled Canal one where 26 persons, including four American soldiers, have been killed since Thursday night. Details of how the group would function and whether it would use troops from both countries for patrolling were yet to be worked out. Meanwhile, Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance agreed to a Panamanian Government request to remain in Panama for a possible meeting tomorrow morning with Panamanian officials. Panama City appeared relatively calm tonight, but tension still remained from four days of rioting and bloodshed.

Despite the optimistic atmosphere surrounding the diplomatic talks, violence continued. During the day, Panamanian snipers opened fire on U.S. troops in the Canal one from positions in Panama City’s mob-wrecked Pan American Building. In Colon, on the other side of the isthmus, Panamanian snipers attacked U.S. troops with rifles and Molotov cocktails. In Washington, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said today the U.S. would not withdraw from the Panama Canal Zone or give up its military base there. Noting the rapid appearance of large crowds and many Molotov cocktails at the scenes of friction, Rusk said: “Undoubtedly, Castro and agents of Castro who have been moving in and out of other countries in the Caribbean area have taken a direct hand in this in one way or another. I think Castro has some responsibility for this.”


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