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Panama Breaks Off Relations with U.S.

Jan. 10, 1964 - After 24 hours of mob violence punctuated by deadly rifle, pistol, and machine gun fire, Panama broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. today. With riotous mobs of Panamanians battling U.S. troops along the border of the Canal Zone and wrecking U.S. buildings and cars, President Roberto Chiari threatened to renounce the treaties giving the U.S. use of the Canal Zone. Three American soldiers and 17 Panamanians were reported killed and 34 Americans and 200 Panamanians wounded in the flareup of long-smoldering Panamanian resentment against U.S. sovereignty in the Canal Zone. Sparked by the action of American high school students yesterday afternoon of tearing down a Panamanian flag in front of the Balboa High School, the violence raged along the Canal Zone from Panama City, on the Pacific end, to Colon, at the Atlantic end. The U.S. embassy, threatened by a heavy-drinking street mob, was evacuated. Embassy officials burned classified materials and destroyed official codes and communications before leaving, presumably for the protection of the Canal Zone. At Colon, the U.S. consulate was destroyed by a mob, as was the American YMCA building in that city. Evacuation of both the embassy and the U.S. Consulate at Colon were ordered by the Panamanian National Guard, which has been protecting them. Burned out by torches and Molotov cocktails used by the roaming rioters were the seven-story Pan Am Building, the U.S. Information Service office, and the office of Goodyear and Braniff Airlines.


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