What Living in Panama in 1989 Meant to Us...

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What Living in Panama in 1989 Meant to Us...
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Cairns, Barbara L.
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Beginning with last year's holiday season up to the
present time, lots of things have happened in Panama.

DECEMBER 1988
Painted wooden cut-out figures ridiculing.
President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Ambassador to Panama,
Arthur Davis, decorated the front lawn of the PDF (Panama.,
DefenseForces) station in Balboa during the holiday season. ....


We had moved from Balboa a year before to
Panama City in an area called Los Angeles. Our apartment was
spacious (over 3000 sq. ft.), with a panoramic view of the ,
city and bay. Our neighbors included a Panamanian lawyer, a
retired Austrian pychiatrist,, an Ambassador to Cypress, a
Panamanian sculptor and painter, and a Colonel in the Panama
Defense Forces.
I was assistant principal at Curundu elementary School
with over 800 students and a staff of 50,. and Ian had his
International Resources office in our home, complete with
the frustrations *of intermittent phone and fax serViCe due
to breakdowns in utilities. We also had the "fun" of no.
water or electricity at times, indeed a big difference from,
when we lived in the former Canal Zone Area. Muffin, our
brown poodle was adjusting nicely to her new surroundings, ..
despite her gradual loss of eyesight.

JANUARY 1989 ...
PDF stops issuing stickers for U.S. owned
vehicles. At about 1 P.M. January 24, the PDF refused to
issue 1989 vehicle inspection decals to all U.S. citizens
who own duty-free vehicles. Without the de cal, U.S.
personnel are unable to purchase 1989 Panamanian license
plates.SOUTHCOM officials state that this is another obvious
effort by the Panamanian Defense Forces to. harass U.S.
personnel living in Panama. A previous incident ,.was the
delay of U.S. mail service.

At this time, we were bowling in a Wednesday night
league at the Curundu Lanes in an area of coordination (off
base, but protected by Americans as part of the old Canal
Zone) Due to numerous robberies in this area, roadblocks had
been placed in strategic areas by U.S. to provide better
security with fewer access routes into Curundu. Only after
U.S. removed these concrete barriers did the PDF allow U.S.
personnel to get the above-mentioned stickers. Panamanian
personnel working for the U.S. Government (Panama Canal
Commission controlling the Panama Canal) still do not have ...
their vehicles registered because PDF won't allow them to
get their special paperwork, so they have had to rely on-
buses or other transportation all year. No one knows when
they will stop being penalized for working for PC....
probably when we all leave here and then they won't be able
to get jobs anyway. It's very sad for these people.


We continued to bowl our averages (150+ for me, 160 for
Ian) in the Best Friends Bowling League. We counted our
blessings that we've had Myrtle with us for a year now. She
replaced our other cook and housekeeper. Yes, we admit we're
spoiled- in some respects down here.

FEBRUARY 1989
General Fred Woerner, our top military
officer in Latin America and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S.
Southern Command said he believed the U.S. should be
seriously debating what to do ahead of a variety of possible
scenarios that might result from May 7th presidential
elections. We ought to know what we plan to do in the event
of a reasonable honest election, of a grossly dishonest
election, of a postponed election, or any other scenario. We
are frankly ill-prepared to do that in the absence of an
appointment of an assistant secretary of state for Latin
America affairs. Until we get that position filled and the


debate can commence, I offer you little hope for
articulated policy. "


an


. f- 4, Q- .I & A9.


WHAT LIVING IN PANAMA IN 1989 MEANT TO US...




r


Fred is we4l respected by most of us here in the
military community. He is also well-liked. He has attended
our Pen Women art shows to lend his support and has been
very active in the community, besides being :A Soldier's
Soldier" for his troops. Unfortunately, the Bush
Administration did not like his comments and so later this
year he was relieved of his command. All of us here have
suffered the consequences of decisions made by new military
personnel who do not understand the people do not
appreciate the ."total picture" in Panama and who do not have
the background for the kinds of decisions now being made.We
were all hoping for something better in the Bush
Administration to get rid of Noriega, not*to oust Americans
instead. Oh well, we continued with our daily lives in.
February, despite restrictions and feeling somewhat-
confined. I celebrated my 52nd birthday this month and Muff
had her 13th. Ian had to wait until July *for his up in
Connecticut.

MARCH 1989 ...
PDF illegally detains school buses. Bomb.
threats are so routine at Balboa H.S. that school officials
have asked teachers to prepare bomb threat lesson plans for
the football field. The escalation of violence against.
American forces in Panama may require the removal of all
military dependents from the country, says Secretary of
State James Baker.Thousands of Panamanians marched through
the streets of Panama City demanding an end to the de facto
rule of military strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. "

These were "tricky" times.Sometimes Our kids came late
to school because buses were delayed. The bomb threats moved
to other schools, including ours. One day, they brought in
the bomb-sniffing dogs after the school was emptied and
searched until just minutes before a downpour which would
have drenched everyone waiting outside.When it rains in,
Panama, as in all tropical areas, the word "drizzle" doesn't
exist. It can clear up just as fast, but in'rainy season, it.
can last for hours at a time.It sounds great on the tile
roof. Many incidents of harassment were reported and while
I was acting principal, I allowed one of our teachers
married to a Panamanian for the Opposition to bring her
kindergarten-age child to our school as she and her family
were changing houses every night, afraid to stay home as the
brother-in-law had been arrested and jailed. This kind of
thing goes on a lot with those who are demonstrating against
Noriega, but only a few are married to our teachers.
Ian was asked to negotiate a 40,000 acre, Panamanian
land deal with a U.S. corporation during this period, but
refused to handle it when he discovered Noriega's people
might be involved. Keeping teachers' spirits up during
stressful times is a challenge. Last year about this time,
my first year as assistant principal, the principal was away
too, so I figure I can put down crisis management on any
future resume!


APRIL 1989 ...

The American citizen Kurt F. Muse, with residence in
Panama, was detained on Wednesday, April 5th at the Omar
Torrijos International Airport when he was returning from
Miami,in which he was involved in activities which attempt
against the internal security of the State. Panama's
cash-strapped government has come up with some unique ways
to pay civil servants, including IOU's and a lottery. "

Kurt Muse is a friend, husband of a teacher here. As of
this writing,(December 1989), he is still in jail, has lost
40 pounds, is kept in solitary confinement, but is allowed
to s nd mail that is censored, and has survived the coup
thae An the area where he is jailed.His wife and children,
sister and brother-in-law have all gone to the U.S.His
mother who works for the Army is now on base. She and her
husband left their home downtown.We all wonder why the
Americans have not done more to gain his release.






The government workers in Panama have it really bad.
They now have to wait months to get paid hoping their name
// will come up in the lottery system Noriega has devised.They
also are forced to -march if his rallys or be fired from
their jobs. Meanwhile, retired Panamanian U.S. Government
workers for P.C.C. still are being paid at my school every
month while armed military vehicles and Meddac teams stand
by to treat those who suffer from heat stroke after standing
many hours in long lines in the tropical sun. Panama won't
acknowledge their U.S. checks in their banks.
Our lives carry om pretty much as usual, despite minor.,;J
stresses caused by everything happening around us. We'
celebrated 18 years of marriage this month, but did not go.
out downtown)as many restaurants and hotels are now being'
operated by Noriega-backed drug money,. so we :all avoid,-,, .,:,
adding to his profiteering.Instead, we stayed home-and were {,,,.
thankful we had water and electricity, that the phone and
fax-machine were working and that we were well-stocked withl'd f.,
BETA videos.This kind of experience prepares you for'-. ''
handling crises and helps you to appreciate the everyday,. -ji !
basics in life. It's truly a humbling experience. 7 '

MAY 1989

George Bush not only inherited the Rose Garden,:'.
the dog kennel, the bullet-proof limo and the teleprompter'?Y,.i"
from Ronald Reagan, Ron also left George a sticky riddle:-<:
How do you get rid of a Panamanian dictator who doesn't wantii:'ii
to go ? ...But now, on Bush's watch, the' Panamanian>'
muscleman is as arrogantly nasty as ever. He held a phony I
election onMay 7, then had his goons, the exquisitely-named.,''
"Dignity Battalion" smash the opposition bloody with'
crowbars. ""*. I

And so it goes. Nothing has changed since this al"l
started in 1987, except that Noriega is stronger -vand those- t'fI
who opposed him are being tortured in his prisons.
Bush's extra troops down here are being housed in,!i,
plastic air-conditioned "Bubbles" that hold 1000 men each,
plus many expandable 10- man units. The "Freedom Bird "; K,
flights from the U.S. military base used to run 1 flight a"
week. This month, they're running at least sevIh bringing,' "
soldiers in and taking families out-.
The May 7th elections were a complete fraud as U.S. ,
news pointed out to the world. Just prior to elections, to
keep people from getting to the polls "and to provide general.
harassment, road blocks were put up by PDF all over the
city, leaving only one access route into the Panama Canalj
Area and to the Panama Canal. Dedicated Panamanian Can~l :
workers walked for miles to get to their jobs and to keep...
the canal operating. During this time, U.S. military(;,.
commanders started Blade Jewel ", aneacaio rorm
that moved families out so quickly that many could not pack:0'
up their own Tm Goods. It was very stressful for many of our!; i
dependents whose husbands were out of country and they had.i'
to leave on the next "Freedom Bird ".When Ian heard the news .
that DOD personnel had to get on bases within 24 hours and.
could not return to their homes downtown, he hastily packed
a suitcase and brought it over to school so I could Stay at'
my SAFE HAVEN. For the first time, my stomach did flip-flops
a thoughts of never seeing our little dog or my home again.
Ian as a 3rd party national notified the British embassy of
his whereabouts. He returned to our home and Muff in)via the
only route, going through the worst area of Panama City to
get back. Awful thought raced through our heads as we were
both afraid to voice them, things like," What do we do about
Muffin 7 We had never wanted to subject her to the stress of
flying to the states, and especially now when she's losing
her eyesight and everything is strange for her. We'd always
thought she would one day be with her mother out behind the.,
veterinary hospital in Corozal, but now things were'
happen ing so fast ... What things would we be allowed to .
take with us 7 How do you decide to leave other people in
charge of your things in case both of us were forced to
evacuate ? And what if Ian could stay ? Did I really want
him to stay behind to pack us out ? What if they closed the
last access into the U.S. area and he was stranded in Panama

City?





Other questions we have ... What about our Panamanian
housekeeper, Myrtle ? How will she get another job if-all
the Americans leave ? What about our own jobs ? Would we
have to ask our renters in North Miami Beach to move out
early so we'd have a'place to live ? Blade Jewel code
name for getting all of us Americans living downtown onto
U.S. bases is now in effect. According to Bush, all of us.
will be on bases or in areas of coordination by July 1st.
Most of us think this is a drastic move and not at all
necessary. Things like this have happened before, but they
always quiet back down very quickly and life goes on as
normal. There are a lot of unhappy people right now. Dr.
Wolf, DODDS-Panam Director has been holding meetings almost C
daily to update educators on the latest available
information... People who went to Safe Havens are still
there or most of them. I stayed with friends for 3 days, but
as soon as road blocks came down I returned home, only 10
minutes away from school. Some folks bought homes in Panama
and now they may have to leave them to the banks down
here.We are thankful we changed our minds on that one.Some
people are retiring earlier tlan planned.Some teachers are
getting put in quarters with other teachers, three to an
apartment and have the added worry of whose furniture to
store, who's in charge of paying the phone ,bill, how many
pets can live together peacefully etc.etc.
Back home in the Los Angeles area of the city, our only
English T.V. channel is being "jammed" during news
broadcasts as many Panamanians watch channel 8, especially
now when the Panamanian government has closed down all but
their own-run radio and T.V. stations. They give the people i
only what they want them to hear. Our neighbors are all
upset because of the way the election went. After banging
their pots and pans and celebrating when they knew the
opposition had won, now, it's back to Noriega and his
military rule.
Ian stayed at our house during the whole time to be
with Muff, but also to be able to conduct business as long
as possible.His overseas contacts have been sending lots of
personal calls as well as business negotiations these days,.
making sure he's okay.After a "hairy" week or so, things are
pretty much back to normal, except our move onto base. We
have lucked out. I have been offered a principalship on the
Atlantic side of the Isthmus, about 50 miles away. It means
getting to stay here next~year and also having a nice house.
Compared to many who are being uprooted, we feel very !
fortunate. Ian can still run his office from our home
because it's big enough~and his fax machine can be set up
anywhere.
Some of our Host Nation people have been harassed by.
PDF who arrest them for having a copy of the Tropic Times, ,
the U.S. military newspaper in their cars.Mostly, they are
fined rather than jailed, although we've heard of a cOuple "
of P.C.C. employees who were jailed overnight.. Ii;
Subversive material, you see ...Everyone feels a little)',.


safer seeing the additional troops coming into Howard AFB. '
Our school has turned into a hotel with staff and their, -. j
families and pets staying overnight, rather than.
inconvenience friends for too long in their SAFE
HAVENS.Sponsors can go back to their homes downtown to look
after things, but dependents are not allowed. Luckily for
us,I'm the sponsor and Ian is not a U.S. citizen, so we
continue to stay in our home until we get our new housing
assigmnment. At this point, we are thankful that we do not
have to pay out to the landlord, as we had signed a 4-year
lease at $1300.00 per month, thinking this would be our last
move in Panama. Because we're being forced to move due to
Bush's edict, we won't be held responsible. The U.S.
government was paying about $1000.00 of that amount each
month as LQACLiving Quarters Allowance).
Ian is now missing his newspapers. No more Miami
Heralds until they can get them rerouted through Howard
AFB.No more mail service through Panama's Airport.One day in
our retirement,I feel sure he'll have copies of every
newspaper he can and will be in his glory, reading them from
cover to cover.Naturally, he misses the Monday Business
edition the most.
Teachers are being asked to leave their summer
addresses and phone numbers in case they decide to leave
early before housing assignments are given out.








School. has been closed for the kids a month
Kearly.Teachers have worked hard to get assignments prepared
for them to take on to their new locations. Families are
moving out every day, making room on bases for teachers to
move into, so that next school yearwe'll have plenty of
teachers, but no kids to teach The Army is doin'what it's
been told, but many do not see the logic in this whole
relocation of Blade Jewel ".NTE's are under a lot of
stress. They are our Not To Exceed temporary hires who have
now lost their jobs a month earlier than their budgets
allowed. I will be staying on until June, closing down
school, working on the dreaded inventory, planning for my
new promotion, preparing guidelines for the new assistant
principal, and cleaning out closets at home: in preparation
for our next move. So far, we have lived in a 4-family
dwelling in Balboa, a concrete spacious duplex, in Ancon, a
cottage in Balboa, a wooden duplex in Balboa, and finally in
a lovely house in Panama City... all :,these were on the
Pacific side. Now, for the first time, we will live on a
military base and on the Atlantic side.At least when we do,
leave Panama for good, we can say we've lived on both' sides
of the Isthmus

JUNE 198.

The infamous San Miguelito stop light, by the
Roosevelt monument claimed another victim recently. The
doctor picking up four of his compatriots had to wait for a
green light. While he was waiting and trading pleasantries
with his friends, the ubiquitous window-washing urchins
descended like locusts. As the light turned green, two of
them opened the back door and grabbed a bag and ran. The
doctors didn't give chase because of all the traffic and the
speed of the grab, but they were probably lucky that they
didn't. A few months ago, someone did run after a thief who,
had grabbed something from the car, That man was robbed at
knife-point and lost a lot more from his person than he did
from his car. Of course, it probably wouldn't have happened
if the doors had all been locked. "

We have the little urchins around stop lights at our
area too, but if you keep the doors locked and windows up,
wave them away, and avid eye contact, it's not a big
problem. People are warned to keep their doors locked, but
they don't do it.People are very poor here and some of these
kids are quite innovative with their make-shift window
washing gear, trying to make a little money.
Unfortunately,some want more than that, so you just can't
take the chance of helping them out. It's very sad.'
This was a busy month for us. We moved to the' Atlantic
side to a 3-bedroom house onFt. Espinar Military base, a
dually-controlled base by U.S. and PDF. Crazy It's only 50 '


miles away, but due to huge potholes and crazy drivers, it,,
takes about 1 hours to travel from one side to the other,
including going through a beautiful tropical rain
forest.Panamanian police await along the way, trying to get',,
their quota of tickets each month. We feel very fortunate.'
Our house is 30 feet from the jungle, but well-lighted at
night with flood lights, and has a lovely view of Gatun
Lake.Not far away are the Gatun Locks, part of the Panama
lock system. Often we have gone to Miraflores Locks on the
Pacific side. Now, we can enjoy the other end of the canal
and all the beauty that it offers. It never ceases to amaze
either of us whenever we go to see a transit how huge and
magnificent it is. Over on this side, we can go to a
restaurant called the Tarpin Club which is right by a
spillway. Maybe we'll be lucky before we leave and get to
see when they open up all the gates at once. It's supposed,
to be more impressive then Niagara Falls during those spills
at Gatun.
We moved at the end of the month to get settled in
before a trip to Connecticut in July.Myrtle decided to come
over with us, so she travels back 'and forth by bus each
weekend and lives downstairs.She's an excellent cook and I
will miss her a lot when we finally have to leave Panama.She
loves animals, so Muffin gets spoiled as much by her as by
us.









JULY iq8 .

As the Panamanian crisis drifts on with
strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega continuing to ignore
U.S. attempts to dislodge him, the risk of military clash
grows. "
Seventy-four armored personnel carriers and' .
support vehicles kicked up dust as they roared out of Camp
Roadrunner Friday morning. Several minutes later, the Bridge
of the Americas shook as they crossed the bridge. In Balboa,
about 18 APC's left the column and headed to Ft. amador to
bolster security, while the remaining force continued to
hilbrook AFS to enhance security. The movement was part of
Purple Storm 22, a non-combatant evacuation operation
designed to show U.S. military families)the U.S. commitment
and ability to protect U.S. life and property) if necessary.
V
We spent July in Connecticut relaxing with friends and
family, shopping, eating out, Switching channels on the T.V.
and enjoying Nicholas, our newest'grand nephew and only one
on my side of the family.Then, one night Ian had ,severe.
chest pains which would not subside, so we rushed him to the..'
Putnam Hospital at 2 A.M. in the morning. There he stayed in
intensive care for two days, and in his own room for a few
more days.The doctors wanted to send him to Massachusetts
University Hospital for an angiogram, but due to the risk, K
they decided to put him on heart inedicine and have him
handcarry results of all testing back to his doctor in
Panama. Several years ago, Ian had suffered a silent heart
attack and since then, Dr. Motta and I have been trying to
get him to stop smoking. This summer's trip to the hospital
was a scarey one, enough for him to stop smoking cold
turkey. A later stress test this summer proved successful,
proving that the medicine and no smoking were helping a lot.
We were especially pleased when we got to celebrate Ian's
51st birthday with a small family surprise party. Two days
Later, we_ celebrated again -with friends atsthe old Vernon
Styles Inn. Nothing can beat an old New England hi- .for
atmosphere.

AUGUST 18 1 ....
More than 10 years ago, during the process of
ratifying the Panama Canal'Treaties, General Omar Torrijos ,
committed the government of Panama to the restoration of .
full democratic civilian rule by 1q89 The year' I715i ii
has been marred by the utter disregard for democratic~norms, :
civilized behavior, and most importantly, the wlli:of the
Panamanian people. r .I
Panamanian strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio ..


Noriega, in an apparent act of defiance, toward the U.S. led .:
a parade through part of a military base reserved for
American servicemen Monday. The incident at Ft. Amador, a
Panama military base) partly administered by the U.S. and
Panama, occurred during events marking the 8th anniversary
of the death of Panama leader, General Omar Torrijos. "
The Panama Canal, one of the world's great
engineering feats, marked its 75th anniversary Tuesday at a
critical point in its history, facing an uncertain political
outlook, financial austerity, and growing competition. The
U.S., which does not recognize the Noriega-controlled
government, has refused to hand over canal tolls since
March, 1 88, paying them into a U.S. escrow account.. "

We returned to Panama the first week of August where I
began my new job as principal of Ft. Gulick elementary
School. It seems a little strange bedause it's so small, but
a bit wonderful too. This year, with just under 200
students, I finally will know every student's name and can
do more of the projects I want to do as instructional leader
in my own school. Ian is now faced with the frustration of
trying to operate out of a military base where direct
dialing is not allowed overseas. It's no wonder he tried to
have a heart attack after all the stress he's endured with
International Resource Corp. this past year. But, he's able
to refrain from smoking through it all...









In our back yard, mother and baby sloths go through-
their antics for us ... V-E-R-Y ... S-L-O-W-L-Y., but fun to
watch with their little heads complete with painted-on grins
and chimpanzee-like bodies -in the papaya or rubber
trees.Parrots fly by in pairs, parakeets and hummingbirds
abound. Coatamundis visit along with armadillos and the,,,,,
howler monkeys call out from across the lake, sounding like',
"Gorillas in the Mist ".It's peaceful and quiet andi -
neighborly. One would never guess that all the awful things ij!i
are going on in this country until you see the, military i.
forces everywhdre.Just, yesterday, I called Ian to the
bathroom window ,where I had glanced 6ut hoping to see a iiJ
new kind of bird and instead had discovered.7 membersof the-,'
Special Forces (Wolfhounds are here now.) below the',, '
window... 3 standing by one of our cars looking at some'.
paperwork, 2 kneeling with guns pointed out toward the lake,
and 2 others standing with guns raised on the corner of the
cul-de-sac. Talk about feeling protected I They make regular
patrols around our area by the lake as the PDF force are
just down the road from us. So far, all seem harmonious and'
we hope it stays that way on Ft. Espinar..On our little
cul-de-sac are four houses, so it's very private.Special
Forces people are in one, but the husband is gone a lot to'
Honduras. In another is a Colonel and his orientaliwife and
in the 3rd are Bernie and Jean-Marie, the Navy Commander and
his wife.We had dreaded the thought of moving onto a base on;
the other side because of the closeness of quarters, but
this has become our favorite of all the places we've lived.-
in Panama. Ian gets to enjoy his yardwork and plantingbirds
of paradiseland orchids, etc. and everyday we see aineV kind
of bird or creature. The other day, it was the,- biggest
spider either of us had ever seen. People come here from all
over for birdwatching.
Lee Greenwood was just here at the Loft Theater, a
5-minute walk from our house.His song I'm proud to be an
American is very popular here.Later, Charley Pride is
scheduled for the troops. On this side, troops are billetedI
in the unused O.Club and in the library building. The people '.
on this base are very good about providing "Care" packages
of cookies, fish frys, meals now and then to help keep up
their morale. j i

SEPTEMBER 1 8q i"'-
President Bush hinted the U.S. may try to i i
apprehend Panama's military leader General Manuel Antonio i
Noriega and bring him to the U.S. to face drug trafficking
charges. Reflecting the confusion that exists in Panama,
Bush stressed it was not clear what would happen In the -
Central hmerican nation after September 1st, which is the


scheduled start of the '"new presidential term. The
presidential election in Panama early this year was riddled
with fraud. I reiterate that our argument is not with the
PDF; it is with Mr. Noriega himself/'Bush said, renewing. an '1
appeal to the Panamanian military to repudiate Noriega. '

It's September and Ian has decided he needs more
contacts off the base, so he now travels three days a week
over to the other side Io work in the office
there.Conference calls and direct calls are necessary to
contact. other brokers.Unfortunately, Colon, the city on the
Atlantic side off base, looks like a disaster area and
businesses have mostly closed except for the Free Zone here,
so having an office on this side is not a good idea.
At school, military folks stop by to see me all the
time. They remind me of "walking trees" with all their
hanging came1lage and faces painted all the colors of
nature.They now are informing me that we might have a mock
evacuation at my school.I'm now getting excited over their
possibility of a ride in a Chinook or Blackhawk helicopter I.
This is Hispanic Heritage Month and lots of things are
going on, both at school and in the community.It's always
fun to see the natives in their cultural dress and the 7
Indians with their molas and wood carvings. Their carvings
are much more primitive than my treasured "Goose Girl" from
O~eramegau in Germany.It's hard to believe we left Germany
17 years ago I
The way things are going, looks like this will be ouzc last year here.









.4 .~,,
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others from the Host Nation were literally jumping up and
down for joy and almost in tears when we thought he was
captured for good, at last. People in.Panama City and Colon,
government workers as well, were dancing in the stmts and
celebrating the wonderful news, in hopes that their country
could now be turned around. Then, just as quickly, it all
ended with news that he had been rescued after getting to a
phone and calling his loyalist troops in from the
interior.Even now, I find this hard to believe, but the
Panamanian people are very passive, certainly very different
from~say, the Chinese students we all witnessed on T.V. this
year.If they had it to do over, I daresay, there might be
some changes' next time. That, of course is why all of our
families are again leaving the area. We'll be next. When
there are no more American dependents for the U.S. to worry
about, then maybe they'll be more ready to step in also.
Now," Mad Max is going, overboard. Many of us have
gone through these bad times before and then life goes on as
though nothing has happened. He's even stopped people from
fishing out in Gatun Lake, has put us onIan 8 P.M. curfew,
has changed the PML codes, adding ECHO as the highest, so we
still can go to work and school~on designated routes with
escorts.Nothing is happening on thi side at all, so it just
seems a bit ridiculous to us all.


OCTOBER 1981 .
Panama's Manuel Noriega was rescued by
loyalists Tuesday after a 6-hour gun battle that began when
four cars of junior officers entered military headquarters
and trapped him." Panamanian opposition leader
Guillermo Ford said Tuesday that the coup attempt against
Manuel Noriega was a sign of hope. It is a step in the right
direction, another step in the fight toward democracy and it
means Noriega does not have absolute control of the, Defense
Forces. ".. Although Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega has
dodged another bullet, the arrests of 3 high-ranking
officers following the coup attempt' shows the deep division
in the force that he depends on for survival. "
In Congress, critics on both sides of the aisle said
U.S. soldiers should have pitched in to help the rebels who
tried to overthrow Noriega Tuesday, October 3rd. "
Mad Max makes life miserable in Panama. "

What a shame the coup failed. Everyone of us is feeling
the effects of it. At one point, Noriega was captured and
there was talk of turning him over to the U.S. troops, but
one of his top officers who was involved was the one who had
protected Noriega during the last coup attempt and so U.S.
forces were a bit skeptical, thinking it might be a
trap.Just as Fred Woerner said months ago, there needed to
be a plan, but there wasn't. And so three days after Maxwell
Thurman took over, he received no direct command from Bush
and Noriega talked his way out of it, later killing or
having the top former friend/officer killed instead. There
have been several others who have been reported killed since
the coup attempt. By not turning him over and just "thinking
they'd get him to step down and retire in Panama, his own
PDF men made an unwise decision and-many suffered the
consequences. Our former neighbor, the PDF Col. Wong is
still being held in jail because of his inVolvement, in the
coup.
One of my teachers taught English to adults a few years
back, including to some of the young PDF members, so she
became friends with some of them. Two of them were killed in
the coup attempt against Noriega and now the wife of one
keeps trying to cotact her. Military' Intelligence is
checking this out very''carefully in case her place. may be
bugged or the wife is being used to get information about "
that American friend ". Naturally the U.S. teacher is a bit
concerned. They keep a watch on her quarters just in case.
Ian was on the~ Pacific side where all this was
happening, so I was thankful when he got back on his side
safely. Mad Max ",as Thurman is now called put us into
DELTA which means "Stay put, no school, etc. We were already
in school when it happened.., went from lowest PML Personnel
Movement Limitations) ALPHA to highest DELTA with no
warning. I had a T.V. set wheeled into my office so I could
keep the staff updated on the latest Hour by hour, it
changed. At one point,the secretary a Panamanian and


77 17


jdwLA"k A&L.Mwki


U!j.







I must admit that Noriega, for the first time, looked
pale and shaken when he appeared on T.V, following the coup
attempt, but as usual, he rallied, started killing off those
who betrayed him, arrested others, and tortured many,
according to all reports. Our former neighbor, the PDF
Colonel, was one of the three high-ranking officers who had
tried to force Noriega out. As of this writing, he is still
jailed along with many others.
Our school buses are now being escorted by military
vehicles, causing delays and concern by parents who get a
little nervous seeing soldiers everywhere in full battle
gear while their kids board the buses.Everyone has to travel
via "blue routes" and are under curfew. We ...have to be on
base by 8:00p.m.
Ian's trips to the other side have been curtailed due to
travel restrictions, but he did go over twice this month to
Paitilla Hospital for follow-up tests after his hospital
stay this summer.His heart doctors, Motta and Gonzalez are
both very good. When the thallium radioactive test,, ,didn't
reveal enough, they ordered an angiogram,so I went: over to
be with him for that test.We ware so thankful that he does
not have to have theibypass we'd feared. Although he does
have one artery that is' completely blocked, the other
arteries are compensating and the doctors feel that his
medicine, plus the fact he's no longer smoking will help .We
had visions of going stateside or to England for surgery
after his first test results from Dr. Gonzalez.
Just to make life more interesting this month, there
was a bad accident which broke a water pipe nearby, so all
of Ft. Espinar(Gulick) was without water for a couple days.
We went to a party on one of those nights and we all joked
about either going to Ft. DavisCanother base) to shower or
going to the party dirty) to be with friends.A sense of humor
is handy during these times.And, after all, the phones were
halfway working; and the electricity was still $on In
Panama City, all would go out at once sometimes *
NOVEMBER 1ia18 .. We're thinking it's a good idea to leat)i..


PDF Aids Noriega Supporters to BlockRoads."
"A U.S. Marine re-inforced platoon of 10 light .armored ,
vehicles re-routed a scheduled road reconnaissance operation
Tuesday after PDF personnel allowed a group ofNoriega
regime supporters to block their passage near La Chorrera. K'i
The PDF had been previously notified the exercise would tak i
place and did not provide escort. ake.. '!
U.S. Forces tighten security on bases. i
I' ,
The above headlines portray a mall example 'of what
we're going through now. The security has definitely been K .
tightened on all bases, even over here on the Atlantic i
side.Much of it this month is not due to Noriega's "Dignity
Batalio",although they did march in to Ft. Espinar one
day to raise a new flag on this post, but rather due'to the i


fact there have been numerous bomb threats by Columbian drug
cartels.While we're glad our military is taking the
necessary precautions, it's made traveling the shortest
distances into a big headache for all of us.It reached a
point that everyone was blaming Mad Max" Thurman for it
all, just so we'd all be glad to leave when he boots us out
of here... And it's working ... No one likes stopping every
day to have the car thoroughly searched, including the gas
tank, and not being able to park in the commissary or P.X.
parking lot. They didn't want any bombs too close to any
facility, so often, it meant parking quite a distance away
and walking in the rain to run errands. Unfortunately, dry
season doesn't start until NEXT M04TH I
They had barbed wire and cement barricades everywhere
and it was like a maze just going the normal 3 minutes to
and from school.I had to verify I.D. so Ty custodians could
come into the school, and parents had toescorted in and out
by M.P.'s. After a few days of this, it wears on everyone's
nerves It becomes a further challenge as part of my job to
keep everybody including irate parents who can't bring a
friend in with them, reasonably content despite
circumstances.







A field phone has now been installed in my office, so.
Special Forces personnel can contact me to verify I.D.more
7 readily.Men in camouflage have become a regular part of L.our
decor. Dressed in full battle gear, they are a6igned to
protect our school.These Special Forces are mostly young
guys who spend about 3 months here and then,, another group
comes down. Now it's the Buffaloes. Last time, it was the
Wolfhounds. Sometimes, due to a lack of bathing facilities
for them, they tend to smell like Buffaloes as well, but
that fact did not stop us from inviting them into the school
for a Thanksgiving dinner. Several classes had "feasts" to
celebrate the holiday and it all was yummy, but especially
to these young guys away from home during the
holidays.Several days later, some of these same guys, now
assigned to a different checkpoint,would thank me for having
them in our school for the "dinner".
.Weve all received General RIP (Reduction
DECEMBER l 8' in Force notices this month.

Bush Asks Manfredo to Serve as Acting, PCC ,
Administrators' The Panama Canal Treaty, under which the U.S.
will transfer ownership of the canal by the end Oof the
century,requires that the post of canal administrator be i
filled by a Panamaian natural Jan. 1, 199 0. Theli.' deputy
administrator post is to be filled by an American." ,

This news about Manfredo, who is very well liked just
like the present administrator, McAuliffe, caused an uproar
in the Panama government-run newspapers, referring to him as
a traitor. Because the U.S. does not recognize the present
government in Panama, it would not approve of any names put
forth by Noriega's "crew".The present deputy administrator,
Manfredo will be Acting Administrator until suchitime as
Noriega steps down.
Who knows what will happen January 1st when Manfredo is
installed ? Probably more riots, and road blocks, but one
thing is for sure ... This will be our last Januaryi st in
the Republic of Panama. It is sad for us and for many others
who will be leaving, but the quality of life is just not
here anymore, so it's time to make a change. .
We are considering ourselves one of the lucky ones
because I can retire with 20 years of government service,
apply to International Schools overseas and perhaps that il.
will be our next move. it would be good for Ian's business ,
and I'm not ready to retire yet. When I say lucky, that's
because many of our friends and acquaintances do not have
the 18/48 service/years so they can retire, and at .
present,they can not carry it with them to a new place in ,- '
DODDS. Congress may pass this bill allowing all .TQL'sCThose ~
of us who transferred from PCC to DODDS at the time of the
Treaty) to carry benefits to another area. That's what we're


all hoping for, but at least we have a couple options if it
isn't passed. I never thought I'd be happy to be as old as I
am But in this case, it helps.The whole RIF situation is
causing a lot of stress for everyone. A few will be staying
on down here and many are hoping to do just that to get in a-'tD,
couple more years) just in case the bill doesn't pass. There
will be only 5 schools here next year as opposed to 11.
This has been our home for 17 years, so it will be hard
to go, but now that we've experienced both sides of the
Isthmus, we can move on to a new adventure somewhere. In the
meantime, we're busy decorating for some upcoming Christmas
parties we'll be having in our home at Ft. Espinar, the wrd et,
first one being the faculty party this coming week. 4*'J
We shall miss our jungle friends... Last night, Mama
Sloth had all the neighbors over in our back yard, watching
her carry her baby on her back across the yard into another
tree. When the neighbors got enough pictures, they left, but L00ok
someone else arrived, a large male Coatimundi who likes to
eat Muffin's left-over dogfood and bread. We spent quite
awhile feeding him and taking pictures.These are the simple k
things we shall miss in this beautiful country in the
tropics.
Wherever we may end up next year, you can be sure
you'll be hearing from us.Living in Panama has been living
history. We're glad we were a part of it.
To tp ~e~ia, Is~ i







(ECEMBER (continued)
It's December 20th. At 12:55 a.M. this morning, we were
awakened by repeated rounds of gunfire. As we crawled on the
floor around the bed to avoid the huge windows in our
tropical dwelling, it was hard to realize what was really
happening, but when the rapid gunfire and mortar blasts
continued, we knew the war against Noriega had begun.
Ian got blankets and pillows and settled us down in the
upstairs hallway away from exposed walls and windows. The
fighting went on for a prolonged period,,, neverending, it
seemed to us, truly a hairy experience.Here we've been
telling all our .family and friends not to worry about us,
that we're now on a military base, and Lo and Behold, in the
wee hours of the morning, without warning, we've found
ourselves in the middle Of a war!
Our peaceful, tranquil setting on Ft. Espinar is now
caught betwen U.S. troops and the Panamanian Defense Forces
just down the road from our house. At the end of our
driveway (about 30 yds away), the guns are set up, and when
we dare to peek out the louvered windows in the upstairs
den, we see the tracers whizzing by toward the PDF
Headquarters. (about 100 yds away) (SEE SKETCH) _
t et




U.U

We've kept the lights offbut the floodlight outside
our house, plus the illumination of gunfire lights up the
inside so that the flashlight isn't necessary.As the rounds
let up, we ventured downstairs where we heard voices
outside.The phone rings. It's a neighbor who is alone across
the cul de sac.Her navy commander husband is away as are the
other husbands, so Ian comforts her and suggests the safest
places to hide in the house.She tells us there are people
running toward our house. We can hear Spanish voices and
more gunfire, so we head back upstairs.'''
On the radio, they're telling us we're in PML Echo...
all movement is prohibited By now most people are aware of
this without the newscasts on radio and TV. At first, Ian K.::
leaves the TV.. off due to the flickering light it gives off ;
outside.Later,we watch full coverage by CNN which was really .
appreciated by us all.Two times, we. went back to bed, but
then it started up again and because our bedroom faces the ,I
PDF Hdqtrs, we headed for our hallway haven once again. I'm i'
glad that Ian is here to look after us. Thank GOD,this.
didn't happen last month when he was on the other side in
the downtown hospital Little Muffin is shaking like a '
leaf. She is so scared of thunder and tonight's "thunder"
goes on and on and on.Hour by hour, we keep hoping to hear


news of Noriega's capture... Neither of us can go back to
sleep even when the gunfire dies down.Not knowing if or when
we might be evacuated, we take early showers just in case.
As the "Bombs burst in the air", we are relieved that
daylight is near.
We are in touch with friends all through the night.
Sadly, we learn that a fellow teacher has been killed in
this war. Apparently she and her husband had beti to a
Christmas party and got caught by a sniper on the way
home.One happy note.. .We've also learned that Kurt Muse who
had been jailed by PDF since April, has been freed and is on
his way home to his family in the U.S.PDF personnel who
attempted the October coup have also been released from the
Gamboa Jail.
It is now daylight. Ian is out checking on the
neighbors.The fighting is over in our immediate area and
it's quiet except for sporadic gunfire elsewhere. Tan has'
taken cokes out for the dozen or more soldiers at the end of
our driveway. We are happy to hear that both PDF
Headquarters on Ft. Espinar have been secured and that the
U.S. have taken over this base. Prisoners have been placed
in the tennis courts until they can be transported
elsewhere.





reports that the DB may be coming through the jungle and
onto base by water. That news makes us all a bit nervous as,,
we're right on the lake. Later, we learn that all is secure.,
once again, but no one ventures out after 6 P.M. when it
starts getting dark.
We receive news that a teacher living downtown(one. of i
our homeowners in the city) has been abducted from his
residence. What a scarey thing for him and such a worry for
his wife. Thank GOD, we moved last June from our residence
downtown
They've opened the shoppette which is 3 minutes from
our house, so that people can get bread and milk. Ian dashes
out to get some. While out, he sees an MP car that has been
shot up, perhaps the one where we lost a couple soldiers on
this base.The casualties are getting to me. I feel sick to
my stomach when I see the list of those who have died or
been wounded... And that thug who is responsible for all
this is still out there somewhere.
Myrtle makes a delicious lentil soup tonight, so we
invite a friend who has just moved next door.We eat early so
she can return home shortly after dark.It seems strange to
be so concerned about 'every sound, every movement, every
ring of the phone but we all seem to feel the same way.


We immediately try to contact family members in the
V..t4but after only one call, lines get busy and then there
is a recording, so we aren't able to reach others right
away.We are able to keep in touch with friends across the
Isthmus. All of us are eager to tell details of what we've
just lived through, but more importantly, to learn of
everyone's safety.
A few friends had their kids visiting others, so now
their families are separated. They have to stay put. H.S.
and college kids down for the holidays were at a party and
couldn't get back home, so had to stay at safe havens
closeby. Sadly, we learn of a teachers' son who has been
killed at a roadblock.He was one of those'who came down for i
Christmas.
It's Wednesday, December 20th and as administrator, I'm I;
supposed to be at school.With' this extra "free time", I
should be working on my book,"One Day At'A Time which
Hazelden Publishers is waiting to see.(I have four ,morelif
chapters to write.)Somehow my creative juices tare not,, ,
flowing and priorities have changed.Ian contactSlanother,
businessman on a deal they've been working on, but the
conversation quickly changes to safety and war stories.We..
seem almost in a daze, just glued to the T.V. all day. CNN
has provided excellent coverage all day long for which we .
are grateful.After no sleep, we cat nap off and on, but. ."-
sleep eludes us. 1;

DECEMBER 21st ...Thursday
We're up early, checking the news.Now it's the'.-.'
"Dignity Battalion" our soldiers and civilians have'to worry .
about.At Ft. Espinar, we feel relatively safe. The soldiers!
are no longer posted at the end of our driveway and we *
venture outside, picking up shells from yesterday's
battle.Up the hill, two kids from my School find containers
of greasepaint, dropped by the soldiers. Next Halloween,the
kids will have many stories to tell their friends
wherever they may be next October ...
I spend a good part of the morning Callingai the
teachers, or at least those I can get through to.Two travel
from the other side and I ask friends to contact them for
me. As far as I know, all are safe. Later in the day, we are .
warned on this base to get inside. The Dignity Battalion (We
prefer to call them armed thugs I) have ransacked a i',
neighboring townsite and are heading toward Ft.
Espinar.Things like this keep us all tense. These unscrupled, !
thugs of Noriega's, taken from prisons or off the streets, j
have been our biggest fear even before the war broke out.
We tell Myrtle, our maid to stay upstairs, so the doors
can remain locked.The Navy Commander's wife calls with i






13,.

Tonight I'm exhausted and finally sleep.Ian stays up
late, watching out for any DB who might still try to get
onto base via a water route.He also gets to sae Sam
Donaldson who is in Panama with his Prime Time Live showoT4V
Ian tells me the next morning that all the areas which were K
just across from the C.Z. limits have been flattened.
Nothing is left. It's no wonder the Balbo% Stadium in the;'-
Canal area now has 5000 refugees I

DECEMBER 22nd ...
It's nxw Friday, a day I had planned to take off
from school so Ian and I could go Christmas shopping on the
Pacific side for ourselves and our friends here.Instead, we.
end up spending 4 hours, waiting in lines to get groceries
at the commissary here at Ft. Espinar.They opened it up from
10-2 P.M. Bussed people from Ft. Davis, Ft. Sherman and Coco .K,
Solo townsites.It was like old Home Week, seeing everyone ':;
again.Although it's only been a couple days, it seems much
longer that we've been confined.Our first "outing" in what
seemed like a week or more!On the way, I took pictures of,
the PDF Headquarters and the checkpoint where an American
flag has been raised. Bullet holes riddle these buildings. 'K,
People are under a lot of stress and it shows., A long
line of people waiting in the hot sun to get food causes,
some unfortunate incidents, mainly some "Latins"(who aref,
often pushy to become "pushier. This does not set'well with, "
those who have been ahead of them, so an MP is called to, .
settle the dispute. Mostly people are polite and try to' .
help, but there are always those who think onlyy of .),.I
themselves... Sad to see. Two hours waiting outside and,
another 2 inside where soldiers and dependent wives help toei. '
man the registers.14ost Panamanian workers can. not getf j'",
here.On the way home, (5 "minutes away),we stop to take ,.
pictures of a pile of shoes and boots left behind where
prisoners were stripped that first night. We hope that some...:A.
of these PDF people get to work for the new government)as
not all are pro-Noriega.
Reports from the people in Coco Solo, an .area of
coordination, tell us that plans were found in the blown up.,,'
PDF Navy base thereto blow up the American Cristobal 1.5. ....
nearby.Looks like even with all this destruction, that it I
was necessary for the U.s. to come in now .. not wait for I
something worse to happen to our people.
Bernie,' the Navy Commander is home for a day off. .After i,
many days of MRE's(Meals Ready To Eat), we invite him and
Jean Marie over to eat, plus Bonnie, our new neighbor. It !
was a nice break for us all,' to have a few laughs and a
release from the tension Lighting all our candles and li
having a Christmasy atmosphere helped us briefly to forgetI i!'
what was going on'outside.Our Christmas tree this 'year is :!
another of our large tropical plants decorated with gold
crafted Franklin Mint ornaments and gold tinsel. With the
candles in the potted plant lighting up all the gold, it's
very festive, especially with all the other candles


flickering amongst our many Christmas things from Germany.A'
special treat is a call from my sister Vi who related all
the calls from friends and relatives who called, concerned
about our safety. For that, we thank you all, as it's been
difficult for us getting calls out.

DECEMBER 23rd
It's Saturday and I'm up at 7:00A.M. checking the
news on T.V. Nothing much has changed, except for a little
more freedom with some exceptions to ECHO. They're letting
Pan Canal Commission workers go to work by designated routes
so that all services can operate...fire, A/CI
utilitiesMarine Bureauetc.We even got to drive off base to
Ft. Davis base today which is about 10 minutes away.We got
gas and mail. (The only mail was the National Job Register
for School Administrators which I'd sent away for since the
notice of the RIF.)They're expecting a big shipment of mail
to be sent over to this side tonight, so there will be a
pickup tomorrow, Christmas Eve day. This is certainly a
Christmas Eve that we'll never forget !







We took pictures of another checkpoint and also of some
of the detainees in the softball field over at Davis where
. they have set up tents for them.We picked up homemade
cookies from one of the single teachers and passed them out
on Espinar, giving her phone number. One soldier was
especially pleased to get a surprise package as today is his
birthday.
Back home in our backyard, vultures sit in the trees.
It's a bit unnerving to have them moving in so close. We see
them all the time, along the roads and open spaces looking
for carrion. We can't help wondering what the attraction is
here.We convince ourselves in this cul de sac that it must
be the old coat.amundi we've been feeding, that it must have
been sick as it wasn't traveling in a~pack as most of them
do.It's easier to think that than something else. We're glad
we got pictures of the friendly fellow a few days ago..

DECEMBER 24h....
It's Christmas Eve day. There was more gunfire last
night and it was an uneasy night.About 7:30'A.M., I'm out
walking Muffin and talking to a neighbor. At 7:50 az I'm'
going up the outside stairs, more gunfire across the hill on i'
base, has me scurrying inside with Muff in my arms. In my ,
haste, the leash gets caught around the doorknob and my
heart beats a lot faster before I'm back inside.Other than.
that, it's a pretty quiet day. Ian is having a "lay-in"
after very little sleep two nights ago, so I fill him in on V
the latest. We both head for the T.V., hoping for news, but
it's too early.It's a beautiful sunny, breezy dry season
day.You can't imagine how lovely it is here. It isn't any
wonder that we've spent all these years in such a tropical
paradise.Recently, one of the bohios in the new park here,
was given one of my proposed names... Paradise Palms. If,
things get back to any normalcy, we'll get to use the bohio
(a tropical-type gazebo)for picnics.
At 5:03 P.M.,General Max Thurman announced that Noriega
has surrendered to the papal embassy, asking for political 1
asylum. I run next door with the news just in case they
haven't heard it. They hadn't. We hug one another and
cheerthen I tell Myrtle who also runs down the Street to
tell her maid friend.Ian and I, along with probably everyone
else who is anti-Noriega feel this is the best Christmas
present ever After that, it's a relatively quiet night on,
this side, a bit noisy still with the DB on the other side,
plus pots and pans banging in celebration,but really QUIET'!'
in comparison to the last few nights.On T.V. regular ,
programming has resumed, so we get to see a couple Christmas ,
shows and relax.

DECEMBER 25th .. ,'*"
The refugees are having a slim, but at least a
hopeful Christmas. Noriega is holed up at the Papal Embassy, ''
and we're all wondering what the Pope will decide. Now we "
know that Spain wants no part of him, and we're hoping that
he won't be allowed to go to Cuba.With all his VooDoo '
belief s, pornography, murder, and drug involvement, it's
difficult to think anyone would try to save him, but of K
course,we do recognize diplomatic immunity 'by an i
embassy.Again we wait to see the final outcome of this
"Hitler-loving monster".
We spend Christmas afternoon with neighbors and
military families from Espinar, each bringing a favorite
dish. Mine is typically a New England one.., boiled onions.
Myrtle is cooking the turkey and all the fixings which we'll
have at home tomorrow on Boxing Day. (An English holiday
which started by giving servants, mail carriers, etc
presents in boxes the first weekday after Christmas).We had
planned to have a party tonight, but like many other events
this Christmas season, it never materialized.As we look
outside, the lake view is like a picture postcard, peaceful
and tranquil, except when the spell is broken by the short
wave radio bel on ng to the Navy Executive Officer. We take
his picture later Ah5a gun he has confiscated. He claims
his mother wouldn't believe it otherwise. Ian decides it's
not a good idea to take it in front of the Christmas tree,
so we go outside with the jungle backdrop instead. ,[









... :It's been a rainy day this Christmas after some lovely'
dry season days. At least it might keep the Dig Bats(nei

name for "Dignity Battalion" off the streets.One nice
surprise this Christmas morning.., our friend, the
coatamundi was outside waiting for a Christmas breakfast.He
hadn't been around in days. We've tried off and on all day
to get through to family, but we've learned that the Intel
number is no longer working.We found a new number to call,
but without any success, so we just hope that everyone in
the U.S.,EnglandHong Kong, Canada, and Australia are all
fine this Christmas Day.We think of our families a lot
tonight as we relax and spend a quiet evening watching T.V.

DECEMBER 26th...
It's Boxing Day in England (The first week day
after Christmas when postmen, servants, etc. are given
presents in boxes). In Panama, it's the day after Christmas
and every report coming in shows more and more caches of
arms hidden everywhere by this tyrant,in preparation for a
war against US and HIS OWN PEOPLE I More PDF are
surrendering. People in Panama are starting back to work,
even though many of their workplaces are a shambles...
nothing left.They now have a curfew from 11P.M. to, 5 A.M.
just as we do, imposed by their new government.We celebrate
with another turkey dinner at home today, thanks to Myrtle.
All of us are very fortunate here on base. Not once has the
electricity or water gone off through all'.' this.Just some
restrictions on phone usage, but we've heard from some of
Ian's sisters so we feel better knowing they'll probably
contact others in his family.The big black and white tomcat
that hangs around our neighborhood has "adopted" us over the
holidays, while its owner is away fighting this war.He's not
afraid of anything.

DECEMBER 27th...
It's back to school for me today, even though I had'
to wait until the soldiers checked out the PDF buildings
nearby before I could go down the hill to our isolated
school in the jungle. I only had the supply clerk report as
she lives on this base now. The other non-teaching staff
live in France Field, Color,, and on the Pacific side of the
Isthmus.
Today we learned that Candy flellin, our fellow
colleague was buried at the Corozal Cemetery.The educators
down here have really suffered casualties ...1 teacher
killed, 1 teacher's son killed and 1 teacher abducted and no
word of him since. (Ray Dragseth)(Teacher who lost a son is
Yolanda Paul).It's hard enough to accept all the dead and
wounded, but especially difficult when you know them.l

DECEMBER 28th...


Good News today... After a week on ECHO, we're back
to Delta, so more people come to work and it's great to see
everyone and to know they and their families are safe.Lots
of "war stories" and looting stories, perhaps the most
humorous is of a guy with a forklift, going down the street
with a BMW on it.
Troops are now in my old school at Curundu, have
completely taken over Cliff's office and all.There is talk.
of moving Diablo School classes to Curundu, but they're
still having meetings on this.We were glad to hear that
Cliff was okay out in Vera Cruz as there were a lot of PDF
and Dig Bats out that way, but luckily theMarines were also
out there taking charge. The units of all services did an
excellent job, coordinating all of this. We're proud of
them.,Ian even put a small American flag on my car today
Dr. Wolf, Director of DODDS-Panama informed me today
that school will probably start a week late, on January 8th,
rather than on the 2nd.He was at the Balboa H.S. where
thousands of refugees have registered, lots of Chinese among
them. They are giving our military families a choice of
going out even earlier than planned, so we'll just have to
wait and see how many kids are left for this school year.I'm
continuing to get transcripts out to International Schools
Services.




A, DECEMBER 29th ...
It's day '10 of Operation Just Cause. We've learned
more grisly news today, Ian called me at school The
Dragseth family found Ray's body by showing pictures at
hospitals and morgues. One mortician recognized him. He'd
been shot in the head and buried in a common grave, If that
mortician hadn't remembered him, they might never have
learned what had happened to him. Such a tragedy.
I attended a Garrison Staff Meting as I usually do
every Friday morning. The Garrison Commander, Lt.Col. Henry
briefs all commanders of units, including DODDS and other
civilians.Today we learned that 11 babies have ben delivered
by Medics at Coco Solo during this war. Mail on the Atlantic
side has been delayed with helicopters being utilized to
pick up detainees instead, but we should receive a shipment
today.Unfortunately,3 40-ft containers of'Christmas packages
have been lost at Las Minas port, along with Household Goods
that were scheduled to be shipped out, possibly some cars as
well.
I received one letter that wasn't held up.We found it
amusing. It was from ISS, telling me that my file has been
activated and that it's been sent for me to be considered
for an elementary principal position in ... Get this I
...Bogota,Columbia I It must be my crisis management
skills.Actually, the director states that civilians are
affected very little down there. It's a 17-acre campus with
2 el. schools, 1 middle school and 1 H.S. They've caught
another drug leader today(number 5 out of 10 wanted), so
maybe they'll clean the place up and it won't be so bad,
...In the meantime, my file will be sent out to other places
as well.Both Ian and I are ready to leave Panama now and are
looking forward to a new adventure somewhere else.After
living overseas so long, we're not ready to "retire" to U.S.
just yet, but it all depends on what's offered to us. Who
knows if they let us keep our early retirement, it might
even be a transfer with DODDS, but that's doubtful.An
international setting is better for Ian's work in IRC
(International Resource Corporation) too, so we're eager to
se what transpires in 1990.

DECEMBER 30th ...
The media briefing at SOUTHCOM (Southern Command)
reports this morning that over 72,000 weapons have been
confiscated from caches.There are many civilian dead, but
many of those were involved with the DIG BATS, plus there
are many more which may never be reported from the looting
accidents.One rumored incident told of 8 people being killed
when an overeager looter used a forklift, tried to lift a
huge crate which fell off onto a crowd.Everyday., we hear
similar kinds of stories." /
The Torrijos Airport reopened today with limited
hours.(8-6p.m.), but our teachers won't get in until at,
least January 3rd when Eastern flights 'resume. 70 teachers
are out of country.. .4 from my school for the holidays.


Today is Myrtle's 57th birthday. Ian took her yesterday
to get her I.D. renewed, and with Delta now, she got to go.1
t home for the first time. Her son on the other side willi*!
most likely have many war stories to tell her.
The news of U.S. troops going into the unregistered
Nicaraguan residence was not good news. As usual, Ortega
overreacted.It will be interesting to see what President
Endara does next.It's for sure we have enough
Nicaraguans,Cubans and Libyans here already running around
the jungle with "left-over" PDF. We don't want any more.

DECEMBER 31st ...It's Sunday,New Year's Eve. We were hoping
to end this year by having Noriega in U.S. custody, but at
least he is surrounded by our troops.To recap the yearthere
are no more ridiculing signs outside the Balboa PDF this
December, Instead it is bombed out.Bush did come through
with a plan after all and we're proud of him and all the
military.School is delayed a week, not by bomb threats but
due to refugees living at the H.S.$50 'million has bet"
transferred from U.S. ESCROW account to Panamanian banks, so
people can be paid at last and rebuilding can begin.The
people here can look forward to the future with hope and
with freedom as in so many other parts of the world this
year.Fireworks were banned this New Eve for Just Cause.The
people banged their pots and pans instead and had a happy
New Year. We hope all of you have a happy, healthy and SAFE
new year, the latter taking on new meaning for us in 1989 in
Panam -7 .




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