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
DEPARTMENT FOR PRM AND WHA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2014 TAGS: PREL SMIG PM CU HA POLITICS FOREIGN POLICY SUBJECT: PANAMA'S FM ARIAS NONCOMMITTAL ON REQUEST TO RESETTLE PROTECTED CUBAN AND HAITIAN MIGRANTS
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.