Warning Shot

A vote on Panama's army turns into a referendum on the President

WHEN HE FIRST DREW UP A PROPOSAL TO REFORM Panama's constitution and officially abolish the military, President Guillermo Endara assumed his countrymen would agree that a final break with ousted dictator General Manuel Antonio Noriega's discredited regime was in order. To his surprise, Endara found that Panamanians wanted a break from him. In a referendum, the first national vote since U.S. troops deposed Noriega and installed Endara three years ago, 63.5% of Panamanian voters said no to the package of 58 complicated items in a simple yes or no vote. The vote was tantamount to a rejection of Endara's rule, which...

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