The government's announcement that the presidential election had been nullified was accompanied by a level of gringo-bashing seldom seen in Latin America.
Stern voices on government radio told of alleged U.S. attempts to undermine the elections, and television viewers were shown clips from bad movies, documentary footage of the 1965 Dominican Republic uprising and the 1962 Bay of Pigs fiasco.Film showing unspeakable torture scenes was broken up by flash-frames of the CIA emblem and headquarters, U.S. troops training and former President Lyndon Johnson, who sent American soldiers to quell the uprising in the Dominican Republic.
Then it was back to movie clips in which sinister American plots were discussed to topple governments.
A Cuban documentary said foreign intervention, especially American, had brought poverty and misery to Panama. "Now, together, we will conjugate the verb `to decolonial-ize,' " it said.
A government program showed American firepower and pictures of the Panama Canal and said the United States intends to keep the canal after the turn of the century in violation of 1977 treaties.
On national radio, a speaker went down a list of countries friendly to the United States.
"Guatemala? They can't even take care of or clean up their own situation.
"Costa Rica? What can we say about Costa Rica?" the speaker asked, saying that it was well known that the Nobel Prize won by President Oscar Arias in 1987 was bought and paid for.
News programs of Wednesday's parade that ended in the beatings of opposition candidates for president and vice president said the violence was provoked by "attacks by paramilitary troops of the opposition to create for the United States a justification to invade Panama just as they did in the Dominican Republic in 1965."
There was no mention of the beatings or of the death of one candidate's bodyguard.
The government statement nullifying the vote partly blamed the United States:
"The normal development of the elections was altered by obstructionist acts of many foreigners called here by political forces within or outside the country who did not have an invitation from the Electoral Tribunal and whose obvious aim was to circulate the idea of electoral fraud proclaimed to the world by American authorities well before the elections."
President Bush had sent an uninvited delegation that virtually crashed the election and was highly critical of the process.
Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, head of Panama's Defense Forces and the nation's de facto leader, started promoting the theme of the United States as a threat more than a year ago when he was indicted in Florida on drug charges, and the United States mounted a campaign to force him from power.
But Panama has had close ties with the United States over the years, and Panamanians have mixed feelings about their neighbor to the North.
U.S. role criticized
The nullification of elections in Panama was necessary because the opposition, instigated by the United States, violated election laws and attempted to rig the results, the official Tass news agency charged Thursday.
Both sides had claimed victory in the balloting, which international observers and the opposition claimed were rigged by forces loyal to strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega.
Tass, in a dispatch from Panama City, claimed supporters of opposition presidential candidate Guillermo Endara had violated election procedures.
"They blockaded polling stations, preventing ballot boxes from being taken to the commission's headquarters in good time," Tass said. "A considerable number of ballot papers were stolen or destroyed and several ballot boxes were burned."