Leaders of Latin American countries expressed "deep consternation" at the crisis in Panama but cautioned against U.S. military intervention shortly before President Bush sent combat troops to protect American citizens.

Nicaragua, an exception, backed the Panamanian government, saying it was forced to cancel the elections because of U.S. interference.Mexico, sending a strong signal to the Panama government following the annulment of Sunday's election results and physical assaults on opposition candidates, announced late Thursday it was recalling its ambassador to Panama, Carlos Blanck, for consultations.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez, saying the "whole world must feel very grieved" by events in Panama, said he hoped to convene a meeting of the Organization of American States as early as Monday to discuss the situation.

In New York, United Nations representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela handed Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar a statement representing their governments' positions on the voided elections in Panama.

"We declare our deep consternation at the situation that could move Panama even farther from the Latin American democratic community in this historic moment when the free and popular expression is making great progress in Latin America," the statement said.

"We reaffirm our continued defense for the principle of non-intervention and self-determination and support for a continued observance of the Panama Canal Treaty," it said.