President Reagan issued an order Friday barring top Panamanian government and military officials known to support Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega from entering the United States.
An official said it is believed that several hundred Panamanians would be affected by the order.In a proclamation that prompted a quick denunciation and a threat of retaliation by the Panamanian government, the president said Noriega and his handpicked president, Manuel Solis Palma, "are preventing the legitimate government of President Eric Arturo Delvalle from restoring order and democracy in that country."
Accordingly, he said, "I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to restrict the entrance into the United States as immigrants and non-immigrants of certain persons who formulate or implement the policies" of Noriega and Solis Palma.
Under the president's proclamation, Secretary of State George P. Shultz will designate those Panamanian nationals who, with their families, will be barred from entering the United States because of their role in aiding the Noriega regime.
"The proclamation is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until such time as the secretary of state determines that democracy has been restored in Panama," the president said.
He said the order would not be enforced in such a way as to conflict with international obligations of the United States or to prohibit the entry of individuals into the United States to submit to U.S. government legal proceedings.
Boris Moreno, director of the Panamanian National Information Service, denounced the order and warned that his government might retaliate in kind.
"We could not care less about any lists made up by the Reagan administration," Moreno said in Panama City. "The United States is free to make as many lists as it wants of Panamanians it does not want to admit there, just as we can make our lists of U.S. citizens we do not want in Panama."
The Reagan administration has sought unsuccessfully to induce Noriega, who is under indictment on drug trafficking charges in Florida, to yield power to Delvalle in Panama.
A State Department official, asking not to be identified, said several hundred Panamanians probably would be affected by the order.
Panamanians on the list who attempt to come to the United States would be stopped at U.S. ports of entry or they would be denied visas at U.S. consular offices, the official said.
He added that the proclamation is directed mostly at senior officials of the Noriega-led government and the officer corps of the Panamanian Defense Force.