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Panamanian Ambassador Elio Ortiz Pledges Continued Support for Israel

The Panamanian Ambassador pledged today that his country will continue to support Israel without reservations in the future as it has done in the past. Ambassador Elio Ortiz spoke at a luncheon given in his honor by the Israel-Latin American Chamber of Commerce. His words had particular significance in view of the abortive coup which briefly overthrew Panama’s ruling military junta this week.

The coup was organized by a group of rebel colonels during the absence in Mexico City of Gen. Omar Torrijos, commander of the Panamanian National Guard who is the “strongman” of the junta. Gen. Torrijos returned to Panama on Tuesday and promptly quashed the rebellion. He was reported to have the overwhelming support of the military and apparently of most Panamanians. He has been in power since his junta overthrew Pres. Arnulfo Arias in October, 1968.

Ambassador Ortiz praised the contributions made by Panama’s Jewish community to the country’s economy and thanked Israel for the technical aid it has extended to Panama.