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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 686-94
December 08, 1994

Update to Disturbance in Panama's Operation Safe Haven Camps

Cubans at Operation Safe Haven's Community Camp One returned to their tents this afternoon after disturbances from yesterday rekindled this morning.

Approximately 18 U.S. military personnel were transported to Gorgas Army Medical Hospital with 10 admitted for treatment. In addition, 10 Cubans were admitted. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening. The disturbance occurred when more than 1,000 Cubans left their camp areas at various times. Additionally, there was damage to camp facilities, military and civilian vehicles.

Yesterday's unrest resulted from a false perception that the parole process was purposefully being delayed by Safe Haven personnel, according to Brig. Gen. James Wilson, Task Force commander.

In both cases, U.S. security forces from several locations in Panama responded on call to restore order. The on-scene forces, which number about 530, were augmented with three Infantry companies (about 300 soldiers), about 150 additional Air Force security police and an additional Army Military Police company (about 185 soldiers). Units from the Atlantic side of the canal and units conducting training in the area were also alerted and were prepared to respond. A U.S. Navy boat also increased patrolling in that area of the canal.

The majority of Cubans have returned to their camps. Authorities have located about 200 who have not returned and are working to bring them back to the camps.

Currently, there are more than 8,500 Cubans living in the Operation Safe Haven camps.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.