PANAMA CITY – Panamanian
President Martín Torrijos, accompanied by
former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe
González, on Monday led a ceremony in homage to his father, Gen. Omar Torrijos, on the 25th anniversary of his death in an air crash.
The act of remembrance was held in Coclesito, 150 kilometers northeast of the Panamanian capital, Omar Torrijos’ destination when his airplane went down in bad weather on July 31, 1981.
Gonzalez, a Socialist who governed Spain from 1982-1996 and was a personal friend of the elder Torrijos, said that life had given him “the opportunity to live more years than the one we called ‘el Viejo,’” alluding to the late general.
President Torrijos said that 25 years after his father’s death, Panamanians are “still harvesting part of his efforts … and those of other patriots.”
After “the achievement of our sovereignty and our independence … (now) it’s up to Panamanians, to our generation, after the efforts of so many generations, to decide on the future of the Canal,” he said.
The Panama Canal Treaties, which were signed by Omar Torrijos and U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Sept. 7, 1977, set forth the return of the waterway and all the military installations along it to Panama on Dec. 31, 1999.
Carter joined González and former Colombian head of state Alfonso López later Monday in Panama City at a colloquium with journalists about the work of Omar Torrijos.