A pro-government newspaper published photographs of U.S. Embassy employees and their families so that Panamanians will "know the Gringos who are starving us to death."
The supplement in the newspaper Critica, a propaganda organ of the government, said the Americans "think the walls of their embassy are impregnable."U.S. Embassy spokesmen said it was a significant escalation of what they called a harassment campaign by Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, who is chief of the 15,000-member Panamanian Defense Forces and controls the civilian government.
"We take this seriously," embassy spokesman Terence Kneebone said in a telephone interview Thursday.
"Saying `Panamanians, these are your enemies,' and putting it in a very shrill way in front of a public in which there are known paramilitary groups is not a very wholesome thing to do. Combined with the rhetoric, it is cause for concern," Kneebone added.
Noriega has been indicted on drug-trafficking charges in the United States, and the Reagan administration has imposed severe economic sanctions on Panama in an effort to make him resign.
A 10-foot-high fence of iron bars surrounds the U.S. Embassy grounds on seaside Balboa Avenue. The embassy building is about 25 yards from the fence, within easy reach of projectiles from the street.
The embassy's physical barriers are almost identical to those of the U.S. consulate in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, which anti-American protesters burned and sacked in April.
The front page of the 36-page supplement published by Critica on Thursday shows photos of the embassy building, U.S. Ambassador Arthur Davis and John Maisto, deputy chief of mission. It says in bold print: "Panamanian: Know the Gringos who are starving us to death."