Panama pledges aid to 1964 canal riot participants

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Associated Press

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 9 at 8:35 PM

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) — Panama is promising economic aid for protesters who participated in 1964 riots that many believe eventually spurred the U.S. to hand over control of the Panama Canal in 1999.

Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez says the protesters "deserve this aid because they were the ones who really completed our independence."

Henriquez spoke Monday on the 47th anniversary of the start of the riots. He doesn't say how much will be offered to hundreds of surviving protesters.

The riots started when a group of Panamanian teenagers went to a U.S. school near the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone to hang a Panamanian flag.

Clashes ensued among Panamanian police, U.S. soldiers and protesters in which 23 demonstrators and four U.S soldiers died.

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