Panama says sorry for military rule, decades on

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 25 2010 07:31 AM | Updated as of May 25 2010 03:31 PM

PANAMA CITY - President Ricardo Martinelli's government on Monday issued Panama's first apology by a democratic administration for the Central American nation's 1968-1989 military dictatorship, more than 20 years after it ended.

"We have a responsibility as the State to deliver for you, and so with this act and our presence here, we ask for your forgiveness in the name of the Panamanian state," said Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, at a ceremony honoring one of the dictatorship's victims, Heliodoro Portugal.

"This is a ceremony in honor of all the missing from the military dictatorship. And it is a ceremony that makes us reflect, and ask forgiveness as a state, and urge all Panamanians to recognize our mistakes, and turn the page on this chapter" of Panama's history, said Varela.

He said Panamanians should learn from the country's mistakes "so that they never happen again."