Joseph Turocy may have experience in crossing the Panama Canal, but he lacks knowledge about the canal's operation [letters, Oct. 22]. Decisions about appointments and operation of the canal remain under the control of the Panama Canal Commission, with a majority rule by the United States.

The same Panamanian employees who were trained so well under Gen. Phil McAuliffe are still at their jobs, along with other dedicated countrymen; Panamanians comprise 97 percent of the canal staff. The United States and the worldwide shipping industry can rest assured that this waterway is in the hands of technicians who have the knowledge and dedication necessary.

Mr. Turocy commented on "social disorder and political instability" in Panama. But since our liberation forces installed the democratically elected country leaders in December 1989, two free and fair elections have been held in 1994 and 1999, the results of which were accepted by all Panamanian citizens.

Former president Nicholas Barletta has been put in charge of the development of the canal areas. No more honest individual could be found than this internationally respected economist. The canal administrator is Alberto Aleman, a member of a family held in high esteem by Panamanians and by many in our country as well. Under their leadership, I am sure that no corruption will be condoned.



The writer was U.S. ambassador to Panama from 1986 to 1990.