Transcript for This day in history Jan. 3, 1990
Good evening it was something of a strange scene in Panama today armed American troops standing between angry Panamanians. And the man so many Panamanians would be happy to see lynched. One of the signs in the crowd outside the Vatican's embassy in Panama City said. Noriega you tyrant your end is near which raises the question for yet another date is the US any nearer. To prying Noriega out of his lonely sanctuary and it is apparently lonely. ABC's John Martin is in Panama City. Thousands of ordinary Panamanians showed up outside the Vatican Embassy. To denounce Noriega today and to call for his surrender to the United States. It was the largest rally in Panama since the may elections perhaps 50000 people. It's symbolize the growing pressure on church officials here to turn over Noriega. At one point a man who appeared to have a hand grenade was arrested and attacked by the crowd as he was taken away. Inside the embassy the former dictator was reportedly confined to his room. The embassy staff of nuns and priests ordered not to talk to him by the papal Nuncio. At mid afternoon three American senators visited the front gate of the embassy. Earlier senator Nunn chairman of the armed services committee said it was too early to shift control of Panama to its new police forces. We don't want a security problem we don't. Chaos problem we don't problem of looting and start back again. Meanwhile the head of Panama's new defense force colonel Roberto RB Hoch resigned without explanation. Replaced by a deputy consider closer to the United States. At the same time the Cuban government asked safe conduct for 23 refugees stranded inside the embassies residents. Including Noriega's wife and three daughters. Cuba said it will send a plane to pick them up tomorrow that raise questions of whether the United States would permit Noriega to go to Cuba. At the White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said we never said no third country. We want him to come back to the US but we are not going to rule out every alternative. The White House said it will never released Noriega to Cuba and only temporarily to a third country. Today's rally suggests Panamanians don't want him released at all despite signs that's what he's holding out for. John Martin ABC news Panama City.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.