Jaime Roldós Aguilera, President of Ecuador 1979-1981, and Omar Efraín Torrijos Herrera, leader of Panama from 1968-1981.
Roldós increased the minimum wage, reduced working hours to 40 a week, and signed the Charter of Conduct with Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, establishing the principles of universal justice and human rights and signalling that humans rights were more important than non-intervention. Washington took this as pretext for Soviet influence in the region and, shortly after Reagan’s inauguration, condemned what it called the “Roldós doctrine”. Meanwhile Roldós raised taxes on US hydrocarbon companies operating in Ecuador, threatening them with nationalisation if they didn’t ensure that the Ecuadorian people benefited from Ecuadorian resources.
Torrijos was considered the first Panamanian leader to represent the interests of the majority. He opened schools and expanded opportunities for the poor through social and economic reforms and land redistribution. He negotiated the Torrijos-Carter Treaties over the Panama Canal, transferring sovereignty from the US to Panama. Negotiations with Japanese business interests over a proposed larger sea-level canal did not meet with approval in Washington as Reagan took office in January 1981.
On May 24th 1981 Roldós died when his plane crashed into Huairapungo Mountain. Torrijos gathered his family shortly after to tell them he would probably be next. He dreamt of being on a plane hitting a mountainside. Two months later on July 30th Torrijos died when his plane crashed in the hills of Santa Marta.