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PANAMA CANAL TREATIES
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1977
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:37 a.m., in room 318, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. John Sparkman, chairman, presiding.
Present: Senators Sparkman, Church, Clark, Biden, Stone, Sarbanes, Case, and Percy.
Senator CHURCH (now presiding]. The committee will please come to order.
OPENING STATEMENT The committee meets this morning to renew its consideration of the proposed Panama Canal agreements now pending before it.
We have some seven or eight witnesses in all to be heard this morning, so I hope we can move along as expeditiously as possible.
At Senator Stone's request, there will be a slight alteration in the appearance of the witnesses this morning. He has asked that we begin with the two individuals who are here representing the Panamanian Committee for Human Rights. To try to accommodate Senators' requests in these matters, we will rearrange the schedule accordingly. It ought not cause much disruption.
So, now we will proceed to hear from Mr. Richard Eisenmann and Mrs. Rose Marie Aragon of the Panamanian Committee for Human Rights.
Mr. Eisenmann, do you wish to begin? Mr. EISENMANN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would request that Mrs. Aragon be heard first.
Senator CHURCH. Very well. Mrs. Aragon, would you begin, please. [Mrs. Aragon's biography follows:]
Duties: Translated from Spanish, Czech and Russian into English. From English into
Spanish. Worked as consecutive interpreter Spanish-English, English-Spanish, for individuals and groups invited by the State Department and AID. This meant travelling through the US with them, visiting the facilities pertaining to their profession or interest; seeing to it that the program prepered by the State Department was carried out. In other words being responsible for the visitor or visitors from the moment they arrived at the airport until the moment they departed.
Pan American Union, Wash.D.C.
Duties: Worked as Assistant Editor with journal Estadística · Gathered news items
for journal and wrote news in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Supervised typing, proof-reading. Did layout of magazine. Was in charge of all dealings with the printers. Prepared all correspondence dealing with the journal.
Duties: As Assistant Librarian I was responsible for cataloguing the books. Keeping
the files in order. Answering correspondence. Assisting the students in finding material they needed for their projects, or guiding them as to reading choices.
As Head Librarian I selected the books for the library. Consulted with teachers as to reference books need in connection with the different subjects taught. Prepared budget. Organized the audio-visual section. Introduced students in the use of the library facilities. Worked closely with teachers in order to make the library the center of the school. Helped students find needed references and adviced as to the books available for special projects. Supervised cataloguing of books, correspondence, shelving, and other regular office work.
Duties: At the Episcopal School I taught English literature to the 12th grade. I also
taught Social Studies, Reading and Composition in English to the 2nd grade.
During the same period I taught English to panamanians at the PanamanianAmerican Cultural Association and at the Balboa YMCA, in the Canal Zone.
Duties: Taught beginning, intermediate, advanced English and conversation to Swedish
and foreign students, especially university students. Gave special English to Economic and Medical students.
STATEMENT OF MRS. (LEOPOLDO) ROSE MARIE ARAGON, PANA
MANIAN COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mrs. ARAGON. Mr. Chairman, I deeply appreciate the opportunity of appearing before this committee.
I am Rose Marie Aragon, born in Argentina, a naturalized U.S. citizen and the widow of Leopoldo Aragon, who immolated himself last month before the American Embassy in Stockholm protesting the violations of human rights in Panama and the signing of a treaty with the Torrijos dictatorship.
BACKGROUND OF LEOPOLDO ARAGON I met and married Leopoldo Aragon, a Panamanian international journalist when he was assigned to Washington. Our twin daughters were born in the United States.
In 1967, my husband was assigned to Czechoslovakia by Interpress Service. We went with him. After 9 months, he was summarily given 48 hours to leave the country. He had written too many truths about communism.
In 1971, Leopoldo was assigned to Panama. As a working journalist, he was shown a Corps of Engineers draft position paper dated February 16, 1968. That paper noted that popular opposition had rejected the 1967 proposed canal treaties that the Panamanian democratic Government had negotiated with the United States. The paper concluded that a new treaty could not be passed in Panama except under a strong military dictatorship.
Incidentally, allow me to remind this committee that Mr. Rusk said the same thing, almost to a word, when he testified in favor of the treaties.
This U.S. paper recommended Torrijos as the likeliest man to do the job.
At the end of July 1972, on his return trip from an assignment in Mexico, Leopoldo stopped in Costa Rica where at dinner he discussed the Panamanian situation with Gonzalo Facio and President Figueres. On his arrival in Panama, Leopoldo was arrested by the G-2.
After 4 days, G-2 admitted they were holding Leopoldo. My attorney agreed to present a writ of habeas corpus, though he accurately predicted no result.
He learned that my husband was charged with possession of marihuana. My lawyer advised me to see the Minister of Justice, Materno Vasquez. For 10 days, day after day, from morning till night, I sat and I waited. When finally the Minister admitted me, it was only to say that Leopoldo was held for subversion of public order.
METHOD OF TORTURE
At last the doors of the prison opened for me and I talked with my husband after more than 4 weeks. During that time he was tortured by all of these methods: blows with a rubber hose; first blows to stomach and chest; long questioning under strong lights without sleep; electric shocks to the vital parts of the body: the ears, genital organs and the anus, that made him feel his insides were bursting; hanging by the