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Senator SARBANES. Well, thank you very much for your testimony. We appreciate it.
Senator GRIFFIN. I have no questions.
Senator SARBANES. The committee will stand adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9:30 in this room when the hearings with respect to the Panama Canal Treaties will be resumed.
[At 4 p.m., the committee adjourned until 9:30 a.m., Thursday, October 13, 1977.]
PANAMA CANAL TREATIES
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1977
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:43 a.m., in room 318, Russell Senate Office Building, the Honorable John Sparkman (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Sparkman, Pell, McGovern, Clark, Glenn, Stone, Sarbanes, Case, Pearson, Percy, and Griffin.
The CHAIRMAN. Let the committee come to order, please.
The committee continues this morning its consideration of the proposed Panama Canal treaties.
We have a long list of witnesses today. I want to encourage the witnesses and the members of the committee to be as brief as possible. We cannot have a meeting on this subject this afternoon because we have another meeting already scheduled.
Much of today's testimony will be from high-ranking labor officials here in the United States and from the Canal Zone as well.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR-CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL
Our first witness is Mr. Lane Kirkland, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.
Mr. Kirkland, every member of this committee has a copy of your statement before him. The entire statement will be printed in the record of this hearing.
You may proceed to either read it, summarize it, or discuss it, as you see fit.
It has been suggested that since we have so many witnesses this morning and because we cannot meet this afternoon, as I have pointed out, that members ought to hold their questioning to 7 minutes.
If there is no objection, we will place a 7-minute limitation on members' questioning. Mr. Kirkland, would you please proceed.
STATEMENT OF LANE KIRKLAND, SECRETARY-TREASURER, AFL
CIO, WASHINGTON, D.C., ACCOMPANIED BY ANDREW J.
First of all I want to say that George Meany wanted me to express his regrets that he could not be here.
He has had some minor facial surgery which has knocked him out of commission for a few days. He has asked me to fill in for him.
I have with me Andrew Biemiller, our director of legislation, and Andrew McClellan, our AFL-CIO inter-American representative.
Since my statement is fairly short, I would like to read some excerpts from it, although I will not read the entire document.
AFL CIO SUPPORT FOR TREATIES
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you to urge approval by the Senate of the Panama Canal treaties.
We, of the AFL-CIO, have a vital interest in these treaties, both as citizens, concerned with the security and welfare of our country, and as trade unionists, representing thousands of workers employed in the Canal Zone.
At its last meeting, on August 29 and 30, the AFL-CIO Executive Council discussed the Panama Canal treaties at some length. Following this discussion and analysis of the summary terms of the treaties which were available at that time, the council unanimously adopted a statement. That statement is included in the record and I will not read
it to you.
It refers to general satisfaction with the labor conditions that were made a part of the treaties, our interest and concern with the national security interests and the right of passage, and the rights of workers in the zone, those of both American and
Panamanian citizenship, and other aspects of the treaties.
Mr. Chairman, our position is based on practical grounds in the light of the circumstances of the modern world, and the conviction that we have more to gain today, in terms of the broad interests and ideals of the United States, than we have to lose, by approval of these treaties.
In the public debate of recent weeks over the wisdom of these treaties, some arguments have drawn attention to the admittedly dubious circumstances surrounding the original treaty of 1903. I do not propose to rehash that question for it has no bearing on our position.
While historically interesting, revisionist aspersions on the role of this country in a bygone era are scarcely relevant to the issues actually before you. Adverse judgments by this generation on the actions of another generation in another world, three-quarters of a century ago. may excite the moralism of some, but they have little persuasive appeal to our members, and I think to the public generally today. Nor are latter-day efforts to portray Theodore Roosevelt as some sort of an international brigand likely to rally broad public support behind these treaties.
In fact, the Panama Canal treaty was renegotiated twice, in 1936 and in 1955, with duly constituted Panamanian governments, with significant modifications in its terms and increases in annual compensation to Panama.
In no way should the treaties now before you be painted or regarded as acts of atonement for American “guilt,” for we are guilty of nothing
U.S. CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION OF CANAL On the contrary, the construction and operation of the Panama Canal by the United States was and is an extraordinary service to humanity and to all of the maritime nations of the world. The American people have every right and reason to continue to regard this as a proud chapter in our history, as has been taught to schoolchildren for generations. I, for one, deeply deplore and resent the campaign by Latin American demagogs and by our own guilt mongers to condemn it as a locus of American "imperialism" or "racism," as was put forward, for example, at the International Labor Organization last June.
U.S. INTEREST IN CANAL
But the time has now come to bring to the fore another aspect of American pride: Our pride in the fact that we are not and do not want to become an old-time colonial power, clutching a sort of cloudy, semisovereignty over this strip of territory, for its own sake, like some faded banner of past glory.
Our real interest in this canal is simple and concrete and derives from its only real purpose and function. The function of the Panama Canal is to offer transit to the vessels of all nations, those that can fit its locks, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. That is all.
Mr. Chairman, I accept as valid the assurances by the President of the United States, supported by the Secretaries of Defense and State and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the terms of the treaties afford adequate guarantees that this function will continue to be performed without let or hindrance and that there is no serious risk, as a consequence of these treaties, that American vessels, commercial or military, will ever be deprived of full access to this vital passageway between the oceans.
We have no reason, in the face of those solemn and expert assurances, to interpose any less informed judgment to the contrary.
Beyond that, I believe that the continued assertion of sovereignty for no definable further reason over a narrow strip of land, inside and dividing the territory of another country, would not, in the modern world, be an asset, but could, on the other hand, be a liability.
Mr. Chairman, speaking for the AFL-CIO, we therefore support and strongly urge the approval of the Panama Canal Treaties.
[Mr. Meany's prepared statement follows:] PREPARED STATEMENT OF GEORGE MEANY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF
LABOB AND CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS, OCTOBER 11, 1977 Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you to urge approval by the Senate of the Panama Canal treaties.