« AnteriorContinuar »
In this regard it is important to remember that Panama, too, declared the 1967 treaties to be unacceptable. In a 1970 explanation of its disatisfaction with the treaties, the Government of Panama rejected U.S. control of the canal, the right of the United States to maintain military forces there, and management of the canal for the benefit of shipping.
Panama has repeatedly expressed its determination to terminate current U.S. rights under the 1903 treaty, end U.S. sovereignty in the Canal Zone, and extend its own jurisdiction into the Canal Zone. Toward this end, the current military junta government in Panama, under dictator Brig. Gen. Omar Torrijos, has been conducting a massive hatefilled propaganda campaign against the United States. I note that many recent examples of the strongly-worded anti-U.S. articles which regularly appear in the controlled Panamanian press have been inserted in the Congressional Record by my colleague from Pennsylvania, Mr. Flood. It is my hope that the subcommittee will direct its attention to these in its consideration of this important issue.
Reference to the current propaganda campaign was also made in an article, entitled "Puzzle in Panama-Torrijos Brings Calm, Prosperity to Nation at Expense of Freedom" (Wall Street Journal, June 17, 1971). Staff reporter James C. Tanner writes, "But now General Torrijos is setting out on a bold new course to build popular support and possibly to put new pressure on the United States as the treaty negotiations approach."***"Some Americans here fear that major demonstrations against the United States will follow, perhaps leading to mob violence and riots similar to those that began in 1967. General Torrijos agrees that there may be violence. But he says this will occur only if the United States again balks on the hot issues of jurisdiction over the 10-mile-wide Canal Zone and Panama's share of the waterway's growing revenues."
This, then, is the unfortunate atomosphere in which the current negotiations between the United States and Panama are taking place. In realization of this and with the history of the 1967 treaties as a lesson, the House of Representatives cannot afford to remain silent. To do so could constitute an abrogation of our constitutional authority over the disposition of U.S. property and, far worse, a failure to fulfill our solemn obligation to see that the vital interests of the United States and its citizens are protected.
The various resolutions currently pending before this subcommittee provide an excellent means for the House of Representatives to fulfill these important responsibilities. These resolutions-including House Resolution 375, which I have cosponsored-put the Members of the House clearly on record in opposition to the surrender of the United States' sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal.
In addition to citing the historic treaties in which the rights and jurisdiction of the United States over the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone are firmly grounded, these resolutions reiterate the vital strategic importance of the canal both to the United States and to the defense of the entire hemisphere. The resolutions also remind us of the tremendous investment which the United States has made in the canal over the years and of the fact that some 70 percent of traffic through the canal either originates or terminates in U.S. ports.
Mr. Chairman, I am aware that the matter of continued U.S. sovereignty over the Panama Canal is only one of the issues of interest to the people of Panama and being discussed in the current negotiations. I can also understand the desire of the people of Panama to work out better arrangements in such areas as economic compensation, increased employment of Panamanians in the Canal Zone, and increased use of Panamanian products and services in the canal operation. It is my belief that while the United States cannot and should not surrender on the question of sovereignty, negotiations might well be in order on these other issues. If the question of relinquishing U.S. sovereignty can be excluded once and for all as a point of negotiation, agreement on these other issues should be greatly facilitated.
Toward this end, I respectfully urge the subcommittee's favorable consideration of the resolutions pending before it and profoundly hope that such action will be taken.
STATEMENT OF HON. J. HERBERT BURKE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
STATE DEPARTMENT DITCHING THE PANAMA CANAL
Mr. Chairman, in 1967 and 1968, I joined with many of our colleagues in urging a halt to the proposed treaty, which would cede control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian Government.
Then, as now, I indicated my opposition and cosponsored legislation which would negate the treaty proposed in 1967. Such a treaty would cede our rights of the Canal Zone and give to Panama the right of its joint administration with us. In addition, the treaty would increase our annual payments to Panama, raise tolls, and force the United States to share its defense and police powers of such canal with the Republic of Panama.
When President Johnson initiated negotiations for this proposed treaty in 1964, he alleged it was to improve our relations with the Government of Panama. You will recall his proposal followed the serious student riots in Panama City of 1958 and 1964.
When some of our House Members called the Nation's attention to the folly of our giving this property away, the public raised their voices in opposition and public opinion forced President Johnson to abandon further efforts for the treaty's ratification.
Today, however, there are still some in the State Department and elsewhere who are pushing this treaty once again. It disturbs me to read news reports that efforts to restart negotiations are once again in the mill, and that the same man who proposed the 1967 treaty is now leading this new attempt. Thus does Ambassador Robert B. Anderson, our former Secretary of the Treasury, come to the fore. I cannot help but ask why, and at the same time question the real motives of those proponents of this plan in our State Department. Once again this seems like a silly attempt to buy friends at the expense of the American taxpayers and what seems to be against our own best interests.
In a memorandum recently issued by the Office of Interoceanic Canal Negotiators, a part of our State Department, it is stated:
Renewal of violence in Panama possibly more extensive than in 1964 might be unavoidable if the treaty objectives considered by the Panamanian people to be reasonable and just are not substantially achieved.
The memorandum further states:
It is our intent to show Latin America and the world that the United States as a great power can develop a fair and mutually acceptable treaty relationship with a nation as small as Panama. Such a treaty must therefore be founded upon common interests and mutual benefits.
To be sure these are fine, idealistic phrases *** but I ask, how foolish can our own State Department get? Especially when our American citizens, for whom they are presumed to be working, are asked to turn over control of a canal that came into being under the terms of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty of 1903 entered into between the United States and the Republic of Panama. This treaty clearly points out the constitutional right and authority of the United States in perpetuity to own, operate, and control the Canal Zone and canal. I admire Panama and its people but certainly we have been gracious to her and her people over the years.
It would be good and refreshing if our State Department would consider some of our own problems, including our national debt, our balance-of-payment losses, our declining dollar value, and all items caused by too much of the giveaway philosophy of the past years. Yet with all the problems we have in our country * * * we still see some in our State Department propounding this absurd scheme. to give away this time a $5 billion U.S. investment, as well as a strategic East-West economic link essential to our own national security. We are told today that the 1967 treaty has now been buried, but we should not be mislead. Ambassador Anderson and his group have issued their final report of the Interoceanic Council which will if not halted now, bring the issue back to life in a new form, but just as dangerous a form. It is now proposed that we build an entirely new canal completely within Panamanian territory, but with the Panamanian Government holding complete soverign rights over this new canal.
This is what is simply known as the old end run trick, thereby circumventing public opinion and Congressional objection. In plain language the "giveawayers" would build the new canal under a new treaty and later, I am sure, would cede the entire operation of the canal to Panama.
The American taxpayer would again be the goat, because it is estimated that the cost of $2.8 billion would be borne mainly by them.
I am informed that these plans are now quietly being discussed and that it is the State Department's hope to get the administration's approval as soon as possible, with the hope of Senate ratification by next spring.
For this reason then, I have joined with a number of our colleagues in sponsoring H. Res. 550 for a sense of Congress Resolution placing our Government on notice that it is our duty to protect our sovereign rights and our jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone and our operation over the Panama Canal.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you and the members of this committee for the opportunity you have given me to testify on this matter.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES A. BYRNE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Chairman and colleagues. Those who know me would never question my strong feelings of the right of self-determination for all peoples; their right to liberty and sovereignty. But truthfully, I do not think that is what we are talking about here today.
None of us, I am sure, are seeking to deny the people of Panama these basic freedoms; that is not my desire and I am sure not yours. What we are really considering here today is not the rights of the people of Panama but the rights of the United States to the Panama Canal.
There is no question in my mind that if it weren't for the United States, there would not be a Panama Canal today; further, there would not even be a Panama. I am not judging nor condoning the politics of the early 20th century, but any student of Pan-American history knows that the so-called Panama Revolution was created to split off the Panama district from Colombia for the purposes of creating the Panama Canal.
Perhaps our fathers were incorrect in their judgment to build the canal at the Isthmus of Panama instead of at Nicaragua. But, nevertheless, Panama was the site and that is the single naval site that links our east and west coast.
The American presence in the Panama Canal Zone is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of necessity-a matter of American survival.
Perhaps we do need another canal because the Panama Canal is indeed becoming obsolete. If so, I would support this construction; but under no circumstances could I condone an American retreat from the Panama Canal Zone until this became a reality.
Yes, there is a lot of passion-fanning going on in Panama—a lot of "Yankee Go Home!" But, I ask you, how can we knowingly condone the cutting of this vital lifeline-under any circumstances.
Remember, we are talking about a tiny sliver of land bordering the canal. This is American territory. It must remain American territory.
I, personally, offer nothing but friendship to the Panamanian people. I sincerely think they need us as badly as we need the canal. We could no more retreat from the Panama Canal Zone than we could from the American east coast.
What I want to see are sober heads and sober thoughts on this issue. There has been too much inflaming going on in Central America. The Panamanian people are our friends. I want to see them healthy, happy, prosperous and free.
But they must realize that the American people cannot, should not, and will not withdraw from this vital lifeline. Let us be friends; let us be partners; but let us also be realistic.
STATEMENT OF HON. EARLE CABELL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
On February 4, 1971. I reintroduced a resolution to the 92d Congress setting forth our policy involving the Panama Canal.
This is the same resolution that was introduced during the 91st Congress by myself and over 100 other Members of the House.
The resolution is as follows: "Resolved by the House of Representatives, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of the United States should maintain and protect its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over said Canal Zone and Panama Canal and that the U.S. Government should in no way forfeit, cede, negotiate, or transfer any of these sovereign rights, jurisdiction, territory, or property to any other sovereign nation or to any international organization, which rights, sovereignty, and jurisdiction are indispensably necessary for the protection and security of the entire Western Hemisphere including the canal and Panama.
Unfortunately, however, no action was taken during the last session. The necessity for the immediate reintroduction of this resolution became critical by the filing of the final report of the Atlantic-Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission established under the terms of Public Law 88-609, authorizing the study of the feasibility of constructing a new trans-Isthmian Canal of level design.
The prime recommendation of this report is for the construction of such type canal entirely in Panamanian Territory about 10 miles west of the existing canal, regardless of the costs or consequences. This recommendation hinges upon surrender by the United States of its sovereign rights, power, and authority over the Canal Zone, would open up a Pandora's box of problems, and be against the best interests of the United States.
The implementation of this report would seriously impair the national defense posture of the United States and could well lead to complete loss, not only of control of these canals, but the loss of our accessibility to their use.
This is entirely probable when one recalls the action taken by Egypt in the seizure and closing of the Suez Canal.
The loss of the Panama Canal through abandonment of our treaty rights would destroy the mobility of our naval forces from ocean to ocean and seriously impair our over-water supply lines.
I hope that sufficient support, both from the public and from the Congress, will avert this dire mistake.
STATEMENT OF HON. DEL CLAWSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, as cosponsor of House Resolution 541, I am pleased to have this opportunity to reaffirm my strong conviction that the United States cannot afford to relinquish sovereignty over the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone at this time or in the foreseeable future, but must in fact increase security precautions in the maintenance and operation of the canal.
The situation with reference to Communist activity in this hemisphere is certainly no less threatening than in the past when we have taken a strong position on canal sovereignty. From a base in Cuba the Communists continue to export subversive agents and propaganda, progressively extending their influence in government after govern