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Johnson administration, may have opened the back door to eventual war with all of southern Africa, the countries of which are anti-Communist. Seaports and airports in southern Africa, occupied by Red naval forces, could well dominate the sea routes around the Cape of Good Hope and close the alternate passage between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Abrogation of the treaty of 1903 and the recognition of Panama's sovereignty over the Canal Zone territory that would result therefrom, along with integration of the zone with the republic, would be unthinkable.
A complete surrender to Panama of our sovereignty with respect to the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone in favor of a dual managerial and governmental setup, in an area of endless bloody revolution and political instability, could only lead to unending conflicts and recriminations that always accompany extraterritorial jurisdiction; it would mean the scrapping of all laws enacted by the Congress of the United States since 1904 for canal purposes and for governing zone territory, with the loss of our huge investment. Panama does not expect to pay one cent for what it is trying to obtain.
We have permitted transit of vessels that carry munitions and other supplies for North Vietnamese armies. The situation is bad enough as it is, but it would be far worse if Panama became comanager of the canal. In that event, Panamanian policy would be adamant against any use of the canal that might offend Communist powers and our Government would become involved in a constant state of friction with Panama concerning matters of this character.
In 1923 Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes called in the minister from Panama and told him that "it was an absolute futility for the Panamanian Government to expect any American administration, no matter what it was, any President, or any Secretary of State, ever to surrender any part of these rights which the United States had acquired under the treaty of 1903." "This Government," Mr. Hughes said, “could not, and would not, enter into any discussion affecting its full right to deal with the Canal Zone and to the entire exclusion of any sovereign rights or authority on the part of Panama.”
Mr. Chairman, in 1903 the Republic of Panama entered into a solemn treaty with the United States; it should honor the terms of that treaty just as we have carried out our obligations thereunder. The United States has spent billions of dollars to construct, maintain, and operate the Panama Canal; we must keep this important strategic waterway in our possession. The international Communist aggressors are in possession of too many vital locations already; they must be told emphatically to keep their hands off the Panama Canal!
I urge the Committee on Foreign Affairs to report out promptly the strongest possible resolution, in order that we may let the U.S. Senate and the executive branch know that the House of Representatives, the branch that reports to the people every 2 years and is therefore more aware of true public opinion, is emphatically opposed to any effort to surrender the sovereignty of the United States in the Canal Zone.
STATEMENT OF HON ALAN CRANSTON, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF CALIFORNIA*
I am pleased to have the opportunity to express my views to the Inter-American Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the continuing controversy over whether the United States should maintain its sovereignty over the Canal Zone.
I would first like to discuss the notion that the United States owns the Panama Canal Zone. It does not. It never has. It doesn't even have sovereignty over the Canal Zone.
By treaty agreement with the Republic of Panama in 1903, the United States “has the power and authority within the zone which the United States would possess and exercise if it were the sovereign of the territory."
For the past 68 years we have exercised that power and authoritycausing hard feelings, bitterness and scorn between Panamanians and other Latins on the one hand, and the Americans on the other. It led to tragic riots in 1959 and 1964, and to suspension of diplomatic relations between our two countries after the latter incident. I believe it is time to acknowledge that it is no longer to our advantage to maintain this supposedly sovereign position.
We have heard statements to the effect that we must stay supreme in the Canal Zone to protect the canal, and maintain the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere. We have heard statements to the effect that giving up our alleged sovereignty over the Canal Zone is tantamount to relinquishing control of the canal itself. If we place these statements in the context of hard facts-facts which do not get very much publicity or news analysis—we will see that this Nation has been upholding in the Canal Zone the remnants of the “big stick” policy which succeeding administrations have sought to eliminate elsewhere in the hemisphere. We have sought to eliminate this policy with Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy, and later with John Kennedy's Alliance for Progress. Yet we remain in the Canal Zone, waiting for the next riots to occur.
The Canal Zone is a strip approximately 50 miles long and 10 miles wide-5 miles on either side of the canal which bisects it. It was created on the presumption that the United States should have an area within the Republic of Panama over which it could have complete jurisdiction—this because of the great influx of American civilian and military personnel who were anticipated to supervise the construction and later to operate and defend the canal.
Whether or not there was any justification for insisting on a U.S.controlled zone to insure the safety and comfort of Americans who were building the canal in 1903, that justification hardly remains in 1971. There is no question as to the legality of our presence in Panama. It was fully agreed to by the Panamanian Government. For $10 million and $250,000 a year the United States was leased the Canal Zone in perpetuity. It was a contract that fit perfectly well into our quest for territorial expansion and influence at the turn of the century. But one wonders if Panama, in its zeal for independence, struck a bargain with the United States which it probably never would have agreed to under quieter times.
* Commentary by Hon. Daniel J. Flood, a Representative in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania, on excerpts from Senator Cranston's testimony appear on p. 170 of the appendix.
Secretary of State John Hay wrote, in a letter to a leading Senator of the time:
As it stands now, as soon as the Senate votes we shall have a treaty in the main very satisfactory to the United States, and we must confess ... not so advantageous to Panama. You and I know too well how many points there are in this treaty to which a Panamanian patriot could object.
In the years since John Hay wrote that letter, the United States has built what has become a colony of mostly white Americans who reside in the Canal Zone year after year, and some, generation after generation. Most of the Americans who live in the Canal Zone do not have any occupational association with the canal itself. In fact, of the 15,000 workers employed in the Canal Zone, only 4,000 are Americans and of that figure, only 1,289 work on the canal. The other Americans are employed in support services which perpetuate community life such as schools, movie theatres, bowling alleys, commissaries, golf courses and a zoo.
The zone has nicely paved roads, lovely suburban homes, and 15percent differential on top of an inflated pay scale to entice people to come down from the States. The Canal Zone is a far cry from the jungle swampland that Walter Reed and his associates found in attempting to clear the land in the early part of this century. It is a haven of segregated little communities, with whites pretty much having exclusive domicile of the towns of Balboa and Diablo Heights, and non-U.S., Panamanians and Jamaicans living in the Latin communities of Pedro Miguel and Paraiso. It is nonsense for this Nation to perpetuate such an obvious affront to the host country on the excuse that we are thereby better protecting the canal.
The fact is that the Canal Zone has little to do with protecting the canal from invasion. According to Maj. Gen. Donnelly P. Bolton of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, Department of the Army, “No significant Navy or Air Force high performance combat units are based in the zone. Most Air Force activity is oriented toward supporting such activities as disaster relief or military assistance. Navy elements are engaged primarily in administrative and strategic support activities." The Army forces in the Canal Zone consist of one infantry battalion on the Atlantic end of the Zone,
and one mechanized infantry battalion on the Pacific side. General Bolton continues, "Army units located in the zone can be broken down to 46 percent in combat and combat support, and 54 percent in combat service support, headquarters, or military assistance activities.
It is important to note that in case of an attack on the Canal Zone, General Bolton says:
“Reinforcement for the zone would come from the pool of Army and Air Force units assigned to the U.S. Strike Command, MacDili AFB, Fla., and Marine and Naval elements assigned to the CINC, Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Va.
Clearly, the Canal Zone, and the forces residing there, do not provide significant protection for the canal. The real muscle comes from forces based within the continental United States. The Canal Zone-based forces provide little more than police protection in case of an invasion from within the Republic of Panama.
How then can we justify our grand presence in Panama ? How does the presence of a colony of civilians help contribute to the stabilization of this area of the world! Very little. On the contrary, it is my firm belief that the continuing existence of the Canal Zone provides much fuel to the militant factions in Panama and elsewhere in Latin America who point to the Canal Zone as a colonialistic outrage, fenced apart from the horrible slums which neighbor alongside.
I believe the United States should not relinquish its jurisdiction over the zone. The State Department and the President of the United States have recognized that a new arrangement must be effected between our two governments—an arrangement which is fair and equitable, and which does not jeopardize our security or commercial interests. I support these efforts for a new treaty, but I feel that the negotiating team is not seeking to go as far as is necessary to eliminate the wrongful situation which continues to fester like an uncared for wound. The U.S. negotiating team now believes that the Canal Zone should be vastly reduced in size, with commercial interests in the zone assigned to Panama. It does not propose, as has been alleged, to turn over the entire Canal Zone, including the Panama Canal, to Panamanor do I propose such a step. The team has also called for a gradual phase-out of American legal jurisdiction over cases involving Americans in the area.
The idea seems to be that more and more Americans will leave as Panamanians assume more jurisdictional control. I question the need for any continued American control over the affairs of civilian Americans in the Republic of Panama. Does the United States exercise control of this nature in any other area of the world where Americans choose to work and reside? The answer-except in diplomatic missions and on military bases—is no, not even within the Republic of Panama. Why should Americans living in the Canal Zone and working on the Panama Canal be treated any differently? If an American chooses to work abroad elsewhere, he does so knowing that he must abide by the laws and live according to the rules of the host country.
The United States does not need the Canal Zone in order to operate the Panama Canal. Because we permit unrestricted passage to countries of all political allegiances, including North Korea and Communist China, it cannot be said of us, as has been said of Egypt in the case of Suez, that we exclude our enemies.
We should make clear to Panama that in giving up jurisdiction over the zone we are not giving up our military bases, nor the right to defend the canal from alien aggressors or from aggressors within the Republic of Panama, even if our forces must cross over Panamanian soil to do so. Those rights should be an inherent part of the new treaty, and it is a small price for Panama to pay. It will also assuage the fears of those who feel the United States will lose the Panama Canal by making such concessions.
I believe the United States should return all aspects of sovereignty in the Canal Zone back to the Republic of Panama; and that the United States should continue to own and operate the canal as a world utility, retaining all rights to defend the canal, even to the point of moving our armed forces into the Republic of Panama to do so.
We in the United States might look toward our own country to seek an analogy to the Panama Canal Zone situation. What if the British had built the Erie Canal in the early 1800's and set up a zone of their own to run it? How then would the Americans of today feel toward a British colony living alongside of Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland ? Is the only difference really the fact that we Americans are a vast world power, capable of removing such unwanted colonies, while the Panamanians are helpless to do anything about their own situation except make noises which are faint on the world scene?
If we are to behave as the greatest nation in the world—and we must—then we must set a proper example for nations large and small, rich and poor, around the world. We must solve such frictions before they become major confrontations. We must in effect initiate solutions before the guns are fired, and blood is drawn. Too often, we have been a nation of reactors. Let us act in a preventive way, and gain friends who will know that it was the United States that took the first step forward—not a step backward in retreat.
STATEMENT OF Hon. John DowDY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS Mr. Chairman, I am unalterably opposed to allowing the Republic of Panama sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone. The United States acquired its present right to govern and control this vital passageway in much the same way many of our States were acquired. Few, if any, land areas over which we have dominion, means as much to us in both wartime and peacetime as does the Canal Zone. It is a vital lifeline which we must hold and maintain with the same vigilance as we do New York City or Houston, Tex.
Turbulence and revolution seem to be a way of life in many Latin countries. From time to time, and it seems to be the case at present in Panama, governments unfriendly to the United States come to power. Many Latin American governments, at least for considerably periods of time, come under the influence of various foreign powers which are unfriendly to the United States. If our own interests would not otherwise justify our retention of sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone, which they do, this fact of instability in Panama and much of Latin America dictates that we must retain our control over the Canal Zone. Mr. Chairman, I respectfully urge that our present control over the Panama Canal Zone be retained.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOSHUA EILBERG, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the House Inter-American Affairs Subcommittee: I submit this statement in support of