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demands of rapidly increasing world commerce and the advent of modern shipbuilding technology resulting in vessels of much greater size will require major expansion of the capacity of the present canal and probably eventual construction of a sea-level canal in the area. The United States option to expand and modernize the present canal and to construct a sea-level canal in Panama along the route recommended by the Atlantic and Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission are both issues in the current canal treaty negotiations.
Negotiation of new Panama Canal treaties has met substantial opposition in the U.S. Congress, the Department of Defense, and among a variety of interest groups in this country. The principal argument advanced by opponents is that if vital U.S. commercial and strategic interests are to be safeguarded the United States must continue to exercise sole responsibility for the operation, control, and defense of the canal, and must retain sovereignty and U.S. jurisdiction within the Canal Zone area. Also of major concern is United States acceptance of treaty provisions which would limit or reduce the current U.S. military presence in the Canal Zone. Opponents cite the vital strategic function performed by the U.S. military in the Canal Zone in terms of protecting U.S. interests in the canal directly and in serving as deterrent to the ambitions of powers hostile to the United States, thereby safeguarding national security and hemisphere defense interests as well.
Other arguments advanced by opponents of new treaties include: (1) the mandate for permanent U.S. sovereignty and control of the canal and Canal Zone was legally vested in the United States by the 1903 treaty, duly signed and ratified by Panama, and all rights and titles to lands now under United States control were justly purchased by the U.S. Government; (2) under terms of the treaty the United States undertook to construct, and for the past 60 years has continued to effectively maintain, operate, and defend the canal to the benefit of all the world's nations and at a U.S. taxpayers net investment of almost $6 billion; (3) the continued efficient U.S. operation of the canal has resulted in major economic benefits for Panama, providing a major contribution to the Panamanian economy and affording it the highest per capita income in Central America and the fourth highest in Latin America; and (4) Panama's history of political instability and its lack of technical and managerial expertise and other required resources demonstrates that Panama does not possess the capacity to effectively manage, operate, and defend the canal.
Congressional and other opponents of new treaties believe that the United States can continue to make adjustments to improve its relationship with Panama under the existing treaty. Concern for U.S. retention of sovereignty and complete jurisdiction and control of the canal and Canal Zone has resulted in the introduction of numerous resolutions in this and prior Congresses calling upon the United States Government to retain the full rights and status which it now enjoys.
One legislative approach by opponents of new treaties has been the introduction of legislation to implement an earlier proposal to modernize the existing lock canal in lieu of construction of a sea-level canal through Panamanian territory, one of the chief areas of negotiation in the current treaty talks. They argue that implementation of the Terminal Lakes-Third Locks Plan, a project partially authorized by Congress in 1939, would provide for a major increase of capacity and operational improvement of the existing lock canal under present treaty provisions. Such action, supporters believe, would afford the United States the best operational canal at the least cost. It would also obviate the need for new treaties with Panama, thereby eliminating a confrontation with Panama over demand for major concessions that would almost certainly be made in negotiations for a sea-level canal through its territory. Critics of the existing treaties contend that this approach overlooks the basic issue, which is Panamanian dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Meanwhile, the State Department remains hopeful that the draft of a new treaty can be completed by the fall of 1975.
The following bills are a sample of the many that have been introduced recently on the Panama Canal Treaty issue.
S. Con. Res. 78 (McGee) Apr. 1, 1974, 93d Congress :
Expresses it to be the sense of the Congress that negotiations for a new Panama Canal Treaty are necessary in the interests of both the Republic of Panama and the United States. Affirms that, with reference to the promulgation
of such a treaty, the Congress of the United States endorses specified principles agreed to by the United States of America and the Republic of Panama on Feb. 7, 1974, at Panama City.
No action was taken on the bill by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
H.R. 198 (Flood), 94th Congress:
Panama Canal Modernization Act. Directs the Governor of the Canal Zone, under the supervision of the Secretary of the Army, to prosecute the work necessary to increase the capacity and improve the operations of the Panama Canal through the adaptation of the Third Locks Project (House Doc. No. 210, 76th Congress) at a total cost not to exceed $950 million.
Establishes the Panama Canal Advisory and Inspection Board, composed of five members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to study and review plans and designs for the Third Locks Project. Gives the Board powers to carry out the provisions of this Act. Requires the Board to submit an annual report to the President and Congress on the progress of its work.
H.R. 198 was introduced on Jan. 14, 1975, and referred to the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
S. Res. 97 (Thurmond):
Declares it to be the sense of the Senate that: (1) the Government of the United States should maintain and protect its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Canal Zone, and should in no way cede, dilute, forfeit, negotiate, or transfer any of these sovereign rights, power, authority, jurisdiction, territory, or property that are indispensably necessary for the protection and security of the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere; (2) there be no relinquishment or surrender of any presently vested United States sovereign right, power, authority, or property, tangible or intangible, except by treaty authorized by the Congress and duly ratified by the United States; and (3) there be no cession to Panama, or other divestiture of any United States-owned property, tangible or intangible, without prior authorization by the Congress (House and Senate), as provided in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution.
S. Res. 97 was introduced on Mar. 4, 1975, and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Similar to S. Res. 301 (Thurmond), 93d Congress, and H.J. Res. 136 and House Resolutions 23, 24, 40, 61, 63, 74, 75, 92, 105, 127, and 128, 94th Congress.)
Amendment to H.R. 8121 (Snyder):
An amendment to State Dept. Appropriations Bill, Sec. 104: "none of funds appropriated . . . shall be used for the purposes of negotiating the surrender or relinquishment of any U.S. rights in the Panama Canal Zone," passed 246–164, on June 26, 1975.
The Senate struck the Snyder amendment from the Appropriations bill which passed September 3, 1975.
On September 18, 1975, the House-Senate Conference, in lieu of the Snyder amendment, reported a compromise to the effect that: "It is the sense of the Congress that any new Panama Canal treaty or agreement must protect the vital interests of the United States in the operation, maintenance, property and defense of the Panama Canal."
The House, on September 24, 1975, failed (197-203) to recede from its disagreement with the Senate and insisted on the Snyder amendment.
On September 26, 1975, the Senate refused to accept the Snyder amendment and further conference negotiations were scheduled. The House, on October 7, 1975, approved (212-201) a second conference compromise stating the sense of Congress "that any new Panama Canal treaty or agreement must protect the vital interests of the United States in the Canal Zone and in the operation, maintenance, property and defense of the Panama Canal." The Senate accepted the compromise the following day.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Subcommittee on the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations. Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1976. Hearings, 94th Congress, 1st session. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1975. Hearings on Panama Canal, Apr. 17, 1975, p. 1–218.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on InterAmerican Affairs. Panama Canal, 1971. Hearings, 92d Congress, 1st session,
on H. Res. 74, 154, 156, and other resolutions. Sept. 22 [and] 23, 1971. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1971. 173 p.
-United States relations with Panama. Hearings, 93d Congress, 1st session.
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on Inter-
"Serial no. 93-8"
-Panama Canal treaty negotiations. Hearings, 92d Congress, 1st and 2d sessions on treaties affecting the operations of the Panama Canal. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972. 371 p.
Hearings held Nov. 29, 30; Dec. 2, 6, 10, 1971; Jan. 17-18; July 24; Aug. 10, 1972.
"Serial no. 92-30"
-Panama canal treaty negotiations. Hearings, 92d Congress, 2d session. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972. 373-511 p.
Addendum to hearings held Nov. 29
Aug. 10, 1972.
Reports and congressional documents
Dec. 10, 1971; Jan. 17 ..
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on InterAmerican Affairs. Report on United States relations with Panama . . . pursuant to H. Res. 113, 86th Congress, 2d session. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1960. 98 p.
(86th Congress, 2d session. House. Report no. 2218)
Other congressional action
According to U.S. legislative procedure, new treaties would be submitted solely to the Senate for ratification; however, many opponents of new Panama Canal treaties in the House of Representatives have raised the issue that House approval is necessary before any U.S. territory or property under U.S. jurisdiction within the Canal Zone can be ceded to Panama. House members cite as legal justification for their position the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2, which states "The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States." House members who support this position contend that "Congress" must be interpreted as both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and therefore any new canal treaties providing for the disposal of U.S.-controlled territories or properties would be invalid unless the required approval of both Houses were obtained. Language to ensure House jurisdiction had been included in House and Senate resolutions recently introduced. Furthermore, the issue was examined at length during hearings on December 2, 1971, by the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee's Subcommittee on the Panama Canal concerning “Panama Canal Treaty Negotiations" (pp. 95–147).
Chronology of events
October 7, 1975–Backing off from efforts to ban funds for Panama Canal negotiations, the House approved (212-201) a second conference compromise on State Department appropriations stating the sense of Congress "that any new Panama Canal treaty or agreement must protect the vital interests of the United States in the Canal Zone and in the operation, maintenance, property and defense of the Panama Canal." The new compromise added a reference to protecting U.S. vital interests in "the Canal Zone," thus eliminating a principal House objection expressed on September 24. The Senate accepted the compromise the following day. State Department officials said they were pleased with the vote removing the cloud over negotiation funding. September 26, 1975–By voice vote the Senate rejected the House-passed “Snyder amendment" ban on funds for Panama Canal negotiations and asked for new negotiations with the House.
September 24, 1975-Panama's President and the Foreign Ministry formally apologized to the U.S. embassy for the incident of the previous day.
The House voted 203 to 197 to reject the House-Senate conference compromise on State Department appropriations for Panama Canal negotiations which stated the sense of Congress that any new agreement "must protect the vital interests of the United States in the operation, maintenance, property and defense of the Panama Canal." Instead, it restored the "Snyder amendment," passed June 26, barring the use of funds to negotiate the "surrender or relinquishment of any U.S. rights in the Panama Canal Zone." September 23, 1975-About 800 left-wing Panamanian students, demonstrating against U.S. military bases in the Canal Zone, attacked the U.S. embassy in Panama with rocks and Molotov cocktails in the most serious incident since the "flag riots" of 1964. The U.S. embassy delivered a "strong note" of protest to Panama, alleging that the National Guard hesitated before dispersing the crowd with tear gas.
September 20, 1975-Criticizing U.S. demands for the right to defend the Canal "for an indefinite time, which is tantamount to perpetuity," Panama broke negotiation secrecy and publicly disclosed the divergent positions. The report said the United States accepts Panama's desire for a 25-year limit on a new treaty, however, the U.S. seeks rights to defend the Canal for 50 years initially and then for a time which is tantamount to perpetuity. The United States wishes to retain 85% of the Zone and all 14 of the military installations, while Panama wants a reduction of the Zone to 10% of present size and three military installations. Both parties were reportedly agreed that a joint administration would replace the Panama Canal Company, and Panamanian police, postal, and judicial jurisdiction would take effect in the Zone three years after the new treaty. September 17, 1975-As Ambassador Bunker ended the latest 10-day round of negotiations in Panama, claiming that Kissinger's remarks had been "distorted and misinterpreted," he gave Foreign Minister Juan Antonio Tack a statement which said "I am sure that the Secretary meant to say that our country could not renounce our right to defend the canal from foreign enemies until we have achieved with Panama effective agreements for the canal's defense. . As we both know, we are working toward a situation in which the defense of the Panama Canal will be a joint operation, in which the Panamanian National Guard will play an important role." Panama announced that "very little progress" had been made in the recent talks. September 16, 1975-In response to a question by Governor George Wallace at the Southern Governors' Conference in Orlando, Florida, Secretary Kissinger stated that "the United States must maintain the right, unilaterally, to defend the Panama Canal for an indefinite future, or for a long future. On the other hand, the United States can ease some of the other conditions in the Canal Zone." In Panama, Kissinger's remarks, particularly the terms "unilaterally" and "indefinite," were denounced as completely contrary to the February 1974 jointly agreed principles. Bus and taxi drivers went on strike to protest the remarks.
September 3, 1975-Senator Harry Byrd also announced he was delaying an attempt in the Senate to block funds for negotiations on the Panama Canal in response to a request from State Department officials to wait until Ambassador Bunker returns from his September 7 trip to Panama for further talks.
The Washington Post reported that an "internal administration compromise" was reached within the executive branch which essentially will meet Panama's insistence on making the year 2000 the termination date of U.S. authority over the Canal. The Department of Defense had been arguing for extending U.S. authority for 50 more years. There would be continued participation of U.S. forces in the defense of the Canal. In what was interpreted as a symbol of agreement between the Departments of State and Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense Clements, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Brown, and Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs William D. Rogers left (September 2) for a one-day visit to the Canal.
September 1, 1975-The New York Times reported that Ambassador Bunker, scheduled to leave for Panama to open another round of talks after a delay of many months, would propose that the United States turn over operation of the canal by the year 2000 while asking Panama to accept participation of American forces in the defense of the canal for a longer period.
August 11, 1975-An article in the Journal of Commerce reported that according to Panama's consul-general in New York Juan Antonio Stagg, who was formerly a negotiator in the treaty talks, four points still remained to be resolved between the United States and Panama: (1) duration of the treaty -the year most frequently mentioned was 2000; (2) lands and waters necessary to operate and defend the canal; (3) construction of a new sea level canal-Panama will give the United States a 5-year option to undertake a new canal but the United States doesn't want to hurry into it. (4) economic compensation. According to Stagg, the United States would maintain a military presence in the Canal Zone under the new treaty. August 2, 1975-Senator Harry Byrd announced that he was delaying a legislative attempt to block funds for further negotiation on a new Panama Canal Treaty. The Senator had intended to introduce a resolution similar to the Snyder amendment which passed the House on June 26. State Department Officials said that 59 of the 93 Senators present had committed themselves to a move to table the Byrd resolution. July 24, 1975-The head of the Panamanian Government, Gen. Omar Torrijos, warned that further delay in treaty negotiations might cause hostility in Panama that could not be contained, and might even lead to his own overthrow. Torrijos accused the Ford Administration of stalling the negotiations because of political pressures in the United States.
July 23, 1975-An article in the Miami Herald reported that the Panamanian Government, in displeasure over the status of treaty negotiations, resorted to public disclosure of differences between the United States and Panama in a position paper circulated among Panamanian student leaders last week and discussed by Panamanian negotiators in the National Assembly. The action came after General Torrijos charged that the United States violated the secrecy accord by leaking information to the Congress, the Pentagon and civilian residents of the Canal Zone. Among the disclosures reported in the Herald were: the Pentagon wants to hold on to much more land for defense purposes than Panama is willing to concede; the U.S. wants three times more land for the operation of the Canal than Panama will allow; Panama wants a new treaty to expire after 25 years, with full control of the canal reverting to Panama, while the United States wants a 50-year treaty, with 30 additional years if it builds a sea-level canal; both countries agree on the integration of the Canal Zone into the Republic of Panama with three years; Panama would agree initially to allow the United States to keep three of the 14 military installations in the Canal Zore and then gradually eliminate those three; Panama is dissatisfied with a U.S. offer to increase the present $2.3 million annuity to $44 million.
June 26, 1975-In a significant show of congressional sentiment over the Panama Canal treaty negotiation issue, an amendment offered by Representative Snyder to the State Department appropriations bill denying funds for the treaty negotiations passed 246-164.
February 7, 1974-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Panamanian Foreign Minister Juan Tack signed a Statement of Principles establishing eight guidelines for new canal treaties.
September 13, 1973-U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Ellsworth Bunker was officially confirmed as the new chief U.S. Panama Canal negotiator. (Former representative Robert Anderson resigned in July 1973).
March 21, 1973-The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution referring to a new Panama Canal treaty which would "guarantee full respect for Panama's effective sovereignty over all of its territory," on grounds that the treaty negotiations were a bilateral matter. (Of the 15 Security Council members, 13 voted in favor of the resolution, and one abstained). June 29, 1971-The United States and Panama resumed negotiations on new canal treaties.
December 1, 1970-The Atlantic-Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission, in its final report, recommended construction of a sea-level canal in Panama and urged the U.S. Government to negotiate a treaty with Panama concerning the existing canal and sea-level canal providing for their operation and defense "in an equitable and mutually acceptable relationship between the United States and Panama."
September 1, 1970-The Panamanian government notified the United States that the three draft Panama Canal treaties of 1967 were unacceptable as a basis for resuming treaty negotiations.