« PreviousContinue »
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That there be printed for the use of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations two thousand five hundred additional copies of each part of its hearings entitled "Panama Canal Treaties”.
J. S. KIMMITT.
Wednesday, October 5, 1977--
Allen, Hon. James B., U.S. Senator from Alabama__
Corrada, Hon. Baltasar, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and
Member, U.S. House of Representatives--
"Laxalt Testifies at Panama Canal Hearings," News release, October
PANAMA CANAL TREATIES
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1977
UNITED STATES SENATE,
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations met, pursuant to notice, at 9:47 a.m., in room 4221, Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Honorable John Sparkman (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Sparkman, Church, Pell, Clark, Biden, Sarbanes, Case, Javits, and Percy.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Thurmond, I don't like to keep you waiting, but I do want other members of the committee to be here. According to the list given me, we are due to have 10 members of the committee here, and I would like for as many of them as possible to hear all of your testimony. So, I hope you won't mind our waiting a little while longer.
Let the committee come to order, please.
The committee this morning is continuing its consideration of the proposed Panama Canal treaties. Today and tomorrow have been set aside for testimony from Members of Congress.
To get this morning's hearing underway, we are pleased to have the senior Senator from South Carolina, our colleague and friend, Senator Strom Thurmond.
Following the Senator's oral presentation, we will proceed with questions under the 10-minute rule.
Senator Thurmond, that does not mean that you have to limit your answers to 10 minutes. It means that we have to limit our questions to 10 minutes.
We are very glad to have you here. Other members are on their way here, we are told. We would be very glad to start with you now, if you will. Before you begin, however, I will ask Senator Percy if he has any opening remarks.
Senator PERCY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
OPENING REMARKS OF SENATOR PERCY
I will have to excuse myself in a few minutes to go over to the Judiciary Committee to introduce two Federal judges from Illinois. I know that Senator Thurmond will understand this as he is a member
of that committee. I will be right back, though. I did want to explain why I would slip out for a few minutes.
I certainly welcome you very warmly this morning, Senator Thurmond. This committee is anxious to hear your views.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Thurmond, we have a copy of your prepared statement. That will be placed in the record in its entirety. You may proceed as you wish. You may read it, discuss it, or summarize it, as you wish.
STATEMENT OF HON. STROM THURMOND, U.S. SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am here this morning to present to the committee and to the American people my reasons for opposing the treaties with Panama.
My interest in the Panama Canal is longstanding. Over the years I have introduced several bills to modernize the Panama Canal. In the 94th Congress, I offered a resolution signed by 38 other Senators opposing the surrender of this waterway to Panama. Last August, I visited the Canal Zone for briefings and study to ascertain any changes since my previous visit several years before.
While I recognize the need for some adjustments with Panama concerning the Panama Canal, I see the retention of U.S. sovereignty as basic to continued "practical control" of the canal, which even the President himself has expressed as being necessary.
My 1976 resolution was more than sufficient warning to both the Ford and Carter administrations relative to the Senate's concern in this matter and to alert the Government of Panama that the treaties would be scrutinized closely.
Yet, the treaties have been signed with great fanfare, and the threats from Panama strongly suggest either we ratify or pay the consequences of violence and disruption in the Canal Zone. In fact, Panamanian Chief Negotiator Escobar Bethancourt went so far as to say, "This country"-Panama-"would take a course of violence" if the treaties are not ratified.
At no time in my memory have such threats and pressure been exerted on the Senate as is the case with these treaties. In making our decision, however, we must rationally decide what is in the best interest of our Nation, irrespective of the pressures and threats directed toward
IMPORTANCE OF CANAL
I disagree completely with Ambassador Linowitz's statement to this committee last week that the canal has become "economically obsolescent." This statement is designed to denigrate the importance of the canal and thus make the proposed treaties more palatable. The canal is one of a very few vital world waterways. It permits rapid two-ocean commerce very beneficial to our Nation. In 1975, about 14.000 ships transited the canal. Approximately 70 percent of the traffic originated in the United States or was bound for the United States. It is estimated that 45 percent of Alaskan oil will be shipped through the canal by 1980.