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[The information referred to follows:]



October 5, 1977

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The explanation of the Panama Canal Treaties offered by Administration witnesses before your Committee last week is accurate.

Under the new Treaties, and particularly the neutrality Treaty, Panama and the United States have the responsibility to assure that the Panama Canal will always remain open, secure and accessible to ships of all nations. Accordingly, Panama and the United States each will have the right to take any appropriate measures to defend the Canal against any threat to the regime of neutrality established in the Treaty.

The Treaty does not give the United States any right to intervene in the internal affairs of Panama, nor has it been our intention to seek or to exercise such a right.

We firmly believe that the Treaty arrangements amply protect the Panama Canal as an international waterway, serve the interests of both countries, and form the basis of a new partnership based on mutual respect between Panama and the United States.

We are, of course, in continuing contact with the Panamanian Government to clarify any points of interpretation regarding the Treaties which may arise in either country.


Warren Christopher

Warren Christopher
Acting Secretary

The Honorable

John J. Sparkman,

Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations,
United States Senate.

Senator DOLE. Does he mention priority passage?

Senator CHURCH. No. He mentions simply the neutrality question in this letter.

In my judgment, both the provisions relating to the neutrality guarantee provisions of the two treaties, and the right to expeditious passage are provisions that we could fairly regard as crucial.

I want to make this observation. Who speaks for the Government of Panama? I don't know whether Carlos Lopez Guevara speaks for the Panamanian Government. I would assume that the President of the country would speak for it.

There is little question, I think, in the committee's mind that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chiefs of Staff, those who have spoken on behalf of these treaties can speak for the administration in this matter.

But, let it be clear that the Senate is not likely to ratify these treaties if crucial provisions are being interpreted differently by the principal parties: the Government of the United States and the Government of Panama. This is a matter that must be clarified.

I completely disagree with those witnesses who say, "Well, it really doesn't matter. Our interpretation will be controlling because we possess the physical power to make it so."

The reason that we are entering into this treaty is, as Warren Christopher has stated it, to create a new partnership based on mutual respect between Panama and the United States, and indeed, perhaps to launch a new era in American relations with all of the countries south of our border.

That means that we must enter into a treaty we expect to keep, not one that we expect to disregard whenever the occasion suits us.

So, I reject the argument that "might makes right." If we ratify these treaties, it is because we think they are right and it is because we think we shall abide by the treaties, not disregard them, in the future.

Therefore, I can simply say to you, Senator, these are crucial provisions in the treaty, and if there is a different interpretation being placed upon these provisions by the Government of Panama than we place upon the provisions, now is the time to find out.

Senator DOLE. I agree with you.

Senator CHURCH. I hope that this message comes through loud and clear; otherwise, this is going to become a tangle, then a morass, then finally a kind of legislative catastrophe. There is nothing which in my judgment would be more serious or more fraught with peril for our future relations with the countries of this hemisphere than to have these treaties repudiated by the United States Senate. But we had better be sure before we act that we don't interpret these crucial provisions one way while Panama interprets them another.

I think I have used my time.

Senator DOLE. I didn't get the question, Senator.

Senator CHURCH. I never got to the question myself.

[General laughter.]

Senator CHURCH. I think the questions are going to have to be addressed to the Government of Panama.

Senator DOLE. I can only agree with what the Chairman has said. I hope we have acted responsibly in raising the questions. I certainly share the view you have just expressed. If we don't have the answers, we are going to have problems come next year. It is going to be a long year anyway. I don't know how this committee finally determines that we are on the same wavelength insofar as what different words may mean, or what "expeditious passage" may mean and what the "right to intervene" may mean. But it appears that the administration witnesses view it differently, obviously, than Mr. Guevara, who was one of the negotiators. He is not just some Panamanian. He was one of the negotiators. I think he understands pretty well what he felt they agreed upon.

Senator CASE. Would the Senator permit me to intervene at this point on my time, please?

Senator CHURCH. Yes. In fact, I recognize Senator Case.
Senator CASE. Thank you.


This is, in fact, a most important matter, and we have recognized it as such throughout our consideration so far. To make that clear I just want to remind everyone that Senator Sparkman and I have asked the State Department to monitor all public statements being made in Panama about this thing, up to the time of the referendum on October 23 so that we will know what Panamanian leaders are telling their people and the information on which the people are going to take action in the referendum.

We don't want any kind of double understanding or misunderstanding on any of these important matters. The committee is thoroughly aware of this and has moved to assure itself and the people of the country that this is so.

I shall not take any more time. I am grateful to Senator Dole for his presentation on many of these things. If we consider them serious— and I am not talking about misunderstandings or misinterpretations or double meanings or anything like that-that is, some of the concrete points, such as the amount of money and so forth, we might have to renegotiate the treaty if we took the view that this was desirable. I state no opinion on that except that I do want to point out that all of the money that is going to be paid, except for these special arrangements in regard to programs under aid, which shall be loan programs, and programs of the Export-Import Bank, which are normal on-going programs of this country in any event, is going to come out of the revenues of the canal. So it is not a Treasury operation. We were very strong in requiring the administration and the Treasury Department representatives particularly to assure us that this is so.

I think at this point that I shall be content to yield the balance of my time. I will give a most careful study to the suggestions and the proposals that the Senator has made. I am grateful for them.

Senator CHURCH. Thank you very much, Senator Case.

Senator Stone.

Senator STONE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Chairman, in the letter you have just read into the record, Mr. Warren Christopher, the Acting Secretary of State, says, and I quote :

The treaty does not give the United States any right to intervene in the internal affairs of Panama, nor has it been our intention to seek or to exercise such a right. Yet, Ambassador Linowitz, in responding to the four points that I raised during his testimony said:

Finally, on the question of our right to take action under article IV, 22 weeks after he spoke, General Torrijos, his chief, came here and signed those treaties. Senator STONE. But all he said was "umbrella of the Pentagon."

Ambassador LINOWITZ. No; he didn't. He said, "This pact, if not applied judiciously by future generations, can involve permanent intervention."

So, we have a conflict between the statement of today and the statement of the Ambassador quoting General Torrijos as to whether or not we have the right to intervene.

But, what I think is more to the point that Senator Dole has raised and what Secretary Christopher seeks to allege is the interpretation given in Panama. The cable which Senator Dole has read into the record today refers to Lopez Guevara's private conversation. In that cable it refers to the fact that Lopez Guevara was going to make a public speech that night and clear up the matter.

That speech was made over national television. I have an unclassified telegram which was given to the committee staff and which I have underlined. I would like to read two sections of that unclassified telegram of the Secretary of the Department of State reporting Lopez Guevara's speech made after this cable was sent. I will quote:

I have heard it said that the United States has the right to intervene in Panama after the year 2000. It is sad to see highly responsible officials in the United States say that this Neutrality Treaty grants the right of intervention. It is sad to note this inconsistency, not only because there is nothing in this treaty to serve as a basis for such a claim, but also because the term "intervention" has been left out of international diplomatic jargon since World War II, since the time when the U.N. Charter was signed. It is almost as if we said that we are reviving piracy or letters of marque (patente de corso). Intervention has disappeared as a right and practice. There might be intervention a thousand times over, but never authorized intervention. Intervention might occur by virtue of force or de facto occurrences (cuestiones de hecho), but may this treaty never be said to contain a basis for intervention.

Second, he spoke on the preferential passage question, and I quote: Article VI is also the subject of much debate, particularly in the United States at the present time, because in section 1, the war and auxiliary vessels of the United States and the Republic of Panama are entitled to transit the Panama Canal expeditiously. And one can hear abusive interpretations of this term expeditious. Let us state very clearly expeditious does not mean priority or preferential treatment. Let us state this very clearly. And we say this very clearly because this is exactly what the United States proposed in May of this year. In May of this year, the United States proposed that in time of war or grave emergency these ships have the rights to transit the waterway on a preferential basis. But this proposal was rejected by the Republic of Panama. Reference is made to priority in the 1967 treaties, in article XXXIV, section 4. We are talking about expeditious transit, which in a negative way does not mean preferential treatment, I repeat, because this U.S. proposal was rejected by the Panamanian negotiating team.

That was paragraph 8 of his speech.

Paragraph 9 reads, and this is where I will conclude:

However, I have heard it said that expeditious means "ahead of the line" [quoted phrase spoken in English-FBIS], at the front of the line. And from where does this interpretation come, when the history of the negotiations reveals that every notion of preferential treatment was rejected? And why, why, did Panama reject this idea of preferential treatment? Because it is a contradiction of terms. Article IV and this entire treaty consecrate neutrality, and neutrality, according to all definitions I have seen and according to all the experts means that this principle of impartiality runs, like a conducting wire, through the entire right of neutrality. Neutrality means equality in transit, impartiality, equilibrium, balance, no discrimination between two belligerent parties.

And he goes on. I would ask at this time that the entire cable be put in the record, as a supplement.

Senator CHURCH. Without objection, the cable will be included at this point in the record.

[The information referred to follows:]

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To: Secstate Washington immediate.

Subject: Negotiator speaks on national television.
Reference: Panama 3949.

1. Following are excerpts of speech by negotiator Carlos Lopez-Guevara televised on September 30. (See FBIS PA911512Y Oct). Excerpts from speeches by other negotiators will be sent by separate cable.

2. Quote . . . In article 1, the Republic of Panama declares that the Panama Canal, as an international waterway, shall be permanently neutral in accordance with the regime established in this treaty. There are two basic conclusions (consecuencias) in this phrase. First, that it is Panama that declares this neutrality. This is a unilateral declaration. This is a neutrality with political and juridical scope. Nobody can deny or argue against the political and juridical scope of this declaration by Panama as territorial sovereign. In political terms it means a recognition by the United States that Panama alone is competent to make this declaration of neutrality because only a sovereign can encumber itself (puedeg gravarse), because only a sovereign can assume the grave responsibilities entailed in neutrality. Neutrality, then, must be declared unilaterally, if the sovereignty of every country is to be respected. And the other conclusion in this very brief declaration is that the Panama Canal is an international transit waterway. We cannot do as we please with the canal. We have undertaken for the international community the grave responsibility of conserving this waterway, of maintaining it efficiently, of handling it with a sense of responsibility. The second aspect of this article is that if a canal is built through Panama, or through a part of Panama and of Colombia, for instance, this same regime of neutrality would be applicable to that new canal. It also has been stated that the canal will be permanently neutral. However, I have heard here and there that permanently neutral is a negative concept, that it means perpetuity with another name. What is wrong with our declaring a permanent neutrality? Is not Switzerland's neutrality permanent? Is not Austria's neutrality permanent? And has Switzerland not been blessed by peace amid so many wars in Europe? That is what we are seeking: The benefits of peace. And they can be obtained only by a permanent neutrality.

3. Neutrality can only operate in times of war. Neutrality cannot be conceived in peacetime. But how can we say this and immediately state that neutrality is permanent? Is there no contradiction in this assertion? There is no contradiction. What permanent neutrality means is that if a war takes place, the belligerent nations will know beforehand that the canal will be neutral, that it will remain open on a basis of equality to all belligerent parties. Through this we achieve the objective that is set forth in article 2, that is, the reason for the neutrality. And we state that we want it this way so that the Isthmus of Panama will not be the target of reprisals in any war among other nations of the world. We seek to achieve the same as Switzerland. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 saw Prussia

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