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Is there any kind of parallel that can be drawn with our present efforts to update and modernize our treaty arrangements with Panama to be more fair and more equitable in the light of present-day circumstances? Isn't it in our national interest to do that? I am not prescribing what those terms must be, but in principle?
Senator DOLE. Right. I think it is a question of whether you just flatly oppose anything or whether you believe there is some flexibility and some room to negotiate. Now that the negotiators have negotiated, it is up to us to look at it and see whether we believe further negotiations are necessary.
GOOD FAITH CHANGES OFFERED
I would discount so-called understandings that would probably be offered. Maybe they are better than nothing, but they really don't bind anyone. I just suggested some changes which I offered in good faith. They may not be perfect. They may be rejected. Some may not be absolutely unnecessary. But in a couple of areas I think we ought to give
them serious consideration.
Senator PERCY. They are excellent thought provokers. I think you have hit some of the most sensitive points that are subject to a great deal of misunderstanding. It could be disastrous for us to agree to this treaty without a clear-cut understanding on some of these issues. "Expeditious passage" in time of war is vital to us. What does it mean? We ought to have no ambiguity about it at all. The time to thrash that out is right now. I concur with you in that.
PAYMENTS AND ANNUITIES TO PANAMA
On the question of payments and annuities to Panama, I took the position while negotiations were still underway that under no condition should we ever require an appropriation by the United States. Whatever we pay Panama ought to be paid out of the tolls. This is the arrangement the treaty calls for.
You have called the annuity payments to Panama provided by the treaty "exorbitant." Under the treaty the United States is granted access to all of our military installations necessary for the defense of the canal. I did ask the administration witnesses the other day to tell us how much we pay for military installations vital to our security in other countries. When we compare the terms of our base agreements with Spain and Turkey, for instance, the payments to Panama are substantially lower-$40 to $50 million, at the outset.
Would you care to comment on that particular aspect of the treaty? Have you taken into account fully, when you call our annuity payments "exorbitant," the fact that we are given without any question certain military rights in the area that we pay other countries substantial amounts for?
Senator DOLE. Well, we have those rights now at $2.3 million a year, and we are prepared to pay up to $70 to $80 million a year, or a total of $2.26 billion between now and the year 2000. It comes from tolls, I understand, but somebody will pay for those tolls. The more that goes to Panama, the less will come to this country.
Now, I don't know-$2 billion used to be a lot of money. It seems to me that that is, as I said earlier, a question of payments, which probably causes more concern to the American people than anything else. I know we are not going to appropriate the money, that it is going to come from tolls. But somebody is going to pay for it in increased shipping costs, and finally the consumer is going to pay for it. Maybe that is the way to handle it.
Senator PERCY. My feeling on that is that the money is the least important element, so long as we do not have to appropriate. We have to appropriate for payments to every other country. This is self-liquidating. It can be paid for out of tolls. We can raise the tolls and charge what the traffic will bear to pay for it.
We are getting a very valuable right here that I think we should not overlook. I would say that the money is less important than some of the very crucial points that you have raised. Our right to intervene to maintain the neutrality of it, through our military intervention; expeditious passage for us in time of war and at other times-those are the crucial things, I think, that you have pointed out. I think the money is less important in this case.
Senator CHURCH. The Senator's time has expired.
I am going to turn the Chair over to Senator Clark because I have to chair a conference on the ERDA-Energy Research and Development Administration-bill.
AMENDMENTS, UNDERSTANDINGS, RESERVATIONS DISTINCTION
But before leaving, I think we ought to understand that treaty law and centuries of precedent make a distinction between amendments, understandings, and reservations.
There is no way the Senate can amend this treaty. The treaty has been negotiated and signed. It is not open to us to amend it without reopening the negotiations and setting this treaty aside and substituting another treaty in its place, which, of course, the Panamanians would have to agree to.
The Senator is correct that we could attach understandings to the instrument of ratification. Those understandings would be unilateral in character. They would be a statement of our interpretation of certain provisions of the treaty.
We could also attach reservations to the Articles of Ratification. Those reservations are conditions upon which the Senate ratifies. Therefore, being conditions, they would have to be submitted to the Government of Panama and Panama would have to decide then whether or not it wished to accept the treaties, subject to those reservations. These are the three courses of action, and the only three courses of action, apart from simple outright rejection of the treaties, that are open to the Senate.
Senator DOLE. But they could do it without renegotiation. There could be on a reservation some express statement from Panama, for example, that it accepts the reservation without changing it.
Senator CHURCH. I would think that the most desirable course would be for the Panamanian Government to clarify its position and thus eliminate any basis for concern as it affects these crucial passages. Absent that, the Senate would have to give consideration to a reservation. Then it would be up to Panama whether or not to accept the reservation.
Those are all matters for the future. We will no doubt get plenty of information between now and then.
Senator Clark, would you take over the Chair, please?
Senator GLENN. Mr. Chairman, before you leave, may I suggest that we pass the resolution that gets S. 897 to the floor? We can't take it to the floor, and I think as long as there are as many Senators here as we have, that we should do that. It is just a technicality. Senator CHURCH. Is this a budget waiver?
Senator GLENN. Right.
Senator CHURCH. Without objection, it is agreed to.
Senator GLENN. Thank you.
Senator DOLE. Was that one of my amendments, perhaps? [Laughter.]
Senator GLENN. It involved cutting out subsidies for Kansas wheat. Senator DOLE. I had better have a reservation to that. [Laughter.]
NATURE OF PANAMANIAN GOVERNMENT
Senator CLARK [presiding]. I think it is my turn to ask questions. I would like to ask you to talk about human rights in Panama and the nature of the Government of Panama.
Your comments seem to indicate that you share the view that General Torrijos is an "unrestricted dictator." What makes you come to that conclusion? Why do you think that General Torrijos is a dictator?
Senator DOLE. I don't know anybody who doesn't think he is a dictator.
Senator CLARK. A dictator in what sense?
Senator DOLE. President Carter said that he is an "enlightened dictator." I have never seen a dictator who was enlightened or unenlightened, so I don't know the difference. Some who do would say that he is an enlightened dictator. I think I will refer to a couple of documents. One is from the State Department and one is from Freedom House. There is a Comparative Survey of Freedoms-Table of Nations, done by Freedom House.
In political rights, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing the lowest degree, Panama ranked as number 7; in civil rights it ranked 6. As I look down the list of all of the countries, Panama is almost in a class by itself.
Senator CLARK. So, would you say that Mr. Torrijos is a kind of unrestricted dictator?
Senator DOLE. I don't know Mr. Torrijos. I just suggest that the studies we have would indicate that Panama does not rank too high as far as political and civil rights are concerned. Let me refer to a State Department document:
They do enjoy a guarantee of life, liberty, and security of person. With very few exceptions it [imprisonment] occurred where individuals were engaged in political activities which the government considers inimical. Nearly all of the exceptions involving arbitrary imprisonment occurred prior to 1972. A noteworthy exception in recent years occurred when 14 participants in the January 1976 political protest, and 3 persons who allegedly fomented riots were exiled. I guess that is one way to handle the problem.
Senator CLARK. That is the kind of thing I am talking about. I am not challenging your statement that General Torrijos is a dictator. I just wanted some evidence of the fact. I assume that if he is a dictator, what he says and does is virtually the law of the land, is it not?
Senator DOLE. I think so.
PANAMANIAN STATEMENTS CONCERNING RIGHT TO INTERVENE
Senator CLARK. If what he says is virtually the law of the land, let me quote to you what he said when he was in Washington on the occasion of the signing of this treaty with regard to the particular point in contention this morning, as to the right to intervene.
This dictator said the following-and he was speaking to the President of the United States:
We are agreeing to a treaty of neutrality which places us under the protective umbrella of the Pentagon. This pact could, if it is not administered judiciously by future generations, become an instrument of permanent intervention.
Now, why should we not take the word of a dictator, as you say, an unrestricted dictator, over the word of a Mr. Guevara, to speak for his own country?
Senator DOLE. I don't want to get into a quarrel of whether he is a good or bad dictator.
Senator CLARK. No, I don't either. That is not my issue at all. That is not my question.
Senator DOLE. There are bad Senators, too.
Again, going back to the cable that I had, it referred to General Torrijos' statement that Panama was "under the umbrella of the Pentagon," and I quote: "The General was stating a fact, not giving the United States any right to intervene." This, again, is Mr. Guevara, who was one of the negotiators.
Senator CLARK. That is my very point. Does one of the negotiators for this dictator take precedence? Does his statement take precedence? Are we to listen to him to interpret the words of the unrestricted dictator?
It seems to me that the words speak for themselves, whatever Mr. Guevara may feel or however he may want or not want to interpret that dictator. If he is the dictator, and he says, as he said in this city to the President of the United States and to the world, that this neutrality "places us under the protective umbrella of the Pentagon," and further, "this pact could, if it is not administered judiciously by future generations, become an instrument of permanent intervention," then that would be it. I assume that if we had to take one person's word in a dictatorship, we would take that of the dictator rather than that of one of the people who works for him.
Now I am not saying that we have to take one or the other. But I must say I would put more credibility in one than in the other if I had to decide.
Senator STONE. Would the Senator yield for one question?
Senator CLARK. Yes.
Senator STONE. If he is a dictator, would he allow Lopez Guevara to get on national television and disagree with his point of view? Senator CLARK. It may be that the assumption of your question is that he is not a dictator. I think I challenge that.
Senator STONE. We can't have it both ways.
Senator CLARK. That is precisely what I am saying.
Senator DOLE. I don't know what Torrijos said when he was here because I didn't see him. But he was a guest in this country and I assume he wanted to say nice things.
Since he went back to Panama, I think he has been quoted as saying that the negotiations are over and in effect "we are not going to accept any changes or amendments to the treaty."
You know, he may not be around after the year 2000. He has been there since 1968 and may not be around in 23 years.
Senator CLARK. We have had four Presidents since he has been in power.
Senator DOLE. That's right.
Perhaps we ought to have Torrijos come up here and visit with the Senators to discuss what he really means. Maybe that is what he means. Maybe there is no difference. Maybe the interpretation is across the board.
Senator CLARK. That leads to my second question.
Suppose that General Torrijos were to issue a statement as the ruler or dictator of Panama to the effect that he agrees with the interpretation of the Secretary of State regarding our right to intervene. Would that be a convincing statement to the Senator from Kansas, or would one still take Mr. Guevara's word?
Senator DOLE. It would be one to which I would give serious consideration.
Senator CLARK. But you do not necessarily think that he would be the appropriate
Senator DOLE. I don't want to characterize whether I would oppose
Senator STONE. Would the Senator yield?
Senator CLARK. I think I will yield on the Senator's time when it
Senator STONE. I am agreeing with you, Senator.
Senator CLARK. I know. I understand that. I have one convert, but not necessarily a second.
Senator DOLE. Not all the way.
Senator CLARK. I share the view that Senator Church and others express here, that the differing interpretations of the various negotiators is a serious problem and it is one that has to be addressed. I don't mean to denigrate that at all. I think it has to be addressed. If this treaty is going to pass, that has to be dealt with and these ambiguities have to be clarified.