Page images

Furthermore, its value from a national security standpoint is attested to by heavy use during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Approximately 98 percent of our Navy can use this canal. As an example, in fiscal year 1968, about 70 percent of U.S. Government cargo headed for Vietnam used the canal. U.S. Government vessels passing through the canal increased from 285 in 1964, to 1.504 in 1968; 1,376 in 1969; and 1,068 in 1970 during the height of the Vietnam war.

Also, we must not forget our Navy has declined from 900 ships to less than 500. Adm. Thomas Moorer, immediate past Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, states we no longer have a two-ocean Navy. All of our current major war plans are contingent on the interchange of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Ships of the Third and Seventh Fleets in the Pacific may have to bolster the Second Fleet in the Atlantic, or even the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. All of our military services-Army, Navy, and Air Force-depend on logistical support which transits the canal regularly.

Four former Chiefs of Naval Operations have attested to the strategic importance of the canal in a personal letter to the President. These four great naval strategists-Admirals Anderson, Burke, Carney, and Moorer-have retired from the active service and speak from great experience. In this letter to the President they warned, and I quote: "Loss of the Panama Canal, which would be a serious setback in war, would contribute to the encirclement of the United States by hostile naval forces, and threaten our ability to survive."


Now that we have clearly established the importance of the canal, I want to reject outright the slogan that "Use of the canal is more important than ownership." A more sensible slogan would be, "Ownership assures control."

As a matter of fact, it can be argued that our giving up ownership of the canal would diminish our chances for having free access to the canal, particularly when we consider, for example, Panama's historic instability.

Once the United States gives up sovereign and effective control of the Canal Zone and canal, it will be, in effect, an outsider with highly questionable authority to intervene if the neutrality of the canal is threatened. This country would be in a very difficult position internationally and domestically if it had to resurrect "gunboat diplomacy" and intervene in Panama after we surrender sovereign rights.


In an effort to be brief and avoid repetition of prior testimony, I will attempt to list my reasons for opposing the treaties.


First, the nature of the Panamanian Government. I do not believe we should negotiate on such a vital issue with a government leader who deposed an elected President by military force and over a period of 9 years has not provided the people of Panama free elections. In this

period, the Torrijos government has pushed the national debt from $167 million to over $1.5 billion. Today, about 39 percent of the Panama budget goes to service this national debt. Furthermore, this government of 1.7 million people has promoted close relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union, two expansionist powers unfriendly to our country. I seriously question why we should make national heroes out of government officials who have virtually eliminated all political and civil rights of their people. The documented human rights record of the Torrijos government is one of the worst-I repeat, one of the worst in the world.

One might ask, once sovereignty is given to Panama, will that government remain friendly to the United States? Does the Panamanian Government have the political strength or will to resist outside interference? Does it have the economic vitality to maintain and protect one of the world's vital waterways? What will we be paying after the year 2000 to keep the canal open? If Panama finds it is unable to cope with the complex operation of the canal, to whom will it turn? If to us, it means great outlays of cash. The only other great power to which it could turn would be the Soviet Union, through its figurehead, Castro. Mr. Chairman, I wish to point out that in the prepared statements of Ambassadors Bunker and Linowitz, Secretary Brown, and General Brown, before this committee, not one single time did any of these witnesses mention the name of General Torrijos. That should tell the committee something about the nature of the government to which we are being asked to turn over an approximately $8 billion national and world resource.

Second, sovereignty is surrendered. I further oppose this treaty because it grants to Panama sovereignty 6 months after ratification, not in the year 2000, as the public has been led to believe. Once sovereignty is surrendered, control is lost for all practical purposes, and control governs use.

Now, Mr. Chairman, some people have raised the question that we don't have sovereignty. May I refer you to paragraph 3 of the treaty: "The Republic of Panama grants to the United States all the rights, power, and authority within the zone to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power, or authority." That is the essence of paragraph 3. In paragraph 4 it grants these rights "in perpetuity." That means forever.

Now, I don't know what "sovereignty" is. I don't know whether anybody knows what sovereignty is. But we either have sovereignty or we have the equivalent of sovereignty. and what difference does that make.

Third, U.S. property is surrendered. Six months after ratification of the treaty, the Canal Zone ceases to exist and about 65 percent of the land and 10 of the 14 U.S. bases are given to Panama. The remaining land adjoining the canal itself is under limited U.S. control for the purpose of operating the canal. We oblige ourselves to pay the Panama Government huge sums in various ways, totaling up to nearly $1.5 billion over the next 22 years. By the year 2000, we will be turning over an investment valued at approximately $9.3 billion.

Fourth, our proposed military pact was rejected. Our negotiators sought, but failed to obtain, a military pact with Panama for minimal base rights which would have greatly enhanced our ability to assure the canal's neutrality after the year 2000.

Negotiator Bethancourt stated in his address to the Panama Assembly on August 18 the U.S. desire for defense forces after the year 2000 "created a deadlock in the negotiations for some time because Panama opposed signing of a military pact.

Fifth, are foreign troops allowed? While U.S. negotiators claim the neutrality treaty allows only Panama to maintain troops in its own territory after the year 2000, the treaty is silent-I repeat, the treaty is silent-on prohibiting foreign troops prior to the year 2000. There is nothing to prevent Panama from introducing Cuban, Soviet, or troops of any other nation into those areas of the Canal Zone we surrender 6 months after the proposed ratification of the treaty in 1978. Changing political events could prompt Panama to take such a step. In my judgment, failure to negotiate a prohibition on foreign troops prior to the year 2000 was one of the many errors made by our Canal treaty negotiators.

Sixth, a new canal is prohibited. Another part of the treaty with which I find fault is the provision prohibiting our construction of a sea level canal prior to the year 2000, except in Panama or only with the permission of Panama. In this instance, we have surrendered an option which may be forced upon us. While I feel a sea level canal is unnecessary, why have we foreclosed this option? In doing so, we place ourselves at the mercy of the government which controls Panama.

Seventh, privileged passage is denied. The right to priority passage is also denied us in article VI of the neutrality treaty. Instead of "priority passage" through a canal we built and have maintained for the world's benefit, we are promised only "expeditious passage." Mr. Bethancourt has stated privileged passage sought by our negotiators was specifically rejected. The differences in statements made by the negotiators on the two sides make it unclear what our rights would be in a given situation, although priority passage through the canal could be vital to our national security in an emergency or war.

Eighth, unfriendly ships are assured passage. Presently, as a result of our control of the canal, we could deny passage to adversary ships as a practical matter in time of an international crisis or war. Under the treaty we surrender this right as it cannot be exercised once practical control of the canal is surrendered. This means ships aiding an enemy of the United States could transit supplies through the canal.

Ninth, the ambiguity of the neutrality treaty. One of my most significant concerns is the ambiguity contained in the neutrality treaty. Ambassador Linowitz and others have maintained that no limits were spelled out in the treaty, so we will be free to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the neutrality of the canal.

These remarks might be reassuring to the American public, except for the comments made by Chief Negotiator Bethancourt on these provisions to the Panama Assembly on August 19. He stated and I quote:

Those people believe that the right to intervene is granted, but nobody grants the big powers the right to intervene. They intervene wherever they damn well please, with or without a pact.

There was applause after that remark.

Additionally, in an August 24, 1977 radio broadcast Mr. Bethancourt is quoted as saying: "The pact does not establish that the United States has the right to intervene in Panama. This word 'intervention' was discussed and eliminated."

Later he stated: "The neutrality pact does not provide that the United States will say when neutrality is violated."

Indeed, Mr. Chairman, aricles IV and V of the neutrality treaty are so ambiguous as to lend themselves to various interpretations. This reason alone is sufficient to reject the treaties.


Now I will discuss broad concerns. Mr. Chairman, these are some of the specific concerns I have relative to these treaties. There are other broader issues involved. Will our ratification of these treaties be seen as a pattern of withdrawal in view of our retreat in Korea, Southeast Asia, and possibly Taiwan? This misguided direction of our foreign policy engenders consternation on the part of our allies and audacity on the part of our adversaries.

This type of audacity has even been highlighted by the reckless and provocative statements of Mr. Bethancourt and others about violence. We cannot hope to deal effectively with other nations as a world leader if we yield to blackmail. That is the only word to describe the threats of violence and sabotage which treaty proponents are broadcasting far and wide, and using as their chief argument for ratification. If the Senate were to ratify a treaty in the face of such threats, it would show the world a new policy alien to our national character and our history and which would invite further exploitation.

While I will leave to others the history of our acquisition of this. property, on account of time, no one can deny its benefits to Panama.


Now, what benefits has Panama received? Between 1946 and 1973, according to the House Appropriations Committee hearings, Panama was the recipient of $342 million in total U.S. aid, more per capita aid than was granted to any other country in the world. Benefits to Panamanians in 1975 alone amounted to $29 million in direct purchases in Panama by U.S. agencies: $108 million in wages to non-U.S. citizens, and chiefly Panamanians; and $39 million in expenditures by U.S. employees. We have not exploited Panama. Rather, our aid has enabled its people to enjoy one of the highest GNP's per capita among all 19 Latin American nations, and the highest per capita income in Central America.

Panama has, from 1960 to 1974, a per capita growth rate surpassed only, and barely, by Brazil. Furthermore, U.S. private investments represent 50 percent of the capital investment in Panama.


Now, as to alternatives. Mr. Chairman, I am not opposed to a new arrangement with Panama. but strongly opposed to these treaties. In the past, I have supported the Terminal Lake-Third Lock Modernization Plan. This would provide for approximately $2.5 billion in capital investments over a 5- to 10-year period. Such a major step will provide an opportunity for mutual cooperation and an even greater partnership between the people of the United States and the people of Panama.

Under no circumstances, however, can we afford to cede sovereignty over the Canal to Panama. Stability for the canal can only be maintained by U.S. control. Without sovereignty, we have no control. No provision of the treaties is more detrimental to our national interest than the provision which relinquishes sovereignty and control.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, neither our interests nor the interests of the people of Panama are served by these treaties. The only outcome of ratification can be danger ahead.

Mr. Chairman, I shall be pleased to answer your questions or those of members of the committee.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Senator Thurmond.

Senator Case, do you have any questions?

Senator CASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't believe I have any specific questions.


However, I do want to say that our colleague has presented with force and clarity questions that do exist in this matter and we are grateful to him for bringing them to our attention and to the attention of the American people. The bearing and the weight to be given to them in the scales against considerations that apply on the other side are matters that the committee must weigh. I certainly accept that responsibility as one of great importance.

But nobody, I think, could have presented his side of the case with more effectiveness than our colleague has just done. I am very grateful for this, as is the committee.

Senator THURMOND. Thank you, Senator.

The CHAIRMAN. Let me join in that statement. I have said all along that I wanted us to probe this whole matter just as fully as we can. We welcome the viewpoints of both sides of the issue.

We have had testimony, as you know, from Secretary Vance and the Defense Department people and the present American governing authority in Panama. I want us to get all sides presented. I think you have made a very strong statement and have presented your viewpoints well.

Senator Sarbanes, do you have any questions?

Senator SARBANES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but not at this time.


Senator THURMOND. Mr. Chairman, on the question of human rights, may I take a minute to say another word?

The CHAIRMAN. Please do.

Senator THURMOND. The human rights standing of Panama is given in the Freedom House 1977 comparative survey of freedom.

This comparative survey is used by the State Department in rating countries in presentations by the State Department as required by the Foreign Assistance Act. The Board of Directors of this group includes Mr. Brzezinski on President Carter's staff; former Senator Gale McGee; Senator Jacob Javits of this committee; Mr. Roy Wilkins, the former head of the NAACP; former Senator Margaret

« PreviousContinue »