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U.S. ACQUIRED OWNERSHIP OF ALL PRIVATELY OWNED LAND AND PROPERTY IN THE
In addition to the grant of full sovereign right, power and authority over the Canal Zone, the United States obtained title by purchase of all privately owned land and property in the territory from individual property owners, making the Canal Zone the most costly territorial acquisition in the history of the United States (Ho. Doc. No. 474, 89th Congress, p. 361.)
These purchases included all works of the French Panama Canal Company and all the stock of the Panama Railroad Company, the latter then a New York corporation.
EXCLUSIVE U.S. CONTROL OVER CANAL ZONE RECOGNIZED BY PANAMA, 1904 When was exclusive control by the United States over the Canal Zone recognized by Panama? This was done on May 25, 1904, in a note by Secretary of Government Tomás Arias, which stated: "The Government of the Republic of Panama considers that upon the exchange of ratification of the treaty for opening an interoceanic canal across the Isthmus of Panama its jurisdiction ceased over the Zone . . ." That exchange occurred on February 26, 1904, in Washington.
SECRETARY HAY CLARIFIES SOVEREIGNTY QUESTION, 1904
The ink was hardly dry on the 1903 Treaty when Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama José D. de Obaldia, in a note to Secretary of State Hay on August 11, 1904, raised the sovereignty issue. (Foreign Relations, 1904, pp. 598-607.) In reply to the Panamanian Government's contention that the works "construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and protection" of the canal as used in the treaty constituted a "limitation on the grant," Secretary Hay, on October 24, 1904, wrote a comprehensive reply that is still classic. (Ibid., pp. 613-30.)
In this reply Secretary Hay explained that the words, "for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and protection of said canal" were not intended as a "limitation on grant" but were a "declaration of the inducement prompting the Republic of Panama to make the grant." (Ibid., p. 614.) He then asserted that the "great object sought to be accomplished by the treaty is to enable the United States to construct the canal by the expenditure of public funds of the United States-funds created by the collection of taxes . . ." (Ibid., p. 616.) Though Secretary Hay in this note did refer to Panama as the "titular sovereign of the Canal Zone," he declared that such sovereign is "mediatized by its own acts, solemnly and publicly proclaimed by treaty stipulations, induced by a desire to make possible the completion of a great work which will confer inestimate benefit on the people of the Isthmus and the nations of the world." He also stated that it was difficult to conceive of a country contemplating the abandonment of such a "high and honorable position, in order to engage in an endeavor to secure what at best is a 'barren scepter'." (Ibid. p. 615.)
In addition, the evidence is conclusive that under no circumstances would the United States have assumed the grave responsibility maintaining, operating, sanitating, and protecting the Panama Canal in an area notorious for tropical disease and endless turmoil under a weak and helpless emergent government except for the grant of full sovereignty over the Canal Zone and Canal.
SECRETARY OF WAR TAFT EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS ON CANAL SOVEREIGNTY, 1905-06 When discussing the question of United States power on the Isthmus on January 12, 1905, in a report to President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of War Taft made the following statement:
"The truth is that while we have all the attributes of sovereignty necessary in the construction, maintenance, and protection of the Canal, the very form in which these attributes are conferred in the treaty seems to preserve the titular sovereignty over the Canal Zone in the Republic of Panama, and as we have conceded to us complete judicial and police power and control over the Zone and the two ports at the end of the canal, I can see no reason for creating a resentment on the part of the people of the Isthmus by quarreling over that which is dear to them but which to us is of no real moment whatever." (Quoted in Hearings before Senate Committee on Interoceanic Canals, 1907, Vol. III, p. 2399.) This statement referred to Panamanian claims of being the token sovereign of the Canal Zone.
Again on April 18, 1906, when commenting on Article III of the 1903 Treaty in testimony before a Senate Committee, Secretary Taft stated:
"It is peculiar, in not conferring sovereignty directly upon the United States, but in giving to the United States the power which it would have if it were sovereign. This gives rise to the obvious implication that a mere titular sovereignty is reserved in the Panamanian Government. Now, I agree that to the Anglo-Saxon mind a titular sovereignty is like . a barren ideality, but to the Spanish or Latin mind, poetic and sentimental, enjoying the intellectual refinements, and dwelling much on names and forms, it is by no means unimportant." (Hearings before Senate Committee on Interoceanic Canals, April 18, 1906, Vol. III, p. 2527.)
These were courteous efforts by Secretary Taft to sooth the sensibilities of our Panamanian friends but never with the thought or purpose of surrendering the actual, necessary and exclusive sovereign rights, power and authority of the United States over both the Canal and its indispensable protective frame of the Canal Zone. The term "titular sovereignty" means nothing more than a reversionary interest on the part of Panama in the sole event the United States should abandon the Panama Canal as in the case of the execution of a reversionary deed of property in Anglo-Saxon countries. Hence, there can never be any reversion of the Canal Zone to Panama unless our country abandons the canal enterprise, which includes the Zone.
Unfortunately, many writers have quoted Secretary Taft out of context and this practice has led to much public confusion as to precisely what he said and meant. Some of this confusion is not accidental especially on the part of certain officials of our government who through motives of appeasement have pursued a weak and unrealistic course.
PRESIDENT-ELECT TAFT EMPHASIZES NECESSITY FOR FULL U.S. CANAL CONTROL,
After Secretary Taft's election as President, Panama Canal construction was well underway. In an address on the work at New Orleans on February 9, 1909, the President-elect made the following remarks:
"Because under the treaty with Panama we are entitled to exercise all the sovereignty [in the Canal Zone] and all the rights of sovereignty that we would exercise if we were sovereign, and Panama is excluded from exercising any rights to the contrary of those conceded to us that is a ticklish argument, but I
do not care whether it is or not. We are there. We have the right to govern that strip, and we are going to govern it. And without the right to govern the strip, and without the power to make the laws in that strip bend, all of them, to the construction of the Canal, we would not have been within 2 or 3 or 4 years, hardly, of where we are in the construction." (Ho. Doc. No. 474, 89th Congress, p. 52.)
Those unqualified words of President-elect Taft are even more applicable today than in 1909, for the Panama Canal has become one of the greatest maritime crossroads in the world with an estimated transit total in 1971 of 15,550 vessels, which is an average of 42.6 per day. (Hearings before Subcommittee of Committee on Appropriations for 1972, Pt. 2. p. 312.)
PRESIDENT TAFT OUTLINES U.S. POLICY ON CANAL ZONE SOVEREIGNTY AND
Again as President of the United States on November 16, 1910, while attending a banquet given by the President of Panama, Mr. Taft made this significant statement:
"We are here to construct, maintain, operate and defend a world Canal, which runs through the heart of your country, and you have given us the necessary sovereignty and jurisdiction over the part of your country occupied by that canal to enable us to do this effectively." (Canal Record, Vol. IV, (Nov. 23, 1910), p. 100.)
This was not an exercise in banquet comradery but an unchallenged statement of policy as to the Panama Canal enterprise by the President of the United States, which policy is now being bitterly assailed by an unconstitutional government in Panama founded by force and violence and which might be superseded at any time by a Constitutional government that would reverse the policy of the revolutionary regime.
Again on December 5, 1912, pursuant to the Panama Canal Act of 1912 and in conformity with treaty provisions, President Taft in an Executive order declared that
"All land and land under water within the limits of the Canal Zone are necessary for the construction, maintenance, operation, protection and sanitation of the Panama Canal." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1971, Vol. 17, p. 206.)
There are greater needs for this area now than there were at that time. In fact the Canal Zone Territory should be extended by the purchase of the entire watershed of the Chagres River that provides the summit level water supply as was once recommended by General Clarence Edwards when he was in command of U.S. Forces on the Isthmus.
SECRETARY OF STATE HUGHES DEFENDS U.S. SOVEREIGNITY OVER CANAL ZONE, 1923 In early 1923 the Panama Government attempted to reopen negotiations for a new canal treaty (Foreign Relations of the United States, 1923, Vol. II, pp. 638-48). Secretary of State Hughes studied the history of our relations with Panama, called in the Panamanian Minister and, with a refreshing degree of candor, stated that the U.S. Government "could not and would not enter into any discussion affecting its full right to deal with the Canal Zone under Article III of the Treaty of 1903 as if it were the sovereign of the Canal Zone and to the entire exclusion of any sovereign rights or authority on the part of Panama." To this he added that, "it was an absolute futility for the Panamanian Government to expect any American Administration, no matter what it was, any President or any Secretary of State, ever to surrender any part of these rights which the United States had acquired under the Treaty of 1903." (Ibid. p. 684.) That forthrightness on the part of Secretary Hughes met with the situation for many years. The present Secretary of State should speak out with like candor in defense of our just and indispensable authority over the Canal Zone. The argument made that the United States does not need all the Canal Zone territory to protect the Canal is unrealistic because any part of it might be needed in time of war to create defenses and to deploy the protective forces for the Canal and Panama itself.
During the construction of the Canal the State Department did not control policy as regards the Canal Zone, and construction went forward effectively and expeditiously. After the completion of the Canal the State Department got its nose into the tent and finally its body. Ever since it has muddled our Isthmian policy by weakness, timidity and vacillation, rendering some of the consequent problems almost beyond solution.
HULL-ALFARO TREATY OF 1936-39 STARTED OUR GREAT GIVE-AWAY PROGRAM Because of the economic support of the Panama Canal, the full effects of the Great Depression of 1929 were not felt in Panama until 1932 when they stimulated agitations for a new treaty. With the change of administrations in the United States in 1933 our government weakened as to the earlier official positions taken by President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretaries Hay and Hughes, and negotiated the Hull-Alfaro Treaty of 1936 with Panama.
Because of a strong opposition in the Senate it was not ratified until 1939 just before the start of World War II. In this treaty, the United States made important concessions to Panama, which included the construction of a Trans-Isthmian highway in Panama extending through the Canal Zone to Colón, giving Panama jurisdiction over that highway in the Zone, renunciation of the right of eminent domain in the Republic of Panama for Canal purposes, and surrender of U.S. authority to maintain public order in the cities of Panama and Colón and adjacent areas. In a realistic sense this treaty was the start of our great giveaway programs, causing serious difficulties in obtaining military bases in Panama for defending the Panama Canal in World War II and creating dangerous precedents. A positive result of the treaty, however, was that Panama recognized that the word "maintenance" in Article I of the treaty allowed "expansion and new construction" when undertaken in accordance with the treaty, that is, for the maintenance, operation, sanitation and protection of the existing Canal.
It was under this authority that the Congress enacted legislation for the Third Locks Project soon afterward and on which more than $76,000,000 was expended before it was suspended in May 1942 because of more urgent war requirements.
The useful work accomplished on this project included huge lock site excavations at Gatun and Miraflores for the proposed larger locks, which could be used for the modernization of the existing canal; and for which a new treaty would be
CHAPIN-FABREGA TREATY FURTHER WEAKENS JUDICIAL STRUCTURE, 1955
By 1953 agitations were well underway in Panama for the Chapin-Fábrega Treaty, which without adequate understanding or debate, was ratified in 1955. This treaty gave further concessions to Panama, including provisions for the construction by the United States of a free bridge across the Canal at Balboa to supersede the Thatcher Ferry, relinquishment of the right to enforce health and sanitation ordinances in the cities of Panama and Colón, and the cession to Panama without any compensation whatever of the terminal yards and passenger stations of the Panama Railroad. The last was a clear violation of the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty of 1914-22 with Colombia, which gives that country important rights in the use of both the Panama Canal and the Railroad.
The 1955 Treaty completed the withdrawal of the United States from Panama to the boundaries of the Canal Zone but did not alter the basic sovereignty and perpetuity provisions of the 1903 Treaty as regards United States exclusive sovereign control in perpetuity of the Canal enterprise, which includes the Zone.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN FOSTER DULLES DEFENDS U.S. POSITION
Following the nationalization by Egypt in 1956 of the Suez Canal, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, whose connections with the Panama Canal dated back to World War I, issued an order that no officer of the U.S. Foreign Service in conversation, speaking or writing, was to equate the status of the Panama Canal with that of the Suez Canal, and that violators would be disciplined (Congressional Record, Vol. III, Pt. 19 (Oct. 5, 1965), p. 25974). That order was the last strong statement by a Secretary of State as regards U.S. sovereignty, over the Canal Zone, Secretary Dulles' successors, less conscious of the realities involved, gradually weakened and the aggressiveness of Panamanian radicals correspondingly increased. No high official of our government spoke out as they should have done. Thus matters took their retrogressive course.
U.S. FORMAL RECOGNITION OF PANAMA TITULAR SOVEREIGNTY LEADS TO HEAVIER DEMANDS, 1958
On May 2, 1958, there was an organized mob invasion into the Canal Zone called Operation Sovereignty. Red-led Panamanian University students planted 72 Panama flags at various spots in the Zone, including some squarely in front of the Canal Administration Building. Instead of acting promptly to arrest and punish the trespassers, our responsible authorities naively ignored the incidents as youthful pranks. Instead of pranks they were probes of our government's will power to stand up for the just and indispensable rights of the United States at Panama.
Soon afterward, during a July 12-16 visitation in the Canal Zone by Dr. Milton Eisenhower, President Ernesto de la Guardia, Jr., told him that flying the Panama flag in the Zone would promote cooperation. That was a very suave statement.
Following the riots of November 3, 1959, which required the use of the U.S. Army to protect the Canal Zone from mob invasion, Under Secretary of State Livingston T. Merchant visited the Isthmus and, under instructions, publicly announced that the United States recognized Panama's titular sovereignty over the Canal Zone but, quite significantly, did not define that term.
As predicted by me in the Congress at the time that disingenuous action did not beguile Panamanian radicals but simply whetted their appetites for more concessions.
U.S. CONGRESS OPPOSES SURRENDERS AT PANAMA, 1960
Reactions in the Congress were quickly forthcoming. On February 2, 1960, the House of Representatives, by the overwhelming vote of 382 to 12, opposed the formal display of the Panama flag in the Canal Zone in a House Concurrent
Resolution but, unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations did not act. As a follow up to the resolution, the House, on February 9, unanimously adopted the Gross Amendment to the 1961 Department of Commerce Appropriations Bill prohibiting the use of funds under that appropriation for the formal display of the flag of Panama in the Zone. The Senate accepted this amendment and it became law.
As early as April 30, 1960, I predicted in an address in the House that soon after the Congress adjourned there would be an order from the President based upon the recommendation of the State Department, authorizing the display of the Panama flag in the Zone.
Later, on June 23, 1960, I addressed the House, stressing the problems that would follow as the result of the hoisting of the Panama flag in the Zone territory and warning the Congress that elements in the State Department were planning to authorize it. Next, on June 30, I wrote to Secretary of State Christian A. Herter appraising him of these facts, urging him to clean out the responsible elements in his department, and warning him that should the Panama flag be displayed in the Canal Zone under his authorization members of the House would press for his impeachment. His reply was evasive. (Congressional Record (86th Cong., 2d Sess.), Vol. 106, Pt. 14 (Aug. 31, 1960), p. 18872.)
PRESIDENT EISENHOWER STRIKES U.S. FLAG IN CANAL ZONE, SEPTEMBER 17, 1960 Just as predicted, on September 17, 1960, soon after adjournment of the Congress, President Eisenhower, without Congressional sanction and using emergency funds from the Department of State, in a mistaken gesture of friendship, naively authorized the formal display of the Panama flag in one place in the Canal Zone at Shaler's Triangle as "visual evidence" of Panama's titular sovereignty over the Zone but did not define the term, which, as already pointed out, is of purely reversionary character. Also as predicted, Panamanians took this display not as evidence of titular sovereignty, but as an official admission by the United States of its recognition of Panama's full sovereignty over the Zone Territory. (G. Bernard Noble, Christian A. Herter, New York: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1970, p. 209.)
To avoid confusion the word sovereignty means the state of quality of having supreme power of dominion. Could there be any better status for the Panama Canal and Canal Zone than that under the full sovereign control of the United States with the avoidance of all problems of extra territoriality? For such sovereignty there can be only one flag and that is the flag of the United States.
PANAMANIAN MOBS ASSAULT CANAL ZONE, JANUARY, 1964
Did the 1960 display by President Eisenhower appease Panamanian radicals? It did not, but simply served to open a Pandora's Box of more unrealistic and impossible demands. The Panama flag display was extended by President Eisenhower's successors, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. They culminated in a massive Red led mob invasion of the Canal Zone during January 9-12, 1964, again requiring the use of our armed forces to protect the lives of our citizens and the Canal itself. In retaliation, Panama broke diplomatic relations with the United States and brought charges against the United States of "aggression" against Panama.
Here I would like to stress that not one United States soldier left the Canal Zone but simply defended the lives of our citizens and the Canal with the result that there was no interruption of transit despite the magnitude of the disorders. This was the highest tribute to the wisdom of our policy of having United States citizens in security positions, and having a protective strip framing the Canal.
PRESIDENT JOHNSON ACCEDES TO RADICAL PANAMANIAN DEMANDS, 1964 After President Johnson had an opportunity to get the necessary facts about the Panamanian mob attack, on January 14, 1964, he took a strong initial stand for exercising United States sovereignty over the Canal Zone stating that our country had a "recognized treaty obligation to operate the Canal efficiently and securely, and (that) we intend to honor that obligation in the interest of all who depend upon it." (Congressional Record (88th Cong., 2d Sess.), Vol. 110, Pt. 1 (Jan. 14, 1964), p. 426.) For this candor he was widely commended at home and abroad despite the position taken by the United States in 1956 in opposition to the British-French reoccupation of the Suez Canal.