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Can you think of a worse blow against the United States short of nuclear attack than the loss of the Panama Canal?
Would not cession of the Canal Zone constitute a precedent for other nations, emboldened by such surrender to Panama, to challenge our right to Alaska, the Gadsden Purchase, the vast Southwest, Florida and the Louisiana Purchase? The historic canal policy of the United States is for an American canal, on American soil, for the American people and world shipping as provided by law; and that is the policy that should be followed without any dilution.
PRESENT TASKS BEFORE THE CONGRESS
The present task before the House of Representatives is the transcendent one of clarification and reaffirmation of our sovereign control of the Panama Canal enterprise. The resolutions now pending reflect the views of our best informed Congressional leaders and specially qualified citizens from various parts of the nation. Their adoption will serve notice in the world, especially Soviet rulers, that the United States has the will to meet its treaty obligations at Panama and that it will continue to do so and thus serve to regain the public image that our great country has lost through weak and timid policies in recent years, particularly in Latin America. It will open the way for the next great step by the Congress in the evolution of our Isthmian Canal policy-the major modernization of the existing Panama Canal. These two steps together, sovereignty reaffirmation and modernization, should meet the canal situation for many years into the future.
[From the Congressional Record-House, Sept. 9, 1976]
NEW PANAMA CANAL TREATY REPORT: FALLACIES CLARIFIED AND CONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAM PROPOSED
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. McFall). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Flood), is recognized for 60 minutes. Mr. FLOOD. Mr. Speaker, as one who for many years has studied interoceanic canal history and problems, I long ago became accustomed to surprises. The latest significant one was a February 24, 1976, committee print of a report concerning a recent visit to the Isthmus of Panama by a Special Subcommittee on Investigations, House Committee on International Relations, under the title of “A New Panama Canal Treaty: A Latin American Imperative."
In the foreword to this document, the distinguished chairman of the full committee, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Morgan), correctly commented that the observations and findings in the report are those of the study mission and do not necessarily reflect the views of the membership of the full committee. To this statement, I would make these additional observations: nor do they reflect the views of many well informed Members of the Congress in both the Senate and House, various distinguished historians of the United States, some of our leading military and naval strategists, many experienced officers of the Armed Forces with previous service in the Canal Zone or other areas of the Caribbean, and experienced officials of large shipping interests that use the canal.
In addition, I can mention such national patriotic organizations as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Military Order of the World Wars, the Sons of the American Revolution and the U.S. Industrial Council. All of these and many other groups as well as thousands of individuals from all the States, conscious of the mounting perils in the Gulf-Caribbean danger zone, strenuously oppose any weakening of U.S. sovereign rights, power, and authority over either the Canal Zone or the Panama Canal.
Mr. Speaker, much of what I shall say today, I have been saying for many years. It is aimed at clearing away some of the bewildering confusion that has featured so many recent discussions of the immensely complicated canal question and providing a valid plan of action.
How has the growing opposition to the long planned relinquishment of the Canal Zone been reflected in the Congress? In the Senate, some 39 Members cosponsored Senate Resolution 97 expressing the sense of that body against any surrender at Panama. This number of Senators is more than enough to defeat the projected give-away treaty. (Congressional Record, March 4, 1975, pp. S3013-S3023).
In the House, this branch of the Congress, on June 26, 1975, when considering an amendment to the Department of State appropriations bill for fiscal year 1976, introduced by Representative M. Gene Snyder, voted 246 to 164 to prohibit the use of appropriated funds for negotiating the surrender or relinquishment of any U.S. rights in the Canal Zone. (Congressional Record, June 26, 1975, pp. H6226, H6247).
Again, on June 18, 1976, the House of Representatives, after extensive debate, adopted by a vote of 229 to 130 the following amendment to the State Department Authorization Act, fiscal year 1977:
SEC. 14. Any new Panama Canal treaty or agreement negotiated with funds appropriated under this Act must protect the vital interests of the United States in the Canal Zone and in the operation, maintenance, property, and defense of the Panama Canal." (Congressional Record, June 18, 1976, p. H6179).
This amendment, though "watered down" from that introduced by Representative Snyder on this occasion, was not in the form of a "sense of the Congress" resolution as finally adopted in 1975, which was ignored by the State Department, but in the words of its sponsor a "substantive change in the law" (Ibid. p. H6184). Nevertheless, it is still subject to interpretation by the State Department of the term "vital interests." which that agency has equated with surrender of U.S. sovereignty over the Canal Zone. Thus, it is still likely to be ignored and ineffective.
Mr. Speaker, the most significant contribution of the June 18 canal debate was not the action by the House but the perceptive statements by Representatives Snyder, John M. Murphy, and others, which are commended for special attention. (Congressional Record, June 18, 1976, p. H6173 and p. H6177, respectively.) Regardless of the action taken, it was clear from the speeches during the debate that this body of the Congress is overwhelmingly opposed to giving away the Canal Zone and canal.
As to the feeling among the people of our country at large, on March 15, 1973, following a national TV program on the sovereignty question, of more than 12,000 viewers from all over the Nation who expressed themselves, some 86 percent were opposed to any surrender. On August 23, 1976, of a total of 8,567 communications in the form of letters and petitions that I have received since February 7, 1974, only 16 were unfavorable. This figures out to a ratio of 535 to 1 in support of retention of undiluted U.S. sovereign control over the Canal Zone. Recent polls have confirmed this strong stand by the people of the United States against surrender.
An examination of the special subcommittee's activities during its Isthmian visit, November 21-23, 1975, discloses meetings with officials of the U.S. Embassy in Panama and the pro-Red revolutionary government of Panama, conferences with many Panamanians, Canal Zone Government, and U.S. Southern Command officials, North American businessmen in Panama, and the Archbishop of Panama.
In this connection, it should be known that certain U.S. church groups have been misled into supporting the movement for the United States to give up the Canal Zone and that their efforts have included extensive lobbying in the Congress (Miami Herald, Sept. 21, 1975, p. 12F.)
Fortunately, Panama Canal employees, who have been in close touch with the situation, and understand it, have provided Members of the Congress with significant information, which helped to bring about on April 6-8, 1976 some important hearings by the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. (CONgressional Record, April 13, 1976, p. H3341). This patriotic service by Panama Canal employees was a contribution of major value and merits the thanks of the Congress. I hope that all Members interested in the canal question will read the relevant parts of the testimony. (Congressional Record, April 13, 1976, p. H3341.)
Mr. Speaker, let us examine the six conclusions of the committee print report. Direct quotations of each of them are italicized:
1. If a new treaty is not negotiated, American interests in the Canal will be jeopardized.
The report goes on to state that if there is no new treaty, the United States will run "grave risks," including damage to the canal or even its closure, and harm to broad American political economic interests.
Mr. Speaker, as to such threats of violence, the canal, like any other major transportation project, has always been vulnerable. It was safely protected
during two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Cuban missile crisis and the 1964 Red-led attempted Panamanian mob invasion of the Canal Zone. I believe that I reflect the views of well-informed Members of the Congress, as well as many experienced officers of the Armed Forces, when saying that they are not impressed by such attempts at intimidation. Responsible officials of the executive, in the interest of saving lives of both North Americans and Panamanians, should make clear to the de facto revolutionary Panama Government that the United States will meet its treaty obligations for the protection of the Panama Canal and that any attack on either the Canal Zone or canal will be swiftly repelled with whatever force that may be required.
During the 1964 mob assault on the Canal Zone, transit traffic in the canal continued without interruption. That was a glowing tribute to the loyal employees, Panamanian as well as United States, who maintained and operated the canal, also to the Canal Zone Police and Armed Forces that protected it.
To stress the importance of our treaty obligations for protecting the canal against "lawlessness and disorder" as well as foreign aggression, information has been received from isthmian sources that there are nearly 3,000 Cubans in the Republic of Panama camouflaged as civilians and that Soviet-made machineguns in large trunks have been received on the isthmus. (Congressional Record, Mar. 16, 1976, p. H1987.) The chairman of the Committee on Armed Services has advised me that his committee is keeping in touch with the situation.
2. A new treaty is required if the United States is to have good relations with Latin American countries.
The report then comments that North Americans make a "grave mistake" if they see the canal as only a problem between the United States and Panama. Mr. Speaker, as to this second conclusion, it should be stressed that over a period of years, the Panama Government, acting closely with Cuba and the U.S.S.R., has been conducting a worldwide campaign of vilification against the United States to support the surrender of the Canal Zone to the Soviet puppet government of Panama. This campaign has included speaking tours by Panamanian agents before opinion-forming groups in the United States that were financed by the Department of State, and organized efforts to win support from various hemispheric countries.
In regard to the attitude of Latin America, other Members of the Congress and I were participants in the Inter-American Conference on Freedom and Security, September 25-28, 1975, Washington, D.C., which was attended by many distinguished representatives from 13 Western Hemispheric nations. The overwhelming views expressed during the sessions of the Conference were in opposition to surrender of the Canal Zone to Panama and a general desire for the United States to continue its undiluted sovereign control (Congressional Record, September 29, 1975, pp. H9263-H9266.)
The assertion in the committee print that Latin America is "unanimous" in its support of Panamanian demands is not well founded and should not be recognized. (L. Francis Bouchey, "Report of Official Proceedings, Inter-Americau Conference on Freedom an Security," the Heritage Foundation, 1976.)
3. A new treaty is also required for the continued operation of an open, safe, efficient Canal.
The committee print report states that if a new treaty is not negotiated, the United States can expect both a deterioration of our relations throughout the hemisphere and "real dangers" to the operation of the canal.
Mr. Speaker, here again the acceptance of such threats as recommended in the report will inevitably cause widespread loss of respect due the United States and invite mob actions that may require far greater use of force in Panama than any previously employed for protecting the canal.
As to the nature of the projected new treaty or treaties, I would invite attention to the three conceptual agreements already published in Panama. How this vital interoceanic link could be efficiently maintained, operated, sanitated, and protected under their provisions is beyond my comprehension (Congressional Record, October 6, 1975, pp. H9661-H9663.) Since assuming responsibility in the 1955 treaty for sanitation in the terminal cities of Panama and Colón, the Republic of Panama has not been able to collect its own garbage from the streets of those cities.
The expression, "open safe, efficient canal” in conclusion 3 describes precisely the present situation. This fact invites the questions of why should we negotiate for creating a condition that already exists and how could surrender do other than add confusion, turmoil, uncertainty, and graver danger. Panama, sit
uated on one of the most strategic crossroads of the world, is still the objective of predatory forces and requires the presence of a great power for its continued existence as an independent country and that power is the United States.
In addition, I would invite the attention of the Congress to the fact that the Panama Canal Reorganization Act of 1950 (Public Law 841, 81st Congress) specifically provides that the levy of tolls is subject to the provision of section 1, article III of the 1901 Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with Great Britain. Has the Department of State secured the approval of the British Government on this matter? It has not. In fact, recent inquiries made to responsible officials of the State Department revealed that they did not even know about the treaty interests of the British Government in this crucial matter. (Congressional Record, June 10, 1976, p. H5664.)
One of the major United States responsibilities under the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty is protection of the canal against "lawlessness and disorder." This is a task that cannot be evaded for Panama is a land of endemic revolution and endless political intrigue. The idea that surrender of U.S. sovereignty over the Canal Zone to Panama will increase the security of the canal is mere wishful thinking that is entirely irrelevant. (Congressional Record, June 15, 1976, p. E3374.)
Moreover, as previously indicated, the projected surrender violates the 1901 Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with Great Britain. This commitment by the United States for the operation of an Isthmian Canal under the rules governing the operation of the Suez Canal has been accepted and cannot be disregarded. Likewise, Colombia, the sovereign of the Isthmus prior to November 3, 1903, has important treaty rights in the Panama Canal and Railroad by which the United States is bound and so far as can be ascertained that country has not been consulted.
4. The timing of the negotiations is very important.
The report says that while Panama may be willing to wait until after U.S. Presidential elections for a treaty such delay will make the situation "more dangerous" and the issues "more difficult to resolve."
Mr. Speaker, the prevention of informed public discussion of the canal subject in the United States is unfortunate. The surrender of U.S. sovereignty over the zone would place Panama in the position to nationalize the canal for which the zone is the protective strip just as occurred in 1956 in Egypt after the withdrawal of British forces from the Suez Canal Zone. The people of the United States do not wish to have a Suez Canal situation at Panama and informed leaders in various parts of the Nation are dedicated to prevent any such development.
5. A treaty which is mutually beneficial for the United States and for Panama should, among other things, replace the 1903 Treaty, give Panama sovereignty over the Canal Zone, increase its benefits, and provide for joint boards for making improvements and determining tolls.
Mr. Speaker, are these facts or mere aspirations? Such actions will give away the Canal Zone and, ultimately, the canal itself, as well as burden the United States with grave responsibility without adequate authority-proposals that are a misjudgment of the actual situation. Panama has been, and still is, the greatest single beneficiary of the canal enterprise, with benefits from U.S. Canal Zone sources in 1975 totaling $253,130,000. (Panama Canal Spillway, July 16, 1976.) No doubt its benefits will continue to increase in the future as they have in the past.
6. While the Panama Canal is not as important strategically as it once was, it remains a valuable economic and military asset to the United States.
Mr. Speaker, this statement illustrates the misuse of the word, "strategic," which simply means advantageously located geographically. With traffic in the canal close to 14,000 transits annually, it is more "strategic" now than ever. The voyages of more vessels are shortened, more world commerce is benefited, and an important element in U.S. seapower provided. What is needed is its major increase of capacity and operational improvement to meet future needs.
As to the strategic military and naval requirements for the canal, recent U.S. commanders-in-chief, Pacific, have expressed the view that without this interoceanic link, such operations as the Korean and Vietnam wars simply could not have been effectively conducted. Anyone familiar with the history of the
Panama Canal prior to and after the attack on Pearl Harbor understands its value to national defense and cannot be confused by clever sophistry or other chicanery.
A second section of the committee print report makes the following recommendations, direct quotations from which are italicized and on each of which I shall make brief comments:
1. The debate over a new treaty should concentrate on what is at stake for the United States.
The report asserts that "sovereignty and ownership" are not issues for it erroneously alleges that the United States never had either.
Mr. Speaker, the plain terms of the 1903 treaty grant full sovereign rights, power, and authority over the Canal Zone to the United States in perpetuity, and, most significantly, to the entire exclusion of their exercise by the Republic of Panama. Former President, later chief justice, Taft, in a formal policy statement in Panama City, R.P., on November 16, 1910, while attending a banquet given by the president of Panama, made this positive declaration:
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. (Ho. Doc. No. 474, 89th Congress, p. 193) (Emphasis provided).
In addition to sovereignty over the Canal Zone, the United States obtained title to all privately owned land and property in the zone from individual property owners by means of a joint United States-Panamanian claims commission, making the Canal Zone by far our most territorial acquisition. (Congressional Record, Dec. 9, 1975, pp. H12, H155.)
Thus the study mission's contention that the United States never had either sovereignty or ownership is simply not true. (Congressional Record, June 9, 1976, pp. H5543-H5546 and June 17, 1976, pp. S9798-S9770.)
In this connection, Mr. Speaker, I would invite the attention of the Congress to a comprehensive legal memorandum on the sovereignty question prepared in May 1959 by the office of the Governor of the Canal Zone and quoted by me in an address to this House on June 23, 1959. A major part of the concluding paragraph of the memorandum follows:
"23. The United States has the exclusive right to the exercise of sovereign rights, power, and authority in the Canal Zone. The Republic of Panama has no right to the exercise of sovereign rights, power, and authority in the Canal Zone, and no right to the perquisites or privileges of a sovereign in the Canal Zone. Any titular sovereignty which the Republic of Panama may possess in the Canal Zone is wholly barren and dormant (reversionary in character) at least so long as the convention of 1903 remains in effect." (Congressional Record, June 23, 1959, pp. 11675-78 and Ho. Doc. No. 474, 89th Congress, pp. 127–34.)
As I have stated on many previous occasions in regard to what is at stake for the United States, the question of the canal is not a local problem between the United States and Panama but one of global significance. Its control is the prime objective in the struggle by the U.S.S.R. for conquest of the Gulf-Caribbean area. This fact is becoming increasingly understood and cannot be ignored. 2. While it may not be possible to reach agreement on all substantive issues in a new treaty, before the 1976 elections, earnest negotiations should continue in an effort to resolve the major outstanding issues and reach an agreement on a draft treaty.
Mr. Speaker, the answer to such statements as this should be that U.S. sovereignty over the Canal Zone is not negotiable and that any invasion of the Canal Zone will be repelled with appropriate force.
3. Supporters of a new treaty must work to educate the American people and the Members of Congress about the need for it.
Mr. Speaker, instead of describing such a program as "education", it should be described as an appeal for the presentation of only one side of a vital issue. 4. Over the coming months the U.S. military command in the Canal, South Com, should intensify efforts to consolidate and streamline operations and facilities in the Canal Zone.
Mr. Speaker, this is part of the demand of Panama for the elimination of U.S. Armed Forces from the Isthmus as was done in 1956 by British Forces stationed in the Suez Canal Zone before nationalization by Egypt at the Suez Canal. The announced Panamanian objective is for the complete removal of the United