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Whereas, the Thurmond-Flood bills for the major modernization of the Canal now before the Congress will provide increased lock capacity for larger vessels, greater transit capacity, and eliminate the Pedro Miguel bottleneck locks; and Whereas, the plan provided for in these bills would preserve the existing fresh water barrier between the oceans and thus continue to protect them from the biological hazards feared by respected scientists in any sea level undertaking; and Whereas, responsible organizations and informed experts oppose the construction of any sea level canal as needlessly expensive, diplomatically hazardous, ecologically dangerous and less satisfactory operationally than the existing canal; now therefore, be it
Resolved, by the Panama Canal Pilots Association that it supports the Terminal Lake-Third Lock solution as provided in the Thurmond-Flood bills; and Resolved, that the Panama Canal Pilots Association urges the Governor of the Canal Zone to use the full force of his office to support prompt enactment of the pending legislation for major canal modernization; and
Resolved, that the Panama Canal Pilot Association opposes the construction of a new canal of so-called sea level design; and
Resolved, that the Panama Canal Pilot Association directs that copies of this resolution be sent to the following:
President of the United States.
Vice President of the United States.
Secretary of State.
Secretary of Defense.
Secretary of the Army.
Secretary of the Navy.
All Members of the Congress.
Leading Marine Organizations and Periodicals.
American Society of Civil Engineers.
Society of American Military Engineers.
Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Capt. W. H. VANTINE,
President, Panama Canal Pilots Association.
PANAMA CANAL GIVEAWAY: A LATIN AMERICAN'S VIEW
(By Mario Lazo)
SPECIAL STUDY NO. 1 COUNCIL FOR INTER-AMERICAN SECURITY Panama Canal Giveaway: A Latin American's View was written shortly before Mario Lazo's death in 1976. Mario Lazo went to Cuba after receiving his law degree from Cornell and serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army in World War I. He took a law degree from the University of Havana and later founded and headed one of Latin America's most prestigious law firms. Through the years his firm represented the U.S. Government, major corporations, and a distinguished Cuban clientele.
After the fall of Batista, Dr. Lazo valiantly continued his law practice in Havana. Imprisoned and threatened with execution by the Castro regime, his wife, Carmen, saved his life and helped him escape to the United States. For the next seven years Dr. Lazo set himself the task of writing Dagger in the Heart which even The New Republic has called "the best account to date of Castro's victory," bringing to the undertaking the investigative skills of a great lawyer, and a reputation that permitted him to reach into the highest official circles iu -Washington.
The fate of the Panama Canal deserves a prominent place among the issues facing the Congress of the United States and the New Administration. The American people should be informed and alerted on the subject. What are the basic facts?
By the treaty of 1903 the United States bought from Panama for cash plus an annuity, a strip 50 miles long and 10 miles wide through a pestilential tropical zone wracked by fevers but containing the most feasible pass between the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans. The treaty granted the United States perpetual sovereignty over the Canal Zone "to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power or authority."
The Americans who went to work in this inhospitable environment wrought a miracle in 11 years. They created a disease-free inter-ocean waterway which remains to this day one of the wonders of the world. For more than 60 years the United States has operated the Canal for the benefit of the commerce of all nations, lifting in recent years more than 15,000 ships annually across the continental divide, moving them quickly, safely and economically from one ocean to the other.
This achievement forms one of the most inspiring records in history-and those who have profited most from it are the people of Panama. Had it not been for the United States they would still be crossing the Isthmus on muleback, as they did for centuries under Spain and Colombia, for only the United States could have undertaken the great and costly venture.
In fact, for over 60 years Panama has lived off the Canal. The annuity paid by the United States to Panama is by now many times the amount originally agreed upon. More than two-thirds of the approximately 24,000 workers in the Canal Zone are citizens of Panama. The public vessels of Panama are put through the locks free of charge, but the ships of the United States and of other nations pay a standard toll that has only been raised once in 62 years. Various properties in Panama, worth many millions, have been deeded back to Panama by the United States without charge. A trans-Isthmian automobile highway on Panamanian territory, paralleling the Canal Zone, was constructed by the United States for Panama without cost, but Panama has failed to keep it in good condition. A great bridge, also built at no cost to Panama, connects Panama City with the western half of the country.
The United States has thus been more than fair and generous to Panama. Yet every modification of the 1903 treaty has provoked progressively more extravagant demands. Panamanian politicians portray Americans within the Canal Zone as monsters, and Communists and other leftists throughout the Hemisphere make common cause with them against the United States. The lesson of history that appeasement rarely appeases has not been learned by the State Department as it continues a misguided effort to turn off the spigots of hatred and defamation in Panama against the nation that has converted a deadly swamp-land into a great garden surrounding the magnificent waterway.
Since Nasser got away with seizing the Suez Canal in 1956, Panamanian politicos have dreamed of little else than taking over the Panama Canal. They have continually vilified the United States and incited their population against it. Some American liberals have applauded these tactics, arguing that in a "new world order" unilateral control of the Canal is obsolete.
The unhappy Suez experience under Egyptian control, however, hardly recommends Panamanian domination of an interoceanic waterway indispensable to world commerce and to the security of the United States and its allies. During a conventional war 90% of bulk tonnage to support committed forces moves by ship. The demonstrated value of the Canal in World Wars I and II was fully confirmed by its use during the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Between 1964 and 1968 the military-sponsored cargo through the Canal increased by 640% for dry cargo and by 430% for petroleum products. In time of peace 70% of Canal cargoes originate in or are destined for the United States.
The rights of the United States to the Panama Canal were bought and paid for and the nation is under no obligation to renounce or modify those rights. American taxpayers contributed more than 350 million gold dollars to build the Canal, a sum worth many times that amount in the depreciated currency of 1976. This includes the cost of digging through Culebra Cut and erecting the locks and dams and hospitals and machine shops needed for the gigantic enterprise. As of today the United States has invested nearly seven billion dollars in the purchase of land from private owners and in the construction, administration and defense of the Canal,
The treaty on which U.S. ownership rests is as clearly final as the purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803 or of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Amazingly, however, the U.S. Administration is engaged in an all-out effort to obtain Congressional approval for surrendering the Canal to Panama. No similar surrender has been attempted since the nation was founded in 1776.
Does this sound incredible? Here are the facts.
On February 7, 1974, in Panama City, the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Juan A. Tack, and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, acting in behalf of the United States, initialed a document in which the United States agreed to negotiate a new treaty containing the following "principles": 1. The original 1903 treaty, by which the United States acquired perpetual sovereignty over the Canal Zone, would be abrogated, 2. The "concept of perpetuity" of the U.S. ownership would be eliminated, and 3. U.S. jurisdiction over the Canal would be terminated at a date to be fixed in the new treaty. It was also agreed that from the moment the new treaty became effective, the operation and defense of the Canal would be a joint undertaking by the two countries, so that the United States would be unable to act without the consent of Panama. Every concession contained in the 1974 agreement was made unilaterally by the Executive of the United States, all without the authorization of Congress.
Since a treaty cannot bind the United States without the approval of two-thirds of the Senate membership, the Secretary of State and his chief negotiator, Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, had consulted Congressional leaders before leaving for Panama. They were advised that surrender of U.S. sovereignty was not a negotiable item. Consequently, when it became clear that they had chosen to ignore this advice, there was an immediate reaction in the Senate. On April 5, 1975 a sense-of-the-Senate resolution calling for continued and undiluted U.S. Sovereignty was introduced. It now carries the signatures of 37 Senators, over one-third of the membership, most of them collected in a single afternoon.
But the White House did not accept defeat. During the summer months of 1975 it stepped up its well-organized campaign to break down Congressional opposition. The President knew that if Pentagon support could be obtained, it would be much more difficult for the treaty opponents on Capitol Hill to emphasize the military security aspect of the controversy.
Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, subsequently fired by the President, and the vast majority of high-ranking military officers, sharply opposed the giveaway treaty. The United States was being driven out of Southeast Asia at the time and they were in no mood for another surrender. But the White House and the State Department held some high trump cards. For one thing, the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, could promote and demote officers. Also, the State Department had a few allies at the Pentagon on this issue, notably the [then] Deputy Secretary of Defense, William P. Clements, Jr. In July 1975 Dr. Kissinger convened a meeting of the National Security Council to press the issue, but it took a second meeting on August 9, and a directive from President Ford the same day to all the agencies involved, to break the Pentagon deadlock. "We were asked to go back and be as forthcoming as we could be," a Defense official explained. On September 16, 1975 the New York Times headlined the news: Pentagon yielded to Ford on canal-Directive broke deadlock. The Times had been the leader of the liberal press in supporting the surrender. In a leading editorial at the time, titled Breakthrough in Panama, it said. "A formidable roadblock to a new Panama Canal treaty has been removed."
General George S. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, flew to Panama with Ambassador Bunker and announced the Pentagon commitment after a talk with General Omar Torrijos, Panama's dictator.
Two months earlier, in June 1975, the House of Representatives, by the decisive vote of 246 to 164 had denied funds for conducting the "surrender." The Times called this action "a disgraceful exhibition of chauvinism and irresponsibility" and referred sarcastically to opponents of the giveaway treaty as "amateur strategists on Capitol Hill." Under State Department pressure the denial of funds barrier was subsequently rescinded.
In its elation over these successes, however, the State Department blundered. Believing that in the long, emotional and at times bitter controversy the bigbusiness world might be the key element in selling the new treaty to Congress, it tried to enlist its support by having representatives of American corporations and banks doing business in Latin America invited to a meeting at the State Department.
The purpose was to have them organize a "steering committee" to raise a half-million dollar fund for use over a two-year period in lobbying members of Congress, mounting a national campaign through advertising, public speakers and business-academia seminars and for setting up an information clearing
center. Those invited were to be reminded of the anti-American riots in Panama in January 1964 and warned that unless the proposed treaty became effective, renewed and increased violence was virtually certain to occur. Also, unless they got behind the proposed treaty their investments in Latin America would be in danger!
The meeting at the State Department took place on October 30, 1975. Some who attended were shocked when a State Department official raised a trembling finger and asked, "What would you do if 100,000 Panamanians, including women and children, marched on the Canal Zone?" One participant said later he had asked himself if the United States had run out of high pressure hoses. Some were lawyers and every lawyer knows, as every diplomat should know, that an agreement cannot be negotiated under duress. The exploitation of fear by high officials of the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation—a form of blackmail-astonished and infuriated many of those present.
Although the State Department's publicity claimed otherwise, the meeting proved to be a total failure. No fund materialized and some of those who had impulsively volunteered to serve on the steering committee later withdrew.
What motivates those who would surrender a possession which is the strategic center of the Americas and is indispensable for Hemispheric defense? The spokesman for the State Department and also its chief negotiator is Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker. In speeches across the country he gives this explanation:
1. The United States did not acquire sovereignty over the Canal Zone in 1903 but only "rights" and "it is time to stop debating this legal point." 2. The Panamanians argue that the Canal Zone, “curbs the natural growth of Panama's urban areas" and "impedes Panama's development."
3. The Panamanians will be able to keep the Canal operating effectively and efficiently.
4. World opinion expects the United States to work out a new arrangement with Panama and "our Latin American neighbors see in our handling of the Panama negotiations a test of our political intentions in the hemisphere." Ambassador Bunker never speaks critically of the government of Panama with which he is negotiating and never mentions Communism. Let us examine the reasons which have been advanced to justify the surrender.
1. United States Sovereignty.
This is the pertinent language of the 1903 treaty:
"Article II: The Republic of Panama grants to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation and control of (here the Canal Zone is described) "Article III: The Republic of Panama grants to the United States all the rights, power and authority within the zone mentioned and described in Article II. . . . which the United States would possess and exercise if it were the sovereign . . . to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power or authority."
Aside from the certainty that the United States would never have undertaken to build the Canal unless it had unquestionable ownership and sovereignty over its protective zone, Ambassador Bunker must surely know that two U.S. Supreme Court decisions confirm the nation's ownership of and sovereignty over the Canal Zone. The first of these, given in 1907 (Wilson v. Shaw, 204 U.S. 24) states: It is hypercritical to contend that the title of the United States (to the Canal Zone) is imperfect and that the territory described does not belong to this nation because of the omission of some of the technical terms used in ordinary conveyances of real estate . . It is too late in the history of the United States to question the right of acquiring territory by treaty."
The second decision in 1974, 65 years later (United States v. Husband R. Roach 406 U.S. 935) is, if anything, even more explicit. It had that "The Canal Zone is an unincorporated territory of the United States."
Moreover, there have been a great many administrative rulings, opinions and memoranda to the effect that the language employed in the 1903 treaty is neither obscure nor ambiguous and that plain and sensible words should be taken to mean what they say. Secretary of State Charles E. Hughes summed them up in 1923 when he declared that the United States would never recede from "its full right to deal with the Canal Zone. as if it were sovereign . . . and to the entire exclusion of any sovereign rights or authority on the part of Panama." He added that "it was an absolute futility for the Panamanian Government to expect any American Administration . . . 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."
Until the advent of Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Bunker, therefore, the uniform position of the United States Government has been that its sovereignty over the Canal Zone is not an open or doubtful question. For State Department spokesmen to argue otherwise defies understanding. Their specious reasoning may be pleasing to some State Department colleagues but it is deceptive and fallacious. It illustrates the extremes to which they have gone in presenting their
2. Contention that the 1903 treaty curbs Panama's urban growth and impedes her development.
On the first count, the opposite is the case. The United States has spanned the Canal Zone with bridges and highways which are open and available unrestrictedly to Panamanians, making the two parts of the nation divided by the Zone closer to each other than to their own interior territories.
Secondly, the Canal has been the economic base that has raised the living standards of the Panamanians to a higher level than that of any country in Central America. It provides, directly and indirectly, one-fourth of the Panamanian gross national product (GNP), more than one-third of Panama's foreign exchange and about one-fifth of total national employment. According to the Panama Canal Company-Canal Zone Government, gross payments to Panama from the Canal Zone in 1975 amounted to $253,130,000, an increase of some 5 percent over the previous year. And according to the State Department Bulletin of April 23, 1973, U.S. foreign assistance loans and grants to Panama represent the highest per capita level of American aid anywhere in the world!
3. Panama's capability to operate the Canal.
Ambassador Bunker argues that the proposed treaty will not lead to closure of the Canal because "Panama's interest in keeping the Canal open is far greater than ours." This is so, he says, "because Panama derives more income from the Canal than from any single revenue producing source." Its "increasingly diversified economy," he adds, affords a guaranty that in Panamanian hands the Canal would be operated "effectively and efficiently". In fact, he goes so far as to say that the Canal's closure is more apt to be brought about if it continues under U.S. control and management!
Ironically, the answer to these absurdities comes from the New York Times itself, the champion advocate of the giveaway treaty among the news media. An article published on October 8, 1975, which must have slipped in when someone was looking the other way, reports the "man-in-the-street" attitude in Panama on this subject. "Despite the impatient and fiery rhetoric of its military government," it attests, "there is a mood of apathy and cynicism in the Panamanian population . . . Many Panamanians have difficulty sustaining anger or impatience over the American presence .. they worry more about their daily lives."
The Times reportedly recounts a conversation with a lottery vendor in the slum district of Chorillo "where rows of rotting wooden tenements look across John F. Kennedy Avenue to the green slopes of the . . . Canal Zone. "The Canal is just a pretext to divert our attention from the real problems,' the lottery vendor says. 'What's going to happen if we get the Canal? The government will keep the money and in no time the Zone will be as filthy as Panama City.'
Dictator Torrijos, according to that Times dispatch, has his political opponents, one of whom is quoted as saying, "The Government desperately needs the money from a new treaty in order to stay alive. They believe that a system of joint defense will merely insure indefinitely the military rule which Panama has now."
Alberto Quiros de la Guardia, a Panamanian radio broadcaster, puts it this way. "More than anything, Torrijos wants to stay in power and. for that, he needs a new treaty for face-saving. But a system of joint defense will strengthen Panamanian militarism in the name of defending the Canal."
4. "World Opinion" and "Our Latin American Neighbors."
Liberal officials in Washington have a pathological dread of world opinion. A classic example of how this fixation produces decisions for disaster is the Bay of Pigs debacle. The United States had recruited, armed, trained and transported to the Cuban coast an assault brigade composed of Cuban patriots. But Ameri