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interest to our people, are being submitted to the 505 representatives for their analysis.
It is necessary to clarify, as Dr. Romulo Escobar Bethancourt did in his speech this morning on the contents of the treaty, that this is not the full document. That is, it is not the complete and absolute text of the draft agreement, the agreement of principles, for the simple reason that the document will only have domestic and international validity when it is signed by our Chief of Government Brig. Gen. Omar orrijos Herera and by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Regarding the duration of the treaty, the document says: The 1977 treaty will have a set duration ; it will expire on 31 December 1999. On that date, the Republic of Panama will begin to manage and defend the Panama Canal exclusively.
Regarding jurisdiction, which historically has been one of the most debated problems in our people's historical struggle to recover sovereignty, the text at our disposal reads: There will be no Canal Zone government or governor. Only Panama will exercise such governmental functions as police, firemen, customs, justice, postal services and so on. This transfer will be completed in a 30-month period after the treaty takes effect. Only Panamanian civil and penal laws will apply.
The Foreign Ministry document goes on to say that the canal administration commission will not be allowed to carry out commercial operations and that these activities will be completely regulated by Panmanian laws. In this regard, the following activities and functions being carried out by the Panama Canal Company and the Canal Zone Government would cease :
Wholesale and retail sales of merchandise of all types in commissaries, stores, optical shops and others, the preparation of food and drink and milk products; the operation of bakeries, public restaurants and cafeterias and the sale of articles using automatic vending machines; the operation of movie theaters, bowling alleys, billard halls and other entertainment centers charging admission; laundries and drycleaning facilities that are not operated for official use ; outlets to repair and service private automobiles or sell fuel and lubricants, including service stations, garages and outlets to repair or retread tires; repair shops for other privately owned property, including electronic and electrical home appliances, irons, motors and furniture; cold storage and cargo warehouses that are not being operated for official use; commercial supplying and servicing privately owned ships, including the sale of fuel and lubricants, towing services not related to the canal and other U.S. Government operations; the repair of private vessels except when it is necessary to remove damaged ships from the canal; nonofficial printing plants; ocean transportation for public use; mortuary services and cemeteries; educational services, including schools and libraries; the postal service; the customs, immigration and quarantine services, excluding those needed to ensure the cleanliness of the canal; the construction and repair of ships and supplying them with water, fuel and lubricants; the docks and the movement of cargo and passengers.
Regarding the principle of nonintervention, the document distributed today to the 505 Corregimiento Representatives reads as follows: The U.S. military forces and civilian personnel will abstain from all political activities in the Republic of Panama, as well as any other intervention in the domestic affairs of the Republic of Panama.
Regarding neutrality, Panama unilaterally declares the neutrality of the canal so that in times of peace or war it will remain open and at the service of the shipping of all nations of the world in terms of absolute equality and so that the canal and consequently the Isthmus of Panama will not be subjected to reprisals in any armed conflict between the nations of the world. Panama and the United States agree to maintain its neutrality so that the canal can remain permanently neutral. Panama and the United States will promote the support of all nations of the world for the protocol of neutrality.
Regarding the canal's operation, this important document says the following: The United States will be mainly responsible for the operation of the canal until 31 December 1999, when the canal and its auxiliary projects will pass completely to Panama. The canal will be operated by an agency of the U.S. Government. This agency will be called the commission. This commission will have a board of directors made up of nine members, five of whom will be U.S. citizens and four will be Panamanians chosen by the Panamanian Government. From the moment the treaty comes into effect until 31 December 1989, the deputy manager will be a Panamanian and the manager will be a U.S. citizen. Starting on 1 January 1990
until 31 December 1999, the manager will be a Panamanian and the deputy manager will be a U.S. citizen.
Referring to the canal's operation, the document also says there will be a consultative committee made up of an equal number of Panamanians and U.S. representatives that will advise the governments of the two countries on policies related to the canal's operation.
Regarding the employment policy, non-Panamanians will be employed only when there are no competent Panamanians to fill the vacancies. This means that when there is a vacancy, it should be filled by a Panamanian. If there is no Panamanian able to fill the post, then foreign or non-Panamanian pesonnel will be employed. Within the 5 years following the treaty's implementation, the number of U.S. citizens employed in the former Panama Canal Company will be reduced by 20 percent. The employees of U.S. citizenship contracted after the treaty is in effect will be able to work only for a 5-year period. There will be no discrimination in matters regarding salaries, services or labor benefits because of nationality, sex or race. That is to say, there will be no gold roll or silver roll. There will be no security posts, which were held only by U.S. citizens.
One of the most important matters included in the document distributed to the 505 representatives refers to the canal's defense. In this respect, the text reads as follows:
The Republic of Panama and the United States will be jointly responsible for the protection and defense of the Panama Canal during the new treaty's duration. The Republic of Panama will have a growing participation in the canal's defense. There will be a joint board with an equal number of military officers from each of the two countries who will be in charge of coordinating and consulting on matters related to the protection and joint defense of the canal without restricting the identity or lines of command of the Panamanian National Guard.
The United States will station, train and transport military forces only in the manner described in the regulations for the U.S. armed forces in Panama. In times of peace, U.S. forces in Panama will not surpass the level in the Canal Zone prior to the treaty. After the Panama Canal treaty ends, only Panama will manage the canal, maintain military forces, defense sites and military installations in all its territory.
Regarding flags, one of the most irritating matters for Panamanians for over 70 years, the summary of the agreement presented by the Foreign Ministry to the representatives of the assembly says:
The Panamanian flag will be flown in all parts of Panamanian territory. The U.S. flag will be flown only at the office of the Panama Canal administration commission and within defense sites, where our flag will always have an honored place. That is, the Panamanian flag will always be in a honored location at all sites.
The document also refers to the possibility of building a sea-level canal. For the treaty's duration, the two countries, if they believe a sea-level canal may be important, will commit themselves to a joint study of the feasibility of such a canal. If they do this, they will negotiate to try to reach an agreement for its construction under terms which could be established by the Republic of Panama and the United States at that time.
This means that the agreement on principles does not include any clause which commits Panama to building a sea-level canal in conjunction with the United States. This agreement on principles merely provides for the possibility of a joint study with the United States of the feasibility of building a sea-level canal.
The economic aspects of the negotiations we believe to be too complicated to set forth in this short report we are presenting to you via Radio Libertad.
Regarding lands and waters, the document states the following specific points: When Panama grants the United States the right to use, until the year 1999, the lands and waters needed for the efficient operation of the canal, our country thereby liberates almost 70 percent of the lands and waters now occupied by the United States, including the following: Ancon Hill, the railroad, the ports of Balboa and Cristobal, half of Fort Amador, the Nao, Perico and Flamenco islands, part of Coco Solo, France Field, all the towns of Rainbow City, Pedro Miguel and Paraiso, the littoral area from the Bridge of the Americas to Veracruz, Gatun and Alajuela lakes, Fort Randolph and Fort Culick, Curundu Heights and Albrook Field, Summit Botanical Gardens, Fort San Lorenzopart of our national historical heritage-the Mount Hope Cemetery, the Balboa and Ancón court buildings and a number of sports facilities.
Some of these installations will revert to Panama on the first day after the signing of the treaty, and others 3 and 5 years later. Therefore, from the first day of the new treaty there will be no more Canal Zone. We shall have a canal without a colonial enclave.
Well, this is a summary of the agreement on principles between Panama and the United States which was distributed this morning at the legislative palace to the honorable Corregimiento Representatives. It is a document drafted by the Foreign Ministry and signed by Foreign Minister Nicolas Gonzalez Revilla.
NEGOTIATORS ANSWER ASSEMBLY'S QUESTIONS
Panama City Domestic Service in Spanish 2019 GMT 19 Aug 77 PA.
[19 August question and answer session between Panamanian negotiators on canal treaty and National Assembly of Corregimiento Representatives at Justo Arosemena Palace in Panama City-live]
[Excerpts.] [Education Minister Royo.) Regarding the question of whether Panama will have to repay the loans from the United States : In referring to discussions of economic aspects, Don Gilberto, we are speaking of two areas. One area is the payments which the United States makes to Panama and which are derived generally from the canal revenues. These include tolls derived from Panama's use of the ports of Balboa and Cristóbal.
Another different area is the package which is called the economic cooperation agreement. That agreement has one goal; for Panama to achieve improved economic development, as Minister Ardito Barletta explained, and, on the day we have to administer the canal 100 percent and defend it, for Panama to have a level of economic development that will allow it to assume that tremendous responsibility.
This economic cooperation agreement provides for_loans which Panama definitely must repay. For example, the loan from the Eximport Bank will be $200 million, and that loan will be made through what are called concessionary loans which are long term—20 and 30 years—with grace periods of 5 to 10 years and, moreover, at an interest rate of between 5.5 and 7 percent. This rate is what is called a soft interest rate and it allows Panama, at the end of 30 years when it repays the $200 million, the payment at that time, at the values current at that time, will be much less than the amount we are receiving today [sentence as heard]. For this reason, it is said that these are loans paid for by the revaluation of the currency itself.
[Representative Luis Castillo.) Mr. President, distinguished negotiators, dear comrade: I would like to ask the negotiators about the plebiscite. Since this is the means by which the Panamanian people will ratify the treaty and is related to the ratification by the U.S. Congress, I would like to ask whether a date has been set for the plebiscite and whether it has considered that it is important for the plebiscite to be held before the U.S. Congress ratifies the treaty. The idea is that once the results of the plebiscite are known-and we feel sure the Panamanian people will approve the treaty by a majority-this would have an impact on the U.S. Congress.
(Romulo Escobar Bethancourt.] About the plebiscite. The date for the plebiscite here in the Republic of Panama still has not been set, because naturally this depends on when General Torrijos and President Carter sign the treaty, and also on the amount of time allowed for public debate. After that period for debate if it is decided here in Panama that let's say, the debate will take place over a period of 4 weeks beginning on such and such a date—the plebiscite will take place. But the date for it can be set as soon as the two chiefs of government sign the treaty. I understand that the electoral tribunal is already taking action and studying the mechanics of the plebiscite. We of course attach great importance to the plebiscite.
I would point out that the revolutionary government is so honest and scrupulous regarding the negotiations with the United States that the 1972 constitution provides for this plebiscite. That is, a constitution dictated by this very same government. What does this mean? Simply that, as General Torrijos has said from the beginning, the problem of relations with the United States is not the problem of one leader or one administration, it is the problem of all Panamanians. If all Panamanians are to be affected for good or for ill by a treaty with the United States, then all Panamanians must have the right not only to express their opinions but to decide whether or not that theaty should stand. For the first time in the history of our republic and under our revolutionary government, that kind of political participation has been established. We honestly agree with you that in a plebiscite here, after our people become truly informed about this treaty and the profound change it implies for the country, an overwhelming majority will be in favor of the treaty.
This revolutionary government, despite the fact that this is a small country, is the only one that has confronted the United States in a really dignified and strong manner.
As for the U.S. Congress, there is a big problem, to be frank with you. They have a big problem, worse than you can imagine. The United States is a country where people have been brought up thinking that the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal belong to them. All their lives they have been taught this in school, at home, through publications—that is the background of the American people. As a product of that training, they, or most of them, feel that this step which President Carter's administration wants to take is a step to give up part of the United States. Many of them feel that if the United States gires Panama jurisdiction over the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal afterwards, it is as if they were giving up, for example, the Florida peninsula. Because that is the training which they have had.
Logically, then, the problem goes to Congress. Why? Because the U.S. congressman, as a good politician, acts as the instrument of those electing him. He is always aware of how the voter of the district or state that elects him feels. As there are sectors in the United States which feel as I have told you, there are congressmen who, because of their own training, because they were also educated that way, and, because they act according to the desires of those voting for thema totally oppose the treaty with the Republic of Panama.
[Representative Luis Emilio Veces.] I wish to clear up a point of order, because the secretary has declared that the vote was unanimous (for the resolution approving the accomplishments of the Panamanian negotiators regarding the treaty]. I wish to explain my abstention from voting. With the indulgence of those at the presidential table, the vice president, the cabinet ministers and fellow representatives, I wish to explain that I am сара of begrudging the merits with which the resolution credits those persons abroad who have expressed their solidarity with our country. However, there is a basic issue which has caused me to abstain from voting for that resolution. It is the fact that I cannot share the pleasure of those at this meeting or the pleasure expressed by the government team today for a treaty which I have not yet seen.
The agreement on principles as submitted by the negotiating team undoubtedly presents the positive portions of the agreements reached. Nevertheless, I do not want to talk about the agreement on principles excessively, because I am not able to express a knowledgeable opinion. I want to inform my fellow representatives and the government team of two or three concerns which have caused me to abstain from voting for that resolution.
I have already expressed my concerns to Captain Ocalagan [head of the General Directorate for Community Development-DIGEDCOM] who visited the Chorrera Municipal Council during its last session. According to the national press and the government team, we have ample guarantees permitting a debate on the new treaty draft. Nevertheless, the same government team has made a series of threats of a political nature against persons who oppose the treaty. I wish to state clearly that in such a situation it would appear that we are left only to take it or leave it.
I do believe that one of the statements made by Romulo Escobar Bethancourt is true. Right now it would appear that any academic lucubration of the treaty is unnecessary because it would in no way alter the agreement on principles or the treaty draft, because the negotiating stage has ended. I am also worried about a number of ideas being expressed, such as that those who oppose the government or the treaty are traitors to the fatherland. These are ideas which given the pretense that there is a democratic atmosphere, constitute a threat for anyone in this country who has the power to reason.
Now, those who participate in politics in this or any other country have to accept the consequences of their participation, whatever they may be, and we know this. However, I believe that this whole process of consultation is being besmirched. This is not detrimental domestically because here we all know each other, what we want and where we are heading, and we do not deceive ourselves, but on the international level where this type of threat sometimes denotes fascist
ideas, such as accusing of treason two Panamanians in exile in Venezuela who made statements against Genera Torrijos.
Franky, I know of one Latin American government which has stated that whoever is against it can be labeled a traitor and lose his nationality, and this is General Pinochet's government.
Other than that, not even General Somoza, the dictator closest to us, has made such a statement, as far as I know. I also wish to express to my fellow representatives and to the government team my deep concern over the fact that a political debate can be held that will affect not only the treaties, but the whole government as well. However, I sincerely believe that this is not the time for the country to undertake a debate on the national government's situation, because what is at stake is not the government's situation but the country's situation. Consequently, I believe that no one in this country should make any statement at this time on whether General Torrijos' government is appropriate or not, because what we must decide at this time is whether the treaties are appropriate or not, and it is the national government who must lead the debate.
[Chairman interrupts.] Fellow Representative Veces is reminded that he has 30 seconds until the end of the permitted 5-minute speaking period.
[Veces.] Honorable representatives and members of the government team, I do not believe that there is any doubt in Panama about that reality. I would like to strongly suggest that the government team seriously consider this fact.
[Escobar Bethancourt.] My reply to Representative Veces is the following: We are promoting a pubic and open debate and we are not leveling political threats at anyone. We believe that this is going to be a very democratic debate. However, it will probably not be a one-way democracy, but a two-way democracy. For example, if a person is against the treaty drafts and states it publicly, we will publicly explain the points which the person is opposed to. That is what we call a debate.
However, if a person makes a statement in a newspaper, as we observed recently, that not even Bunau-Varilla would have done this—“this is a democracy,” as one published statement read—that person had better not believe that we will remain silent after being compared to Bunau-Varilla. He should be prepared for our reply. This is not a threat. Some individuals belie that democracy consists of criticizing the government and that the government must simply accept it. We will not do that. Any person who during the debate objects to the approval of the treaties because Torrijos is a dictator will receive our reply explaining why we do not consider Torrijos a dictator, and in addition we will reprimand that person.
That will be the debate, at whatever level people choose to engage in it, but whoever decides to enter the debate should know that he will get a reply. It would be a threat if we said that anyone who opposes the treaty would be put in jail, fired from his job or persecuted. That would be a threat. However, having the right to reply to an individual's proposals, I would call true democracy, Veces.
Some persons frequently bring up the question of the exiles in reference to the treaty. Let us address this matter. They were not exiled due to the treaty. When they were sent into exile, the negotiations for the treaty had not been completed, and at that time they had said nothing about the treaty, either for or against. They were sent into exile for other reasons, for political reasons, and I do not personally like to see anyone in exile. However, every government has a right to defend itself, and I believe that this government defends itself very mildly. In other countries people are not sent into exile. I have visited all of Latin America. I am going to propose to the general that he send you on a Latin American visit so that you can see what fascism is and what they do to their opponents, how they make them disappear from their homes.
The problem of the exiles is a problem that should be solved. When we visited Cancun, Mexico, we met with the lawyer Turner and we told him we should return to Panama because he had spent too much time abroad, that he should return and see for himself. Turner came to Panama, visited everywhere he wanted, talked to anyone he wished and returned to Mexico. We published a long list of persons who are permitted to return to the country. Do you know why many do not return? Because they are working in those countries and earning much money. That is why they are not returning. In Miami they have already bought a bank. They are not over there suffering. We have many poorer people right here, who have no jobs, right here in our country. In Miami they live in a golden exile.