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Mr. DENNIS. Yes, a commission with five American members on the board and four Panamanian members on the board, and a majority of a quorum could do business. I say when you get to that kind of a situation you can talk all you want to about keeping defense and keeping control but you haven't really got control.
Mr. Kazen. That is correct, and I don't think that is a position to be taken by this Government.
I am just wondering what you think of the control for control's sake or sovereignty for sovereignty's sake of any lands other than the canal itself, the operation, expansion and defense of the canal itself. As I understand, the Canal Zone now is highly commercialized and this Government owns a lot of establishments and I think this is one of the bones of contention.
Mr. DENNIS. Well, I have not been down there since I was a kid about 12 years old and I expect it is commercialized quite a bit, I don't know. That goes back a little bit to the economic business. I think as far as letting the Panamanians make a living is concerned, as much as we can, we ought to be reasonably generous about that. But I can't imagine, where you talk about defense and control, that you can get along-I am no expert on that but we have only got a 10-mile strip there—and I don't imagine we could get along under modern conditions with anything less, if you really want to defend it.
Mr. KAZEN. Actually it is 5 miles on either side of the canal.
Mr. DENNIS. Yes; that is all. So it is not very much. It seems to me that what we have we better hold.
Mr. KAZEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MORSE. I would like to join my colleagues in thanking you, Mr. Dennis, for a very important contribution.
You read article II, I presume, and I don't mean to put words in your mouth, as sort of the extension of an irrevocable leasehold from Panama.
Mr. DENNIS. In perpetuity.
Mr. DENNIS. I don't know. Usually when you say a lease you are thinking of some fixed term-we know of 99-year leases—but you don't usually have a lease in perpetuity.
Mr. MORSE. But it is something other than a grant of the fee because the words "use, occupation, and control" are used.
Mr. DENNIS. Well, perhaps. It is certainly a thing you could debate.
Mr. MORSE. You do then ascribe particular importance to the use of the phrase "in perpetuity” in article II ?
Mr. DENNIS. I would think it is very important from our point of view because whatever we have, we have it forever. That is what it says.
Mr. MORSE. Do you ascribe significance to the failure to use "in perpetuity” in article III ?
Mr. DENNIS. No; I don't think I would, because there they say that we have all the rights, attributes, and powers of sovereignty, and those are perpetual. So I don't think there is any need of using the word "perpetuity" there. Mr. MORSE. You think it would have been redundant in article III?
Mr. Dennis. Yes; I do. I think when you say “all the rights of sovereignty” you are talking about a perpetual situation by the very term.
Mr. MORSE. What were the features of the 1967 treaty which you found offensive to U.S. sovereignty in the area described in article II ?
Mr. DENNIS. The proposed treaty, you mean?
Mr. DENNIS. As I already said, I would include the idea of turning control over to this binational commission with a binational board; you could have a quorum there, for instance, with four Panamanians and one American and decide to do most anything. That is offensive
Now also there was a provision in one of those treaties for flying the Panamanian flag and, the way it was put, it said you should fly the Panamanian flag, and you might fly or you may fly the American flag also. To me that is offensive from a patriotic point of view. It is also conceding a point that I would not concede.
All through that treaty, the 1967 treaties--there were two or three of them and all through these treaties they absolutely say and recognize that Panama has the sovereignty. These proposed treaties concede that, and then they go ahead and get us back a few things. I just don't see any reason why we should
concede anything like that. At the very most you have got a debatable argument here. Sure, let them debate it but don't concede anything. We have got the things that matter, let's keep them. I don't see why we should seriously consider doing anything else, really.
Mr. MORSE. Thanks very much.
I wonder whether you formed any judgment on whether the anticipated demands on the canal are such that at some point this canal will no longer perform its function, because if that is the case, this would be the only reason that I could see for our giving up something that we have got in perpetuity. If we need something that we don't have—I am talking primarily about the sea level canal and the limited capacity of the present canal to handle the traffic which presents itself.
Mr. DENNIS. Well, we are getting into technical fields where I don't claim any particular expertise, but I would say this: that I think this canal will still remain useful for a long, long time and if we need something else, an additional canal, there are a number of ways and places you can get it and I don't think we have to concede anything very important to us in order to get it, if we play our cards right.
Mr. MAILLIARD. There have been studies made and there is some difference of opinion, but there are estimates that sometime around the turn of the century the probabilities are that the present canal will not be able to handle the traffic that is presented for transit. There are a number of possible solutions to this, as I am sure you
One time we started a third set of locks to meet this very problem and that was abandoned during World War II. But if this contention is a fact, and I don't know for sure whether it is or not, and that the
economical solution to it is a sea level canal and the best place for a sea level canal is in some other part of Panama, then obviously we need a new treaty.
Mr. DENNIS. Well, I think a canal would be of so much advantage to Panama, if they could recognize their own advantage, that it should not be necessary, at all, to concede sovereignty and control and all that in order to get them to agree to one. I would say it would really be worth putting the canal in Nicaragua or Colombia, or somewhere where you have people who would see their own self-interest and who would do business with you.
Mr. MAILLIARD. I think you have to concede it is a fact of life in today's diplomatic world that no government would give us the attributes of sovereignty over their territory.
Mr. DENNIS. We might have to make some concessions and I am not saying we would not, although I would certainly get us everything we could as far as I am concerned. But making a new treaty about a new canal is one thing, and I don't think, in order to do that, that we have to give up anything on the one we have got. I would not be blackmailed about it.
Mr. MAILLIARD. It is a question of who is doing the blackmailing. Mr. FASCELL. Mr. Kazen.
Mr. Kazen. Mr. Dennis, is it your opinion that the treaties that were negotiated in recent years were detrimental to the United States?
Mr. Dennis. Well, I am no expert on this field but it seems to me, from what little I know, that in those treaties, the things we gave up were more or less of a minor commercial nature, and that actually our
a rights, sovereign, or whatever they may be, were reaffirmed and recognized-pretty specifically in the 1936 treaty and by implication at least in the other one. So on the whole I don't think they did do us any particular harm, because of that fact.
Mr. KAZEN. Well, what about the agreements reached that were never ratified ?
Mr. DENNIS. Those proposed 1967 treaties absolutely, as I said a minute ago, proceed on the basis that we don't have any sovereignty, it is all Panama's, and that the Panamanian flag should be flown. We reserve certain rights of defense under this binational commission. Certainly, I think they are very detrimental to our interests. I would not favor those treaties.
Mr. KAZEN. Were those treaties ever ratified by Panama?
Mr. KAZEN. What do you think kept them from ratifying if it was to their advantage!
Mr. DENNIS. Well, I don't know. Of course, I cannot tell what was in their minds, but I think it is possible that some of the Panamanians don't agree with me. They think these treaties don't go far enough; and besides they have had a pretty unsettled condition down there, and also we were not ratifying them. So I suppose there could be a lot of reasons, I don't really know. I think you could read these treaties and tell that they are not to our advantage. If the Panamanians don't understand that, I just don't think they are willing to see what the proposed treaties say.
Mr. KAZEN. Thank you.
Mr. FASCELL. Thank you very much, Congressman Dennis. We appreciate your testifying and your response to the question of the subcommittee.
Mr. DENNIS. You're very welcome.
Mr. FASCELL. Our next witness today is the distinguished Representative in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Lawrence G. Williams.
Without objection we will print Mr. Williams statement in its entirety at this point so that you can speak extemporaneously and tell us what your thoughts are and give us an opportunity to ask you a few questions.
(The prepared statement of Mr. Williams follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. LAWRENCE G. WILLIAMS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Chairman. It is a very real pleasure for me to appear before the distinguished subcommittee on Inter-American Affairs today. I am taking this opportunity to deal with H. Res. 256 which I submitted. This resolution is identical to, or similar to, a number of others submitted on this very important canal problem.
I appreciate the fact that there is a highly alert and widespread opposition by the citizens of the United States against giving away our sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone.
This loss of sovereignty is so important that it should receive immediate consideration in the House.
There is considerable danger in the negotiations now underway between the U.S. and Panama. On the agenda for those negotiations, which have been underway since June 29, 1971, are such vital Panama Canal issues as: jurisdiction, duration, land and water requirements, expansion of canal capacity, and compensation.
I believe that the issue of jurisdiction should not be on that agenda at all. The fact that it has become a topic for negotiation should be a warning to us. It would be disastrous if Congress was complacent about such a situation. One reason for this warning is the massive propaganda campaign now taking place in Panama for the surrender of the U.S. sovereignty and jurisdiction to Panama.
With world problems growing as they are, it is increasingly important that we should not give the Panama Canal away. It is an area of vital importance and the more the United States relinquishes control, the more trouble we are asking for.
The Panama Canal is a fine example of engineering wisdom. It is strategically located in the middle of the Western hemisphere. It is a phenomenal 50-milelong structure. It took the United States 11 years to build it, and that part of the project cost the United States $2.9 billion.
U.S. sovereignty in the Canal Zone dates to 1903. At that time, plans for the Canal were in the Colombia area. Panama declared itself independent of Colombia in 1903, and Panama granted the 10-mile wide canal strip to the United States by treaty ratified February 26, 1904.
“Security” and “National Defense” play a highly meaningful role today in the job of administering the Panama Canal. However, security and national defense were not included in Panama Canal statutes until 1945 when Public Law 280 took effect. Also, that new law included authority for comprehensive investigation of building a second canal at a different location.
We are aware of the threat of revolutionary forces in Central America. Such trouble-making forces have been building up tremendous strength in Central America. Nearby Cuba is a Communist country.
You will recall the rioting that took place in January of 1964, in a dispute over flying the United States and Panamanian flags, and terms of the 1903 treaty. At least 21 Panamanians and 3 U.S. soldiers died in the rioting. By April of that year, a joint declaration calling for peaceful negotiation by the two governments was necessary to quiet the troubles.
We have good cause to be alert right now. A statement dated September 1971, from the Office of Inter-Oceanic Canal Negotiations said, “Panama is determined to terminate current U.S. treaty rights 'as if sovereign' and extend the jurisdiction of the government of Panama into what is now the Canal Zone.”
If such is the case, we have a right and a duty to retain that which is ours. There should be no encouragement for giving the revolutionary government of Panama any jurisdiction at all into the Canal Zone. The Senate as well as the House of Representatives, has been given power and authority in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution, to dispose of territory and other property of the United States, and that is what the Canal Zone is, and that is what we must retain.
Because there is more than a passing interest in the Canal by great world powers outside the free world, the revolutionary government of Panama should not be entrusted with and jurisdiction over the Canal Zone as a replacement authority for the United States. For our own benefit and the benefit of the free world, we must retain jurisdiction in the Canal Zone. If it were under Panama's authority, not only would the protection and security of our own Nation be threatened with cut-off, but potentially we would be harming other free world Nations as far as military and world trade by sea is concerned.
This country was the only country, at the turn of the century, which believed it could shoulder the obligations relating to building a highly needed canal at the isthmus between North and South America. Since then, the costs at the Panama Canal have been skyrocketing. Here are examples of how our investment has helped to keep us keenly interested in sovereignty, while helping Panama and others.
The first U.S. payment made to Panama at the time of ratification of the 1904 Treaty was $10 million in cash. After 9 years, annual payments were to amount to $250 thousand each.
In 1922 the nation of Colombia accepted $25 million from the United States and agreed finally to recognize Panama. That year, the United States almost doubled its annual payment to Panama to $430 thousand.
In 1955 the annuity paid to Panama more than quadrupled, rising to $1,930,000. We al gave Panama $28 million worth of real estate and buildings no longer needed by the Canal Zone administration.
Canal improvements and other costs have increased our investment in the Canal Zone to over $5 billion.
We have been more than fair with Panama and our own national interest dictates that we maintain full sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone.
STATEMENT OF HON. LAWRENCE G. WILLIAMS, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Williams. Well, first of all I regard the Panama Canal as being very important to this country and I don't even believe that the negotiations now taking place should include anything regarding our sovereignty or jurisdiction over the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Zone. Actually in 1904 the treaty that was signed in that year gave us permanent jurisdiction and sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone.
I don't like the way things are going in Panama. You know, they are right now under a revolutionary or a military government. There is considerable unrest in Central America so that I think our stake in the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Zone has got to be protected.
Now there is a statement contained in my written statement to the effect that Panama was in effect going to take over the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Zone. I don't think that they have any right to do this. The canal and Canal Zone belongs to us and I think we have a right to protect that which does belong to us. We have over $5 billion invested in this project.
We were the only country in the world who at the turn of the century thought we could actually pick up this obligation of construct