50 U.S VIOLATIONS OF THE CARTER-TORRIJOS TREATIES
by Luis Restrepo
"The country is a dream of a shared future;
the country is, above all, hope of the future."
A chapter in the important struggle for national integrity of Omar
Torrijos ended in September 7, 1977, when Omar Torrijos Herrera,
representing Panama, and the President of the United States of
America, James Carter, signed the Panama Canal Treaties at the
headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.
To the Panamanian people, it was a historic event, an undeniable
evidence of success for the new international policy of Panama
inaugurated by General Torrijos. That moment had a significant
importance ongoing struggle of Panamanians for their liberation,
their independence, and for strengthening their sovereignty.
We Panamanians were aware that without boasting, but with resolution
and dignity, the Republic of Panama and its leaders had put aside
the policy of diplomatic secrecy imposed by the United States upon
all negotiations carried out during this country with our country--a
suitable policy to impose their interests--they wanted to maintain
that secrecy at all costs during this historic moment.
The Panamanians realized then that Omar Torrijos had every reason to
put aside the bilateral negotiations with the United States that
were taking place at the "Panama Desk" in the State Department and
look for international support for the Panamanian issue.
Torrijos started by strengthening domestic militancy. He fostered
the participation of Students' Federation and the national labor
movement, and incorporated the agricultural communities into the
At that moment, with his domestic and international pilgrimage, Omar
Torrijos was carrying out a long pilgrimage for a small country that
spoke with the voice of a giant; he shouted the Panamanian truth
that thus was made known in every part of the world; he converted
the Panamanian creed into the religion of many governments and
hundreds of millions of people from all the nations of the planet.
Omar Torrijos dared to break the colonialist circle imposed on
Panama by the United States. It is true as General Omar Torrijos
stated, that not all the aspirations of the Panamanian people were
being achieved--but steps were begun which would be taken further as
the process of decolonization developed.
The Panamanians considered that the Panama Canal and Canal
Neutrality Torrijos-Carter Treaties were a positive step in the
national liberation struggle as well as in the elimination of the
colonialist enclave built by the United States in the core of our
We Panamanians understood that the United States, a powerful,
imperialist and aggressive nation would not yield easily the
benefits it had gained by its political, economic and military
presence in the Republic of Panama. The Canal Zone in Panama
fulfilled many purposes within the U.S. strategy of control over
Latin American, especially Panama, Central America and the
Caribbean, as well as for U.S. political, economic and military
expansion in the Pacific Ocean.
The construction and subsequent administration of the Panama Canal
allowed the United States to expand its world trade and spread its
political, economic and military influence in areas as far away as
Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Despite the usually frustrating experiences of our country in the
Canal relations with the US, we trusted once more in the honesty of
the other party, and so believing, a pact between the two nations
was negotiated and approved.
The truth was different. The ink used by U.S. President Jimmy
Carter, who committed the honor of his nation by signing the canal
treaties was still wet when the Congress of the United States,
showing utter contempt for world opinion, passed the Panama Canal
Law, better known as Law 96-70 on September 29, 1979.
THE SOUTHERN COMMAND
One of the most important commitments agreed upon between Panama and
the United States in the Canal Treaties is the ending of the
military presence of the US in Panama by December 31, 1999.
Panama has been the site for one of the most important US command
posts in its world operations. The particular strategic objective
of this command post is to control Central America and the Caribbean
and to maintain direct contact with U.S. embassies and military
organizations in South America.
According to General Wallace Nutting, former Commander in Chief of
the Southern Command, "to move the Southern Command to another place
of this continent will be highly expensive; furthermore, in no other
place can it work with the efficiency required to control Latin
American as it does in the Panamanian isthmus."
The United States never intended to hand over the Canal and that is
the reason why it has always kept a militarization policy in the
Panama Canal Administration. The key positions in the
administration are held by armed forces men who "were removed from
the army or the Navy" to accept those positions in the Canal
Commission. The United States is exerting pressure on the
Panamanian government so it will accept the renegotiation of the
permanence of the Southern Command in Panama beyond the year 2000.
Despite all its pressures the United States has not accomplished
that purpose. For that reason it has orchestrated a campaign of
offensive and virulent allegations against General Manuel Antonio
Noriega, Command in Chief of the Defense Forces of Panama, who has
taken on a nationalistic leadership which U.S. leaders find
The assassination of General Torrijos and the violent campaign of
defamation against General Noriega, the increasing violations of the
canal treaties; the political, economic and diplomatic terrorism
show that nothing will deter the United States in its determination
to impose the limitless presence of the Southern Command in Panama.
Law 96-70 was conceived, passed and applied with the worst
intentions by the United States. It is a law that fosters and
justifies up to aberrant extremes the overdoing of jurisdictional,
operative and administrative powers by the government of the United
States, which, through the approval and application of the above-
mentioned law, violently disrupts the spirit and wording of the
It must be strongly stated that the promulgation and application of
Law 96-70 has gravely and definitely affected most of the righteous
claims of the Panamanian people in their generations-long struggle
to take advantage of this important natural resource of our country.
Law 96-70 attempts to perpetuate the image of the Canal enclave.
The United States has placed that law above the Panama Canal
Treaties and has imposed schemes of the 1903 Treaty and other
agreements and commitments that were abolished when the new Canal
Treaties came into force.
Law 96-70 is an anti-juridical instrument which denies the United
States' acknowledgement of the sovereignty of the Republic of Panama
over its territory as specified in the preface of the Torrijos-
Carter Treaties of the Panama Canal.
REGARDING THE VIOLATIONS
The violations or infringements of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty
committed by the United States, can be grouped and then studied
according to the objectives of such violations or infringements.
Some violations originate from the application of the United States
Congress Public Law 96-70 regarding the implementation of the
Treaties. Other violations originate directly from U.S. government
officials. Both can be grouped according to the aggression against
the Republic of Panama as follows:
A) Organic Aspects,
B) Labor Aspects,
C) Financial Aspects,
D) Jurisdictional Aspects.
The government of Panama has complained about these violations
directly to the government of the United States. The same
denunciations are being stated in all international forums: United
Nations, Organization of American States, Non-Aligned Countries,
The United States has not stopped his aggression against Panama.
Violations of the Treaties are increasing as January 1, 1990 comes
closer, the date on which, according to the agreement between the
two nations, a Panamanian shall be appointed as Administrator of the
FIFTY VIOLATIONS OF THE TREATY
1. Establishing a Panama Canal Commission in the U.S. executive
branch, under the leadership and direct authority of the President
of the United States who will exercise his authority through the
Secretary of Defense in spite of the fact that the Treaty very
clearly establishes that this Agency will be under the direction and
authority of a Joint Board of Directors in which four Panamanians
2. To reduce the oversight function of the Board established by the
Treaty to a mere supervisory role.
3. To subject the rulings of the Board of Directors to the approval
of the Secretary of State.
4. To create the position of Chief Engineer not established in the
Treaty, with functions to be prescribed by the President and which
could be the same that are today carried out by the United States
5. To diminish the authority of the Advisory Committee, converting
it into a merely diplomatic forum.
6. To discriminate against the Panamanian representatives on the
Board of Directors and on the Joint Commission for the Environment
regarding travel expenses and fees.
7. To grant the United States Ambassador authority not agreed upon
in the Treaty regarding the coordination of the transfer of duties
to the Republic of Panama in accordance with the Treaties.
8. To subject the Panamanian employees of the Commission to the
labor laws of the United States, although the Treaties state that
the terms and conditions of employment of such employees shall be
approved by the Board of Directors of the Commission and will
therefore be local.
9. To subject the employees of the Commission to a competitive
system without giving consideration to the directives of the Treaty
which calls for a growing participation of Panamanians in these
10. To leave open the possibility that the Administrator or Deputy
Administrator of the Canal might be an active member of the United
States Armed Forces.
11. To create a system of subsidies exclusively for the North
Americans employed as functionaries, not contemplated in the Treaty.
12. To give preferential eligibility to United States war veterans,
ignoring the principle of preferential eligibility for Panamanians
as established in the Treaties.
13. To ignore festivals and national holidays established by
Panamanian laws and instead to celebrate U.S. holidays and
14. To charge as operating costs for the Canal the amortization of
the fund to pay advanced retirement due to those who worked for the
Panama Canal Company and the Canal Zone Government, both of which no
15. To charge as operating costs of the Commission allowances given
to employees of the Panama Canal and which are not established in
the stipulations of the Retirement Law of the Canal Zone.
16. To charge as operating costs for the Commission the purchase of
artificial limbs and similar devices for those who were injured
while working for the Panama Canal Company.
17. To create a Personnel Policy Coordinating Board in which no
Panamanians participate, which is not answerable to the Board of
Directors and which is not contemplated in the Treaty.
18. To apply Title 5 of U.S. Code to the labor relations of the
Commission, thus subjecting Panamanian employees to the authority of
the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board.
19. To place the administration of the finances of the Commission
under the control of the U.S. Congress, which will not assign funds
for use by the Commission, nor will allow the Commission to commit
any funds unless those funds have been specifically authorized by
20. To limit the financial responsibility of the United States in
the Canal, by stating that no funds will be allocated for the use of
the Commission during any fiscal year when there is a surplus income
produced by the Canal.
21. To refuse to release from the United States Treasury the
emergency funds of the Panama Canal in order to cope with
emergencies such as the recent massive landslide in Cerro de Oro.
22. To create a system of accounting which goes beyond the Law of
Accounting and Auditing of 1950 and which is not in accordance with
generally accepted norms and practices of accounting.
23. To list capital investment as operating costs.
24. To charge as operating costs the depreciation of equipment and
machinery of the old Panama Canal Company and which the Commission
received through transfers or with titles of non-responsibility.
25. To exclude the Republic of Panama from the audit to determine
the surplus to which Panama has a right by Treaties.
26. To charge as canal operating costs, public services such as
education and health to Zone employees who are United States
27. To extend the use of the United States diplomatic pouches to
include the personal correspondence of the Zone employees of the
Canal and to bill this service as a Commission operating cost.
28. To charge as Commission operating costs the deficits of past
fiscal years, thus affecting the surplus which ought to be paid to
Panama as a result of operations of each fiscal year.
29. To prohibit the authorizations of tolls in tariffs calculated to
cover the payments of surplus to Panama, which the Treaty does not
30. To limit the responsibility of the commission for damages or
losses caused by Canal workers to $50,000 and then to refuse to pay
the Port Authority for damages in the ports beyond that amount.
31. To create in Panama a U.S. tribunal of investigation with the
name of Local Inspectors Group which can summon witnesses, take
depositions under oath, subpoena books and documents, pass
judgements, and carry out other judicial proceedings.
32 To return to the United States all possessions and other current
assets of the Panama Canal Company on the day the treaty took effect
and to give the Commission the right of use only. With this
stipulation, the United States has been transferring to other U.S.
agencies land and assets of the Canal with a free title, and will
transfer all removable office equipment and machinery to other U.S.
agencies at the expiration date of the Treaties.
33. To place under the authority of the President of the United
States and not of the Board of Directors the right to establish and
from time to time change the tolls tariffs and regulations for
34. To prohibit tolls from being set at a level which would produce
enough income to cover the payment of surplus agreed upon in the
35. To charge to the operations of the Commission the interests
"over the investment of the United States in the Panama Canal" and
to unilaterally utilize a whimsical formula for charging interest.
36. To subject the change of the regulations of the Canal's waters
to a judiciary meeting according to Chapter 7 Title 5 of the United
37. To grant the United States President authority to prescribe
municipal and police regulations to be applied in Panama, such as
the exclusion and dismissal of persons, the possession and use of
alcoholic beverages, health and sanitation, use of aircraft, the
guarding and penning of animals, the selling or use of fireworks,
the protection of wildlife, hunting and fishing, the issuance of
official and marine permits for ships crossing the Canal and
adjacent waters, including the ports of Balboa and Cristobal.
38. To appoint an economist after qualified Panamanians had applied
for that position.
39. To refuse to fly the Panamanian flag in the Commission's ships
operating in Panamanian waters instead of using pirate flags.
40. To maintain U.S. citizens in their jobs after their retirements
when there were better qualified Panamanians.
41. To grant privileges for purchases in military PX's and the use
of U.S. post offices to "Zonians" without any agreement with the
42. To refuse to retain income tax from citizens of third countries
who are working in the Canal.
43. To refuse to cooperate with Panamanian authorities, as
established by the Treaty, in deducting payment for alimony and
debts ordained by competent courts of justice in Panama from the
salaries of Commission employees.
44. To establish mechanisms to eliminate positions vacated by United
States citizens for the purpose of not employing qualified
Panamanians. Such is the case of the Engineering and Construction
45. To maintain preferential fees for United States citizens for
housing, electricity, water, education and health care not
authorized by the Treaty.
46. To charge as Canal operating expense the salaries of domestic
employees serving the Commission Administrator, expenses not
established in the Treaties.
47. To maintain illegal mechanisms for substituting during the
temporary absence of top employees, even if there are qualified
Panamanians, by always choosing United States citizens even if they
lack the necessary qualifications.
48. To refuse to employ Panamanians in the office of the Commission
in the United States, in violation of the agreement.
49. To administrating the Commission from Washington, bypassing the
authority of the Administration.
50. To create a special police corps carrying guns and wearing
uniforms as an act of provocation to the Panamanian police who are
in charge of keeping the peace by constitution and by Treaty
mandate. This is an act for provoking violence.
frontera carnet.panama 11:41 pm Jan 10, 1988
from The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358
Source: NY OnLine BBS 718-852-2662