50 U.S VIOLATIONS OF THE CARTER-TORRIJOS TREATIES by Luis Restrepo Panamanian journalist I

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50 U.S VIOLATIONS OF THE CARTER-TORRIJOS TREATIES by Luis Restrepo Panamanian journalist INTRODUCTION "The country is a dream of a shared future; the country is, above all, hope of the future." --Omar Torrijos 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 national struggle. 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. EXPERIENCES 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 country. 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 intolerable. 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 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 Torrijos-Carter Treaties. 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, etc. 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 Panama Canal. 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 will participate. 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 Administrator. 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 jobs. 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 festivals. 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 longer exist. 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 U.S. law. 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 citizens. 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 prohibit. 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 inspecting ships. 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 Treaty. 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 States Code 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 Joint Committee. 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 Bureau. 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

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