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Restore U.S. Military Bases to the Panama Canal
and Get
Red China OUT of Panama
This Page: 1999 and Earlier Reports  Read 2000 Reports

The Conservative Caucus
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Important Panama Resources and Links:

Action Needed   H.C.R. 186 - Rep. Rohrabacher's Excellent Resolution   Clinton Admits China Runs Canal   Pope Warns Panama Against "Outside Influences" at Canal  Video of Howard Phillips at Canal   Clinton Shuns Canal Surrender   Senate Testimony--Rep. Rohrabacher--Rep. Barr & other experts   Capt. Russell Evans' New Article   Sen. Lott Calls for Hearings   Helen Chenoweth's Bill, H.J.RES.77, to Cancel Treaty   Progress in Panama   Howard Phillips' Newspaper Article   Official Panama Canal Site   Sen. Lott Alarmed at Chinese Power at Canal   Panama's Law #5 Giving Chinese Company Unusual Powers   National Archives: Index of Canal Documents    State Dept: Treaties & Info   Voter Survey on Canal   Nice Photos of Canal   Live Camera at Canal Locks   Canal Construction Photos   Cool Animation of Canal Operation!   Send E-Mail to Congress and the Media   Lobbying Guide   Donate to Support Our Efforts!

Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of December 31, 1999

PHILLIPS AND KLAYMAN JOIN FORCES TO CHALLENGE AWARD OF PANAMA PORTS CONTRACT TO HUTCHISON WHAMPOA

Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman and I visited Panama December 13-15 and were present when Jimmy Carter, along with David Rockefeller and Sol Linowitz, turned over the American canal to Panama President Mireya Moscoso.

As Chairman of The Conservative Caucus, the grassroots lobbying organization which led the campaign against the 1978 Carter-Torrijos Panama Canal treaties, I told a news conference in Panama City on the morning of December 14:

U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE FAVORED BY MOST PANAMANIANS

"We have come here today to express the solidarity of millions of Americans with the overwhelming majority of the Panamanian people who recognize that it is in the common interest of both our countries to restore a U.S. military presence in Panama which will help deter and defeat physical threats to the Panama Canal.

DETERRENCE IS LESS COSTLY THAN INTERVENTION

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is not enough to say that U.S. forces can be re-introduced once a threat has been perceived and the canal has been disabled.

"For example, were there to be a successful act of terrorism at Gatun, the canal could be closed for as long as three years, no matter how many troops might be introduced after the fact. Such an eventuality would be a tragedy for commercial interests throughout the world, and a particular problem for the economy of Panama, even more than that of the United States.

IN TIME OF WAR U.S. NAVY NEEDS RAPID ACCESS TO ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC

"From a military standpoint, closure of the canal would gravely undermine America's military capabilities worldwide.

HUTCHISON WHAMPOA CONTRACT AWARD WAS CORRUPTLY DETERMINED

"The people of Panama are no less honest and God-fearing than the people of the United States of America. In both countries, hard working citizens are revulsed and disgusted by examples of corruption and bribery. Clearly the contract awarding Hutchison Whampoa control of Balboa and Cristobal was corruptly concluded.

TCC AND JUDICIAL WATCH SEEK TO REVOKE THE PORTS CONTRACT

"It is in the best interests of Panama and the United States to revoke this corrupt contract and to reopen negotiations in such a manner that the process will be transparent and the result will be accepted as just by all concerned.

"To this end, Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, and I, as Chairman of The Conservative Caucus, will work with officials of the U.S. government to encourage the government of Panama to revoke the Hutchison Whampoa contract and reopen the bidding process.

"In the same vein, we are ready to explore with citizens of Panama and members of the Panamanian legislature opportunities to review and revoke this contract in the courts of Panama as well as by legislation or executive decision.

A RETURN TO PANAMA IS AMERICA'S MOST COST-EFFECTIVE OPTION

"Finally, in order to facilitate negotiation of an arrangement whereby the governments of Panama and the United States would agree to the reintroduction of a U.S. military presence to assure defense of the canal, we are prepared to work in the United States for the appropriation of funds which would make it economically advantageous to Panama to participate in such an arrangement, just as it will be economically advantageous to the United States not to have to fully replicate in other venues the kinds of facilities and strategic resources which have been temporarily abandoned in Panama.

"It is less expensive for the United States, and, indeed, it is more just, for us to pay reasonable leasing fees to the Republic of Panama than to expend hundreds of millions of dollars on alternative arrangements in such places as Ecuador, Belize, Aruba, Curacao, and Costa Rica, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Florida. ...

"Our purpose in coming today is to help lay the groundwork for a mutually secure future for all the peoples of Panama, the United States, and the entire Western Hemisphere."


CHINESE REDS CONVERT MERCHANT SHIPPING TO MILITARY PURPOSES

"Based on reliable sources, with the coordination of the Ministry of Communications, the Chinese Navy is stepping up efforts to refit a great number of merchant ships in reserve to make up for the shortage of naval landing vessels. In principle, the refitting effort is aimed at 'using these ships both in peace time and war time.' ...

"Container ships can be equipped with container-type guided missile vertical launching systems or area air defense guided missiles, which have a ground fire control capability and can provide long-range air defense support for naval forces."

CONTAINER SHIPS CAN TRANSPORT TANKS AND MISSILES

"This military officer said that China is a major shipping country in the world having large shipping tonnage. The ship models include all kinds of container ships, freighters, passenger ships, and barges with a strong carrying capacity, high speed, and rapid loading and unloading capacity. ...

"The 'Haifeng' container ships of the China Ocean Shipping Company have large stern elevators that can help tanks for both sea and ground operations and armored vehicles launch attacks or land on beachheads. The large roll-on ships can rapidly load and unload all kinds of light vehicles and materials at the floating wharves quickly built by engineering troops. ...

"Some merchant ships with medium or higher displacements may also be equipped with large-caliber and multiple-tube rocket launchers, medium-sized and small caliber anti-aircraft guns, and heavy anti-tank missiles and shoulder-fired air defense guided missiles. ..."

ANTI-AIRCRAFT, ANTI-TANK, MINE LAYING, AND MISSILE LAUNCH CAPABILITIES FACILITATED

"[I]n blockade warfare and information warfare, guided by the military, merchant ships can carry out the missions of laying mines, launching missile attacks, installing electronic deception equipment, and data link systems. In addition, they can be used as launching and retrieving platforms or control stations for unmanned aerodynamic vehicles (UAVs)." Source: "PLA Refits Merchant Ships in Reserve", staff reporter, Hong Kong Ming Pao in Chinese, 11/2/99, p. b14)


ADMIRAL MOORER SAYS CHINESE PORT CONTROL PUTS AMERICA AT RISK

David Kupelian reports (WorldNetDaily.com, 12/1/99), concerning Bill Clinton and Chinese Communist influence on Panama, that "the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff [Admiral Thomas Moorer] is very concerned about 'adverse consequences.' 'I am appalled,' Moorer told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview, 'that the president would make such a statement, and that his advisers would mislead him to this degree. If what he says takes place, and the Chinese are allowed to remain and increase their presence, the results will be catastrophic for the U.S.'

"'If we have to go back in to restore the canal to its previous position,' he said, 'there will be many casualties, and they won't be confined to the canal area itself. Our inability to move our forces back and forth (through the canal) will result in casualties of our forces in other parts of the world.' If the U.S. is prevented from navigating through the Panama Canal, it must travel an extra 9,000 miles around South America.

"Moorer added an ominous warning regarding China's strategic use of the canal. 'No one seems to grasp the threat to the U.S. that can be posed by Chinese container ships. When the Russians brought missiles into Cuba, American citizens went into a panic,' said Moorer. 'But now, following the lead of the president, Americans are practically ignoring' China's ability to do the same.

"A Chinese dissident who spoke to WorldNetDaily on condition of anonymity, echoed Moorer's concern."


U.S. BASES WERE INTENDED FOR PANAMANIAN MILITARY, NOT RED CHINA, HUTCHISON WHAMPOA, OR ANY OTHER FOREIGN ENTITY

According to a July 1999 Policy Paper, Panama Canal Transition: The Final Implementation, published by The Atlantic Council of the United States, "The initial concept ... envisioned that [U.S. military properties and facilities] would be transferred to Panama's defense forces (PDF).... At the time treaty implementation planning began, U.S. force numbered about 10,000, which was about the size of Panama's military forces. ... One of the early acts of the new government [installed in 1989] was to disband the PDF....

"At the beginning of the implementation period, U.S. military force administered about 93,000 acres and 5,000 buildings. The value of the facilities alone now is estimated at about $3.8 billion, not including the land. ...some facilities were held until the final year of transition because of ongoing U.S. military operations and the possibility of establishing a multinational counternarcotics center, which failed to materialize. ...

"Completing the transfer in 1999 is an enormous job for both countries. For the United States...redeploying about 76,000 pieces of military equipment, 4,000 military personnel, along with families, including about 3,000 pets. About 175,000 pieces of non-military equipment in Panama will be declared excess and available to Panama in barter arrangements in exchange for services and temporary support during the transition."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of November 15, 1999

PANAMA PORTS CHIEF LI KA-SHING PROFITS FROM CLOSE TIES TO RED CHINESE POLITBURO

The Far Eastern Economic Review (10/29/99) reports that "the ports arm of Hutchison Whampoa, a group controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, has forged a profitable alliance with China's biggest shipping firm, China Ocean Shipping Group, or Cosco. The two got together in 1993 when Cosco bought into a new container port in Shanghai developed by Hutchison Port Holdings.

"Cosco had initially complained loudly because the new port was charging higher rates than other Shanghai ports, according to a 1997 report by Credit Suisse First Boston. But later it agreed to take a 10% stake. CSFB's report noted that the relationship also spawned an alliance between Cosco and Hutchison's Hong Kong terminal operator, Hutchison International Terminals.

"Today, that unexpected get-together has turned into a happy accommodation. The pricey Shanghai port is one of the best performers for Hutchison, while Cosco and HIT are jointly developing new terminals in Hong Kong and nearby Yantian. They are also looking at other potential ports projects in the mainland."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of October 15, 1999

WAS FORMER PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT PAID $15,000 PER HEAD TO ADMIT ILLEGAL ALIENS FROM RED CHINA?

Al Santoli reports in the August 18 edition of China Reform Monitor that "Panama's outgoing president Ernesto Perez Balladares, the head of Panama's intelligence agency, and high-level Panamanian customs officials have been accused of participating in the systematic smuggling of Chinese aliens -- who intended to proceed to the United States -- into Panama at $15,000 a head the Miami Herald reports. The U.S. Department of Justice reportedly believes the U.S. State Department may have purposely undermined their investigation of the case."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of June 15, 1999

PANAMA IS MORE IMPORTANT TO U.S. THAN BOSNIA

Pat Buchanan was interviewed by Chris Matthews on the June 3 edition of CNBC's Hardball:

PAT BUCHANAN: "[Y]ou've got Chinese Communists down there in Panama in the canal zone."

CHRIS MATTHEWS: "What are they doing?"

PAT BUCHANAN: "[T]hey got the Hutchinson Whampoa at both ends of the canal. These companies are controlled by Communist Chinese. They're gonna be building the railroad down there. And look, it seemed to me that might be in America's vital interest more than, say, Bosnia."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of April 15, 1999

RED CHINA CONTINUES TO FILL U.S. VACUUM IN PANAMA

La Prensa reports (3/24/99) from Panama City that "A 16-member PRC [Peoples Republic of China] delegation led by Zen Jian-hui, president of the PRC Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, visited Panama's Legislative Assembly on Tuesday [23 March] and signed a document to strengthen interparliamentarian relations between both countries. Democratic Revolutionary Party [PRD] Legislator Elias Castillo indicated....‘It is important for us to maintain good relations with the PRC...Panama must find ways to enter the PRC market....’

"As is well-known, the Hutchison Port Holdings company — an affiliate of Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong — has the concession for the Cristobal and Balboa ports (Panama Ports Company). Hutchison pays the Panamanian Government $22.2 million a year and makes large investments in the country."

JOINT VENTURES PLANNED

"Furthermore the PRC is the Panama Canal's third most important client after the United States and Japan. Approximately 200 ships belonging to COSCO, the PRC's largest shipping company, transit the canal.

"A PRC commercial mission, headed by Vice Commerce Minister Zhang Xiang, met with Panamanian Deputy Commerce Minister Laura Flores early in August 1998, to strengthen relations between both countries and promote new joint investment projects."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of February 28, 1999

WILL AMBASSADOR FERRO REPRESENT U.S. INTERESTS IN PANAMA?

Captain G. Russell Evans (USCG, Ret.), who has worked closely with The Conservative Caucus, the National Security Center, and other groups devoted to safeguarding America's position at the strategically crucial isthmus of Panama, has some questions for Bill Clinton's new Ambassador to Panama, Simon X. Ferro, who, immediately prior to his appointment was serving as Chairman of the Florida State Democratic Party, and who has also been a governor of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Ambassador Ferro assumed his post in Panama City on February 1.

Here are some of Capt. Evans' questions:

"1) The new Panama Law No. 5, passed in a secretive manner on Jan. 16, 1997, gives the Panama Ports Co. (actually Hutchison Port Holdings, an agent of Communist China) far-reaching rights, some infringing on U.S. Treaty rights: Priority operations at Balboa on the Pacific end of the Canal and at Cristobal on the Atlantic side (Art. 2.1 and Art. 2.11d) conflicts with rights of U.S. warships' ‘expeditious passage’ and ‘head of line’ guaranteed by Art. VI and Amendment (2) of the Panama Neutrality Treaty. Do you agree there is conflict and what action would you take/recommend to assure U.S. rights?

"2) This law grants Hutchison the option to operate Rodman Naval Station (Art. 2.1) and Albrook Air Force Station (Art. 2.12a) — both U.S. defense sites — in violation of Art. V of the Neutrality Treaty which allows Panama only in defense sites. Red China, via agent Hutchison, could operate bombers at Albrook and warships and submarines at Rodman. Do you agree? What do you recommend? Is status quo OK?

"3) Art. 2.10 and Art 2.12i authorize Hutchison to operate its own pilot services, a violation of Art. V of the Neutrality Treaty. Do you feel this is acceptable?

"4) Art. 2.1 grants Hutchison exclusive use of Telfers Island and Diablo, near U.S. intelligence operations at Galeta Island. Should the United States object under Art. 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties as a ‘fundamental change of circumstances’?

"5) Art. 2.8 authorizes Hutchison to transfer its 50-year lease to a third party, e.g., Cuba, Red China, North Korea. Should the United States object under Art. 62?

"6) This law would allow control of strategic Canal areas under a Communist-controlled agency, whose government calls the U.S. ‘China's main enemy,’ violating the spirit and intent of the Panama Treaties (Art. 2.11d and Art. 2.12a). Is this acceptable? ...

"19) In view of the foregoing threats and dangers to the Canal, do you believe the United States should notify the Republic of Panama that Hutchison Port Holdings, or any other Communist-affiliated agency, as ‘gatekeeper’ of the Canal is unacceptable and that Hutchison is also unacceptable in defense sites Rodman Naval Station and Albrook Air Force Station — all considered to be ‘fundamental changes of circumstances’ that warrant abrogation of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties unless corrected?"


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of January 31, 1999

COMMUNIST CUBA JOINS RED CHINA IN PARTNERSHIPS WITH PANAMA

Radio Havana (1/28/99) reports that "Cuba and Panama signed at the Panamanian capital an agreement for the promotion and protection of investments in the two countries, as well as a basic cooperation agreement between the two governments. The documents were signed by Cuban Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Minister Ibrahim Ferradaz and Panamanian Foreign Minister Jorge Eduardo Ritter. Following the signing of the two documents, Ibrahim Ferradaz emphasized the importance of this event, which strengthens Cuban-Panamanian ties. He said that this establishes a solid bridge for investors while the basic cooperation agreement between the two governments calls for the creation of a mixed commission that will revise bilateral cooperation in the finance, trade, culture, sports, and other sectors. Meanwhile, Panamanian Foreign Minister Jorge Eduardo Ritter said the signing of these agreements reaffirms the strong ties between Cuba and Panama, a country that has expressed its rejection of the unilateral measures adopted against Cuba, he said."


THE CLOCK IS TICKING IN PANAMA

On Tuesday, February 2nd, Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub (USA, Ret.) and I met with a junior staff member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in lieu of the meeting we had requested with Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.). We emphasized the urgency of prompt action:

(a) to halt the premature withdrawal of American forces from Panama and surrender of our facilities at the crucial isthmus,

(b) to make clear that the U.S. government will pay a reasonable leasing fee to secure a continued military presence at Panama, and

(c) to initiate discussions with the contenders for the Presidency of Panama, one of whom will be chosen in elections to be held this May.

JOHN WARNER IS NOW THE MAN RESPONSIBLE

Because of the military implications of policy in Panama, Senator Warner is uniquely positioned to play a decisive role.

Unless there is a prompt change in policy, at some point, we will have to pay a high price in blood and treasure to recover that which Congress and President Clinton are now surrendering. A vacuum is being created which Communist China has already begun to fill.

Here follows the briefing memo which I provided to Chairman Warner's staff, which, hopefully, he will at some point consider:

"A. Assumptions

It remains important to America's security interests to maintain U.S. facilities and military forces at the isthmus of Panama, even as we must prevent any actual or prospective hostile power from gaining a significant foothold in Panama.

Among the reasons for remaining in Panama are these:

1) to help America project power from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica,

2) to preserve the Jungle Operations Training Base, which is climatologically and topographically unique,

3) to help assure that America will be able to rapidly transit vessels through the Canal in times of military conflict or emergency,

4) to help outflank guerrilla and terrorist activity in Central America and the Caribbean,

5) to monitor, deter, and defeat drug activities targeted at the United States, but emanating in Latin America and Central America, and

6) to preserve unique intelligence gathering capabilities in the air, on the surface, and regarding submarine activity.

"B. Present Situation

American forces and facilities are scheduled to be at zero no later than December 31, 1999.

What was once a force of more than 10,000 troops is now below 4,000, heading to zero.

The Southern Command has been moved to Florida and replacement facilities are being established in Puerto Rico and Honduras.

A company indirectly controlled by the Communist Chinese has negotiated a 50-year contract at $22 million per year to control Balboa and Cristobal, at the Pacific and Atlantic ends of the Canal, along with rights to take over adjacent military facilities which have been under U.S. control.

"C. Plan of Action

The U.S. government, under Presidents Bush and Clinton, has consistently rejected appeals from Panamanian officials for our government to offer lease payments to Panama in return for support of a continued U.S. presence.

It is not too late to pursue this option, especially in view of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Panamanian people want America to stay.

Moreover, the incumbent President, who has become increasingly resistant to a continued U.S. presence, was overwhelming defeated in his bid to secure popular approval to change the Constitution to seek an additional term in office.

Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in May. It is possible that arrangements could be made with one or more of the prospective winners.

This should be a top priority. Although the new President will not take office until September, it is imprudent to continue the premature withdrawal of troops and turnover of facilities. At least until May, all such reversions and withdrawals should be frozen."

IF WARNER FAILS TO ACT, PANAMA WILL BE LOST

Chairman Warner is better situated than anyone else in the Congress to provide leadership on this issue. If he fails to act, it is increasingly likely that our foothold in Panama, one of the world's most crucial strategic chokepoints, will be lost.

Given growing Communist Chinese influence (there are already more than 100,000 Chinese in Panama, about 90% of whom have mainland ties), we may before long face the prospect of Panama being used as a base for America's enemies in much the same manner as Cuba was used by the Soviets.


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of October 15, 1998

RED CHINA MAY BE A BIGGER THREAT IN PANAMA THAN WAS USSR IN CUBA

"Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (Ret.), a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in closed session last summer that the U.S. is heading toward a confrontation with China over the Panama Canal, according to testimony obtained by WorldNetDaily...."

"PANAMA PORTS" = PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

"Moorer pointed out that Panama Ports Company (PPC) controls four of Panama's major ports. He identified PPC's principal owners as:

" Billionaire Li Ka-Shing (reportedly an ally ‘as close as lips and teeth’ to Beijing, which offered Ka-Shing the governorship of Hong Kong); Li Ka-Shing owns PPC's parent company Hutchinson-Whampoa Ltd.,

" China Resources Enterprise, an arm of the Chinese government identified as an ‘agent of espionage’ by Sen. Fred Thompson. The entity is also a solid partner with the Lippo Group, owned by the Riady family of Indonesia, also identified as possible espionage agents for the People's Liberation Army."

WILL RED CHINA LET U.S. SHIPS USE CANAL?

"He also pointed out that the deal granting sweeping concessions to Hutchinson-Whampoa states that company has the right to pilot all ships through the canal, raising the specter of the Chinese piloting U.S. Navy ships – or refusing to – after the U.S. hands over complete control next year.

"Moorer attacked as illegal Panama's ‘Law #5,’ which permits other military forces, defense sites and installations in the canal zone and raised concerns about infiltration of Panama again by drug lords...."

A WAR LOST WITHOUT A SHOT FIRED

"‘Hutchinson-Whampoa controls countless ports around the world,’ he said. ‘My specific concern is that this company is controlled by the Communist Chinese. They have virtually accomplished, without a single shot being fired, a stronghold on the Panama Canal, something which took our country so many years to accomplish – the building and control of the Panama Canal, along with military and commercial access in our own hemisphere...."

CUBA, LIBYA, IRAN, AND IRAQ COULD BENEFIT

"On Hutchinson's transferable ‘rights’ under law #5 to another company or nation, Moorer said: ‘This assignment, Mr. Chairman, could be given to Cuba, the actual Chinese government, Libya, Iraq, Iran, or any other stated opponent of the United States, including rogue states who sponsor terrorism and who have nuclear bombs aimed at this country right now. For instance, I believe the Communist Chinese have 13 such missiles aimed at our country presently. ...I, for one, cannot understand why our government has passively permitted this "law #5" to happen, thereby endangering our security interests in this hemisphere.’"

IN 1994 U.S. MILITARY INVESTED $4 BILLION --- SOON TO BE SURRENDERED

"Moorer identified the most important U.S. installation in Panama: ‘All ports in the Panama Canal are of strong strategic importance to this country, Mr. Chairman. But the most important U.S. military installation there is Howard Air Force Base, located on the Pacific side, which has the aircraft-capable airfield for conducting U.S. military or oversight operations. In 1994 alone, the U.S. military spent more than $4 billion in repairs and improvements at Howard.’"

U.S. ACCESS TO OIL AT RISK

"On the strategic importance of the Panama Canal to the U.S. he said: ‘The canal is the only viable way to transport oil to the East coast and the Gulf of Mexico from the West. And in every military conflict – past, present, or future – control of the canal has been and will remain an absolutely essential factor. Additionally, in either the Pacific or the Atlantic, the United States must be able to utilize the canal freely and without constraint to transport heavy armor, food, supplies and troops.’..."

"REVERSION" OF U.S. FACILITIES MUST BE HALTED IMMEDIATELY

"‘I don't like to offer constructive criticism without a proposed solution, and it is a simple one, in my view: Stop the process in Panama now. Don't relinquish another square foot of American bases in Panama unless and until the neutrality agreement already in place is honored by the Panamanian government. The Congress should pressure the administration to get their act together in the Panama Canal Zone. ... Demand that the Congress and this administration protect the American people and our strategic interest in the Panama Canal Zone before we reach that point of no return. ... We have dropped the ball in the Canal Zone, and the game is almost over. Let us not go into overtime. Let's act now.’" Source: WorldNetDaily, 10/19/98


JOIN NOW as a member of The Conservative Caucus.


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of July 31, 1998

PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT (PERMITTED BY CLINTON TO DELIVER CRISTOBAL AND BALBOA PORTS TO COMMUNIST CHINA) HIRES CARVILLE AS CAMPAIGN ADVISER

The corrupt relationship involving the selloff of U.S. assets in Panama to Communist China, with the approval of Panamanian President Ernesto Perez "Toro" Balladares is manifested in the fact that Balladares has now hired Clinton crony James Carville to help manage the campaign in support of a referendum which would allow Balladares to seek a second term.

According to El Panama (7/1/98) in Panama City, "Reelection. ‘Yes’ reelection campaign directors have received a valuable imported reinforcement in the person of James Carville, the same person who led Bill Clinton to the Presidency in 1992. Previously he succeeded in the campaigns for Senators Harris Woofford, Robert Casey, and Frank Lautenberg. Successes. He also led to victory state governors Zell Miller, Wallace Wilkinson, and Robert Casey."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of June 15, 1998

200,000 U.S. JOBS AND ONE-THIRD OF GRAIN EXPORTS
STILL DEPEND ON THE PANAMA CANAL

Attorney Robert R. McMillan, former Chairman of the Panama Canal Commission, wrote me on June 8th after having seen my brief recent appearance on C-SPAN, in which I raised concerns about the impending surrender of U.S. bases and facilities at Panama.

McMillan cautioned: "Beyond the military, do not overlook the economic importance. 200,000 jobs on the East and Gulf coasts of the United States are dependent on the Panama Canal. In addition, one-third of our grain exports transit the Canal on the way to Asia and the Pacific. Many other goods are also impacted."

In an article from the American Soybean Association, McMillan pointed out, "Some 13,000 ships transit the Panama Canal each year....In addition to soybeans, close to 70 percent of the other cargo transiting the Panama Canal is destined to or from the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans hold jobs directly dependent on the Panama Canal. Port cities from Maine to Florida on the Atlantic Ocean and from Florida to Texas on the Gulf Coast, not to speak of the East Coast of Canada, relate directly to Canal traffic."

IS NEGLECT OF REVERTED RAILROAD A HARBINGER OF CANAL'S TROUBLES?

"With some 9,000 employees and revenues of over $600 million, the Panama Canal is a vast maritime-industrial complex. Maintenance and training are key to the future of the Canal....questions still persist. First, there is concern over the way Panama dealt with the previously transferred ports and cross-isthmus railroad.

"Today the railroad no longer carries passengers. Additionally, the ports were allowed to deteriorate under Noriega and are only now being privatized in an effort to restore them. Whether the intelligent modernization and planning currently underway can be fully implemented by Panama remains an open question. The second question is whether Panama will resist politicizing the Canal in terms of staffing and toll policies. For these reasons, many Canal users are obviously anxious about the future."


1978 TREATY AUTHORIZES CONTINUED U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE

The Panama Canal Neutrality Treaty reads as follows: "Nothing in the Treaty shall preclude the Republic of Panama and the United States of America from making, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, any agreement or arrangement between the two countries to facilitate performance at any time after December 31, 1999, of their responsibilities to maintain the regime of neutrality established in the Treaty, including agreements or arrangements for the stationing of any United States military forces or the maintenance of defense sites after that date in the Republic of Panama that the Republic of Panama and the United States of America may deem necessary or appropriate." 

IT'S LATE, BUT NOT YET TOO LATE

The failure of Congress and the White House to put this section into force and press for a negotiation to extend the U.S. military presence in Panama is unconscionable.

America is surrendering the isthmus of Panama to chaos, uncertainty, and worse, because there is not a single person in the Congress of the United States willing and able to provide necessary leadership.

Without an American military presence, there is much reason for concern, not only with respect to random acts of terror, but, even more, from the foothold given Red China until the Year 2047 at the terminal ports of Balboa on the Pacific side of the Canal and Cristobal bordering the Atlantic.

RED CHINA EXTENDS $120 MILLION LOAN TO PANAMA

According to La Prensa (6/23/97), "Panama will sign a $120-million loan with the International Commercial Bank of China to finance the government's investment program and for the purchase and sale of assets that are of interest to the Panamanian Government.

"The loans are divided in two contracts: one for $70 million to finance social works and the second for $50 million to purchase and sell assets, which are not specified.

"According to Guillermo Chapman, the Panamanian planning and economic policy minister, the loans granted by the Chinese Government to Panama are more favorable than the ones approved by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)....The loan has a term of 15 years, a fixed annual interest rate of 3 percent over the amount disbursed that has not been paid, and is to be paid every six months. The initial payment will be made on the last day of the six-month period as will all subsequent payments at the end of each successive six-month period."


Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of March 15, 1997

On February 13, Gina Marie Hatheway, professional staff member for Inter-American Affairs of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted an urgent report asserting that "Unless there is a change in current policy, all US military forces will withdraw from Panama on December 31, 1999. If US forces depart, the United States will remain without a significant military presence in Latin America. A Protocol in the Permanent Neutrality Treaty of the Panama Canal makes provision for negotiation of a forward presence after 2000, if both countries express an interest in maintaining such a presence." 

CLINTON DROPPED THE BALL – AND CONGRESS HAS NOT MADE IT A PRIORITY

"In September 1995, Presidents Clinton and Balladares formally announced that the US and Panamanian Governments would begin exploratory talks on maintaining a US military presence in Panama. Fifteen months passed and no exploratory negotiations transpired. Instead, in November 1996, President Balladares announced to a young left-wing faction of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) – the political party which was founded by General Omar Torrijos and later backed General Manuel Noriega – that there would be no US forces in Panama beyond the year 2000....

"The report spells out why a base rights agreement officially is no longer subject for discussion and describes the Panamanian proposal for a Multilateral Counter-drug Center (MCC) as a potential framework for a continued US military presence in Panama....

"Although the commitments made by Presidents Balladares and Clinton have been eroded...efforts to negotiate a base rights agreement for a continued US military presence in Panama should not be completely discarded. Negotiating a base rights agreement better serves US interests than the proposed MCC....

Arriving at a viable agreement for a continued US military presence, preferably through a base rights negotiation, is of paramount importance to both the United States and Panama....

"US Government officials in Panama, specifically US Ambassador to Panama, Bill Hughes, and Commander-in-Chief (CinC) of US Southern Command (SouthCom), General Wesley Clark, are committed to pursuing an agreement to keep US forces in Panama...."

TIME IS RUNNING OUT

"Prior to Ambassador Hughes' arrival in Panama in late 1995, State Department officials in Washington and at the US embassy said that the US Government was not interested in maintaining a continued military presence in Panama.

"The United States lost an important opportunity to conclude an agreement before June 1996. The late Foreign Minister Gabriel Lewis, who headed the Panamanian delegation, stated his support for an agreement to keep US forces in Panama. Before Lewis stepped down due to illness, he had an informal understanding with senior US Government officials in Panama regarding the parameters of a continued US military presence....Gabriel Lewis died in December 1996...."

PANAMANIANS STILL WANT U.S. TO STAY

"Polls in Panama indicate that the vast majority of Panamanians are interested in maintaining a post-2000 US military presence in Panama. Yet, no one is willing to step forward and speak up for this silent majority. Those who oppose any type of US military presence in Panama are small in number but vocal...."

LEASING ARRANGEMENT SHOULD NOT BE PRECLUDED

"Washington rejected any kind of economic benefit to Panama in exchange for keeping the bases. By doing this, the US Government officially closed the door to maintaining US military facilities and installations in Panama as we have them now...."

DRUG CENTER IS INADEQUATE FOR U.S. STRATEGIC NEEDS

"The Panamanian Government has proposed the idea of establishing a Multilateral Counter-drug Center (MCC) at the location of the current US military facilities; the US military could take part in the center. After the Clinton Administration rejected the idea of any kind of economic compensation, Lewis suggested the MCC to US Government officials as a ‘political umbrella’ for US forces to stay in Panama. Under the MCC, the United States would not have operations control, as it does now, over the bases. Instead, they would be Panamanian bases, with several countries sending civilian and military officials to work there....Panamanian Government officials have made it clear that the MCC cannot be a disguise for a continued US military presence...."

"The longer the negotiation takes, the more vocal and effective the opposition to a continued US military presence in Panama becomes. SouthCom is confronting budgetary constraints, including the Program Objective Memorandum (the Defense Department's five-year budget plan which assesses and forces how much money is needed for military facilities, operations, and equipment), and domestic and worldwide military force projection. If an agreement is ever to be reached, it must be achieved by the summer of 1997...." 

SOUTHERN COMMAND SET TO LEAVE PANAMA

 "[A] new base rights agreement with Panama...would better serve US interests and still is preferable to the proposed Multilateral Counter-Drug Center (MCC). However, if the Administration chooses to negotiate a continued US military presence in Panama through the MCC, the following criteria must be met:...

EVEN THE CARTER-TORRIJOS TREATY PERMITS KEEPING PANAMA BASES

"A Protocol in the Permanent Neutrality Treaty of the Panama Canal makes provision for negotiation of a forward presence after 2000...:

"‘Nothing in the treaty shall preclude the Republic of Panama and the US from making, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, any agreement or arrangement between the two countries to facilitate performance at any time after December 31, 1999, of their responsibilities to maintain the regime of neutrality established in the Treaty, including agreements or arrangements for the stationing of any US military forces or the maintenance of defense sites after the date in Panama that Panama and the US may deem necessary or appropriate.’..."

HOWARD AIR FORCE BASE AND RODMAN NAVAL STATION ARE KEY

"The most important US military installation in Panama is Howard AFB, which has a strategic aircraft capable airfield for conducting counter-drug operations and other US military operations. Approximately 55 aircraft, including Aerial Warning and Control System (AWACS) planes, which are used to detect and monitor illegal drug flights, and 30 helicopters are at the runway on a given day. In 1994, the US military spent $4.5 million dollars to repair and improve the all-weather runway.

"Without Howard AFB, the US military would find it extremely difficult to conduct its operations in the region, especially counter-drug operations. Although the US military could still fly AWACS missions to the hemisphere for counter-narcotics efforts, without Howard AFB, the costs of these missions would increase substantially, including increased expenditures for fuel tanker refueling support and landing fees. An increase in costs will lead to a decrease in the amount of flying time available for US policy objectives in the Western hemisphere....

"Two other important facilities located close to Howard AFB are Rodman Naval Station and Fort Kobbe. These three facilities are often referred to as ‘HOROKO.’ Rodman is home of the Navy's Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS). The school offers courses on all aspects of small craft maintenance training, including diesel motor repairs, diesel mechanics, and navigation courses. This maintenance training is critical given that most Latin American forces engaged in counter-drug efforts focus on ‘brown water’ (inland/riverines) operations and hence rely on small craft. Rodman also has facilities for naval special forces...."

 JUNGLE TRAINING CAPABILITY IS UNIQUE

 "An important facility on the Atlantic side is Fort Sherman, home of the Jungle Operations Training Battalion (JOTB). Established in 1951, the 23,000 acres of land serve as a one of a kind training ground for active duty personnel, National Guardsmen, and reservists. The JOTB trains infantry...engineer companies, special operations forces, non DoD agencies, and multinational forces in the conduct of jungle combat operations and survival skills.

"Approximately 8,810 soldiers rotate through Fort Sherman each year for training with most programs running three to four weeks. The JOTB also has a small unit exchange with a number of Latin American countries including Belize and Venezuela where military personnel come to train with US military forces....

"Having lost a jungle training facility in the Philippines, the JOTB is the only US Army site for jungle training; realistically it cannot be duplicated. There are currently two facilities in the United States that provide US military personnel with similiar, but no comparable training. They are: Brigade Task Force rotation to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California (however, it focuses more on open desert terrain), and the Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) Site...at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

"Unlike the other facilities, Fort Sherman has coastal areas, riverines, swamps, rivers, and multi-level jungle canopies that are situated all in one location, allowing for integrated training....Furthermore, as one army officer in Panama said, it never gets cold in Panama, alluding to the tragic situation that occurred in February 1995 when four Army Rangers died of hypothermia in a Florida panhandle swamp during training exercises....

"Creating a comparable Fort Sherman elsewhere (if such a location were to be found) would cost the US Government some $60 million. Given the current budgetary realities, the Army would not spend this money...."

U.S. INTELLIGENCE AND COMMUNICATION CAPABILITIES ARE AT RISK

 "[Galeta Island] is a communication facility that has proven to be important principally for search and rescue operations and intelligence gathering.

"Other significant facilities are Corozal and Fort Clayton....These buildings comprise the main communication hub for collection and distribution of information to all US forces not just in Panama but in the entire region. Fifty personnel operate the communciations facilities 24 hours a day....

"[A]s of now the bases are under operational control of the United States. This is the difference. The bases will belong to Panama on December 31, 1999. The US military will likely encounter problems in getting Panamanian approval/clearance for operations which it wants to pursue, whether it be pursuing a training exercise at Fort Sherman or even getting clearance to land a C-130 aircraft at Howard AFB for an operaton unrelated to counter-drugs efforts. The only admitted scenario SouthCom officials projected as problematic, however, is if the US Government decided to intervene militarily in the region. The region would no longer belong solely to the US military and the US Government would have difficulty pursuing such a mission....

"Since 1979, only 28% of the military buildings (some 1,300 of the 4,700 total buildings) have been turned over to Panama. Of the 28,000 acres of land that have been reverted to Panama (from the total 93,000 acres), 50% of this figure were reverted in the last two years. In the remaining three years, some 70% of the facilities will be reverted to Panama....

"Due to the US military FY 1996 budget, the US military had to give Panama the property no later than September 30, 1996. The Panamanians waited until the very last day possible. The property was reverted on September 30....

"In 1997, the US Government will transfer to Panama Quarry Heights (Sep.-Dec.), Albrook Air Force Base (Oct.), Arraijan Tank Farm (Jan.), Balboa Elementary School, Gorgas Hospital (Dec.), and Currundu Flats (Jul.)."


TIME IS RUNNING OUT ON U.S. MILITARY BASES IN PANAMA

Excerpts from Howard Phillips Issues and Strategy Bulletin of September 15, 1994

 Even though the United States is in no way obliged to terminate its military presence at the Isthmus of Panama until the end of the century, under the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton, steps have already been taken which could prematurely make the American withdrawal a fait accompli, even if a President is elected in 1996 who agrees that the preservation of American military capabilities at the isthmus is a strategic necessity--- especially at a time when the U.S. Navy is being cut virtually in half.

 During my "MISSION TO PANAMA", conducted under the auspices of The Conservative Caucus Foundation this past April (5-10) in cooperation with Congressman Phil Crane (R-IL), we secured from the U.S. Defense Department's Center for Treaty Implementation a specific delineation of the facilities still in American possession, and the current timetable for their closedown and surrender.

U.S. MILITARY READY TO PRESERVE U.S. BASES IF PRESIDENT OR CONGRESS ACT

In a May 27 letter to Congressman Crane, Col. Richard M. O'Connor, who directs the Center for Treaty Implementation of the U.S. Southern Command in Panama, said:

 "The PCTIP [Panama Canal Treaty Implementation Plan] is a dynamic and flexible plan. It is drafted based on assumptions and missions that may change, resulting in appropriate modifications to the plan."

 This is code language for the fact that it is not too late for us to persuade our government to reverse course.

 The key facts in the Treaty Implementation Plan are these:

  1. Under the Panama Canal Treaties, which were signed on September 7, 1977, ratified by the U.S. Senate in April, 1978, and entered into force on October 1, 1979, the U.S. was "granted rights necessary to operate and defend Canal, including use of territory for stationing and training U.S. forces".

  2. The United States and the government of Panama are "responsible in perpetuity for neutrality of Canal".

  3. Moreover, the U.S. and Panama "can agree to stationing US forces in Panama after 1999".

Since 1979, the U.S. government has (although it was not obliged to do so) turned over to Panama 405 buildings, including 113 housing units, 16,000 acres of land, plus associated roads, utility systems, fencing, etc. Even after the turnovers, there remain in Panama under U.S. Defense Department control 4,287 buildings and 77,000 acres of land. The U.S. military presence in Panama has numbered some 10,000. In addition, there have been 8,000 Defense Department civilian employees, including about 3,000 Americans and 5,000 Panamanians.

 The U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), based in Panama, defines its mission as follows:

Official SOUTHCOM objectives also include:

STATE DEPARTMENT USES U.S. MILITARY TO PROMOTE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM

 Bear in mind that these are the official objectives laid down during the Bush Administration. They are not, in all cases, objectives to which I would subscribe or which I would advocate. For example, it is not the Constitutional prerogative of the government of the United States to interfere in the domestic politics of other nations, except to the degree that such intervention is designed to thwart proximate threats to the vital security interests of the United States. We certainly have no right to promote socialism in the name of "equitable economic growth".

 Anticipated post-1995 Panama-base missions include, in the view of SOUTHCOM, providing a theater-forward staging area for U.S. military operations, preparation to receive augmentation forces, and maintaining a high quality of life for U.S. forces in the Southern Command.

 SOUTHCOM is anticipating that many activities within its purview will henceforth be shifted to the continental United States, and that a Panamanian national police force will be "mature" enough to allow a reduced U.S. presence.

 It is also intended that public access to the Atlantic side of the former U.S. Canal Zone will soon be restricted. SOUTHCOM asserts that "accompanied tours will be permitted only on Pacific side".

 One of the reasons why public opinion surveys in Panama have demonstrated overwhelming support for a continued U.S. military presence in the former Canal Zone is because of an estimated favorable impact of some $255 million per year on the Panamanian economy. In Fiscal Year 1992, that was 4.2% of Panama's $6.03 billion gross national product. The U.S. presence provided an estimated $86.3 million in salaries to Panamanian employees, $84.5 million in local purchases of goods and services, $21.2 million in construction and repair contracts, and $63 million in personal expenditures. By 1999, if the U.S. withdrawal proceeds as scheduled, our favorable impact on the Panamanian economy will be closer to $50 million per year than $250 million. The Panamanians will have lost, by then, four-fifths of the benefit of our presence.

The official U.S. withdrawal timetable anticipates that:

During the 1994-1995 Fiscal Year, personnel will be reduced by 3,000-4,000 military, and about 3,000 family members. The 193rd Infantry Brigade will depart, and our facilities will close at Fort Amador, Curundu Flats, Fort Espinar, Fort Davis, and Cristobal High School.

Before 1999, other facilities to be closed down will include, on the Atlantic side of the Canal, Coco Solo, Fort Davis, Fort Espinar and Margarita, and Fort Sherman. On the Pacific side, we are scheduled to surrender the Albrook Air Force Station (with its aircraft hangars and helicopter operations), Fort Amador, the Ancon-Gorgas Hospital, Balboa (including the Panama Canal College, with 2,220 students), Quarry Heights (with its underground storage tunnel and its extraordinary monitoring capabilities), Fort Clayton, Corozal, Diablo Heights, Curundu, Cocoli (a 281-acre Marine Corps barracks), the Rodman Naval Station (a deep draft port facility with 4,000 free berth of pier space), the 819 acre Farfan area, the Howard Air Force Base (5,282 acres, including all weather jet aircraft international airport with an 8,500-foot runway), and Fort Kobbe (including its ammunition storage facility).

As described in HPISB#493, these assets have significant value:

Galeta Island -- A U.S. armed forces electronic communications control and command center which collects intelligence and deals with the breaking, reception, interception and interference of codes. The geological magnetic conditions in this area facilitate electronic communications. It is the only place in the world where it is possible to transmit on the low frequency band at 300 kHz, at a depth of 80 feet, to both oceans. This makes communication possible with and between nuclear and conventional submarines in both oceans.

 Howard Air Base -- This is the largest U.S. air force base in the southern hemisphere, south of the Mexican border. It can receive and harbor all airborne strategic systems, nuclear and conventional, including both existing U.S. aircraft and those in the development stages. Its logistical infrastructure is capable of supporting lengthy airborne operations. All air operations such as command, control, supply and provisions carried out by the United States in the southern hemisphere are controlled from this base.

 Fort Sherman -- This is the most important Jungle Training Center the United States has, and even U.S. astronauts are trained here. This is where U.S. forces which are to be stationed in the jungle are trained in low intensity warfare. Since Fort Sherman is near the Atlantic coast, a supporting naval base for the U.S. Navy could be annexed.

 Quarry Heights Military Base -- This area--called Balboa--is enclosed by a wire-net fence that cuts Panama in two across the width of the Isthmus. The headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), one of the eight strategic commands the U.S. has set up around the world, is located here adjacent to the capital of the country. All military and intelligence activities on the continent are controlled from its offices, and it is responsible for the operation of the U.S. Military Program for Latin America (PAN). SOUTHCOM has been in charge of directing U.S. military activities in Grenada (1983), Honduras, El Salvador, and elsewhere. Source: Generation Magazine

 The importance of the Panama Canal to U.S. security has been spelled out repeatedly by The Conservative Caucus. The principal reasons here follow:

  1. At a time when the U.S. Navy is being cut virtually in half (from nearly 600 ships in the 1980s to an estimated 327 later in this decade), our ability to achieve rapid transit between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans during time of war is more important than ever.
  2. Galeta Island in Panama gives the United States the unique capability to remain in contact with U.S. vessels in both oceans and to conduct surveillance of suspected military activity by the vessels of other nations.
  3. America's ability to project power in the air, at sea, and on land throughout the Western Hemisphere is rooted in the presence of the Southern Command at the Isthmus of Panama.
  4. Surveillance of drug trafficking out of Colombia (which is adjacent to Panama) is greatly abetted by the presence of U.S. bases at the isthmus.
  5. A single terrorist ramming a vessel into the dam at Gatun Lake can succeed in closing the Canal for as long as two years.
  6. The Jungle Operations Training Base trains 7,800 of our military personnel each year. If closed, this unique topographical and climatological asset cannot be replaced.

PASTOR CONFIRMATION AFFORDS OPPORTUNITY TO FOCUS ON BASE ISSUE

 This is a crucial time. Very soon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take final action on President Clinton's nomination of Robert Pastor to be Ambassador to Panama. In the context of Senate deliberations on this appointment, we have a unique opportunity to make the case for preservation of U.S. base rights in Panama.

AMERICANS AND PANAMANIANS WANT U.S. BASES TO STAY

 Upon my return from Panama this past April, I issued the following media release setting out the extent of popular support for our continued presence based on surveys taken in Panama, and a survey of our own commissioned in March by The Conservative Caucus Foundation.

 "A scientific survey of public opinion conducted nationwide among 1,000 registered voters during March, 1994 by Marketing Research Institute of Pensacola, Florida suggests that preservation of U.S. military bases in Panama could be a major issue in the 1994 elections.

 "According to the MRI findings, ‘By a margin of almost 3 to 1, United States voters favored maintaining U.S. bases in Panama.’ 65.5% agreed that ‘if Panama is willing...the United States should maintain military bases in Panama.’ Only 23.6% disagreed, and 10.9% were uncertain."

 BASE ISSUE CAN BE EXPLOITED BY 1994 SENATE CANDIDATES

 "59.6% of those interviewed indicated that ‘In an election for U.S. Senate’ they would be ‘more likely to vote for...a candidate who favors keeping U.S. bases in Panama.’

 "For 19.5% of those interviewed, Panama Canal issues were ‘more important than other issues.’"

 PRESIDENT BALLADARES IS WILLING TO TALK

 From meetings with then Panamanian President Guillermo Endara and his successor, Ernesto Perez Balladares, it became clear to me that the Panamanian government will respond to U.S. leadership on this issue. Endara had this to say:

 "During my term of government, there has been much opinion in favor of this [maintaining U.S. bases in Panama]. It is public, but I also have private polls saying that a very high percentage of Panamanians want the continued presence of the United States after the year 2000. They feel that the presence of the United States here is healthy, that the United States is a good partner, that the United States brings in good money, brings good jobs, and, like I said, there is a high percentage of opinion."

 President Balladares, Endara's successor, who was a close friend of the late Panamanian dictator, Omar Torrijos, and an architect of the Carter/Torrijos Panama Canal treaties, is significantly less eager for U.S. bases in Panama to be maintained. Nonetheless, even he indicated that everything is negotiable. Here are excerpts of our conversations with him:

 "...we feel that, should there be a renewed interest, for whatever reason, of maintaining a base or a military presence in Panama, it should be clearly stated. We would be willing, in my case particularly, to sit down and talk about it---the problem of reviewing the current status.

 "We have mutual foes. We have mutual enemies. The advance of international Communism is no longer a problem, it seems, but we do have an enemy that's even worse in drug trafficking and money laundering."

BUT AMERICA MUST OPEN THE NEGOTIATION

 "....if that means...jungle operations, yes. If that means cooperating to a higher degree...we need to do it....whomever wants to maintain a presence in somebody else's country should state it clearly---it should not be the other way around."

 Even if it is assumed that the Panama Canal treaties are valid (something which I am not prepared to concede), it is possible, by negotiation between the government of the United States and the government of Panama, to assure the perpetual continuation of a U.S. military presence in Panama. All it takes is leadership by the government of the United States.

Such leadership was not forthcoming during the Reagan or Bush administrations. In fact, it was made clear to us by President Endara and others that such top officials as General Colin Powell (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Brent Scowcroft (George Bush's National Security Advisor) had communicated a strong determination for the U.S. to leave Panama.

YOU AND I MUST SEND THE MESSAGE TO WASHINGTON

All politicians consider popular sentiment and changed circumstances. If enough Americans send a message---not just to Bill Clinton, but to key members of the U.S. House and Senate---that this is an issue about which they care deeply---then we can win the battle.

At the very least, we need to slow down the rate at which U.S. facilities in the former Canal Zone are being closed down, so that our options can be preserved for the future.

IF AMERICA LEAVES, U.N. WILL FILL THE VACUUM

As I pointed out in a recent letter to Conservative Caucus members, the real danger is that the U.S., by its abandonment of the Isthmus of Panama, will create a vacuum which will be filled by forces indifferent to, or hostile to our nation's vital interests---most probably coordinated through the United Nations and its so-called international peace forces.

Since the 1970s, when I led a 50-state tour in opposition to the Panama Canal treaties and coordinated a multi-million dollar campaign to rally public opposition to them, The Conservative Caucus has worked diligently on this issue. We now have another opportunity to turn the tide in our favor. Please help us.

ACTION: CONTACT EVERY CANDIDATE FOR THE U.S. SENATE AND U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM YOUR STATE AND URGE THEM TO TAKE A PUBLIC STAND FOR RESTORING U.S. FORCES TO THE ISTHMUS OF PANAMA.

Ask them also to pledge to support Congressman Phil Crane's House Concurrent Resolution 17, and to call on President Clinton to renegotiate the continued presence of U.S. bases in Panama in perpetuity. Please keep us posted on any success you have on this issue.

Coordinating TCC's activities in the Panama Canal battle is Major General J. Milnor Roberts, USA-Ret., former president of the Reserve Officers Association. Gen. Roberts was among the leading retired military personnel who, in the 1970s, traveled all over America to prevent the Canal treaty surrender. He can be contacted c/o The Conservative Caucus, 450 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, Virginia 22180.

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