Food For Thought
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Panama Canal Treaty
Financial and Political Genocide of America
September 7th, 1999
by columnist
David Lawrence Dewey

"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
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This coming December 31st, 1999 will mark the most expensive giveaway that the American taxpayer has ever footed the bill on. The handover which gives free and clear title of the Panama Canal to the government of Panama was pushed through during the Carter administration in the late 1970's. Americans should be outraged at this treaty and here is why.

There were three key issues expressed during political debates by Congressional leaders in Congress on the Panama Canal, but, none involving the amount of money the United States has spent since building the canal in 1903.

The political maneuvers of leading Congressional figures during the debates to ratify the treaty managed to keep this real issue hidden from the American taxpayer as they normally do.

Informational statistics listed in the U.S. Department of Historical Statistics list the expenditures that the American taxpayer has been hit with since the building of the canal. The amounts are shocking and staggering. This is a summary of those statistics.

In 1903, the U.S., i.e. the American taxpayer paid ten million dollars to the Panama government for the land acquired in building the canal. This was suppose to be clear purchase and title to this land forever. In today's spending dollars, that ten million is the equivalent to 100 million dollars. Keep in mind these today dollars terms because this is suppose to be an "asset" of the United States.

The U.S., i.e. the American taxpayer also paid for the construction costs of the canal from 1898 to 1921 to the tune of 380 million dollars. Today's term in dollars, over 2 trillion dollars. This is in addition to purchasing the land, mostly from political figure heads in power within the Panama government at the time.

In addition, from 1903 to 1936, the United States still had to pay $250,000 dollars annually in the form of an annuity to the Panama government. Today's dollars, over 5 million a year. In 1937, this amount was increased to $430,000 dollars annually. Today's dollars, over 10 million a year. Then again, in 1965, this amount was increased to 2 million, three hundred thousand annually. Todays' dollars, over 18 million a year. Think the buck stopped here?

In addition to the amounts previously listed, the U.S. had to pay royalties to Panama on the ships, all ships regardless of country of origin that passed through the canal. Another words, the U.S. hardly kept any of the revenue derived from ships passing through the canal. And it gets even worse.

From 1942, to 1990, the U.S. spent over $201 million and 940 thousand dollars for the building of 134 airfields. Yes, 134 airfields. No wonder Panama became the drug flyin capital of the world under Noreiga. They had the airfields to do it with and we paid for it. How do you like that irony. And this does not include the nine military bases the U.S. has built over the years. These figures have been hidden from public scrutiny. By the way, the Panama governments is getting all these bases also in the deal, at American taxpayer expense.

Overall these annuities, purchase of the land, cost of building the canal and airfields, royalty payments have amounted to over 18 billion and 424 million dollars that the American taxpayer has been stuck with on the Panama Canal. And the U.S. is giving it back free to the Panama government? What's wrong with this picture? In todays' dollars, this amount would be approximately over 6 trillion dollars if you adjust and count this as a piece of real estate, an "asset" that the U.S., i.e. American taxpayer invested in. The canal collects over $650 million a year in toll revenues, which the Panama mostly keeps. Why did our elected politicians give away such an important financial asset? A good question for all of us to ask our elected representatives in Washington.

What is sad about this situation is that many American were writing their elected officials in Washington not to give the canal away. Senate House Majority Leader, Republican Howard H. Baker back then stated in a 1978 press conference, "I am operating amidst a lot of political danger," despite the the fact that while he attended a Tennessee footbal game, nearly 20,000 of his constituents held up signs displaying, "Keep the Canal", a showing of their outcries against ratifying and giving the canal away. Even after this massive showing, in a press conference a few days later, he was asked again. His answer, "I have not made up my mind yet." Keep in mind that at the time Senator Baker was preparing his campaign machinery to reecive his party's presidential nomination. Any time the press asked questions about whether Panama was going to pay back the amount the U.S., i.e. the American taxpayer had paid in building the canal and other expenditures, not a single American politician would answer that question. It was as if they had all had suddenly become deaf. Why is is that politicians for some reason develop this loss of hearing when real issues are at hand?

The most disturbing recent news is this. In 1997, the Panama government signed an exclusive contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd to run the two major port entrances to the canal. You would think that by the name of the company that it sounds like an American company. Wrong! American owned Bechtel lost out to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.. Who is Hutchison Whampoa Ltd? It is a China based company. Many say it is actually a front for the People's Liberation Army of China. Yes, communist China. This means that U.S. naval ships could be at the mercy of a communist controlled China company. Our ships could even be denied passage if things become "hot" between China and the U.S. This puts the U.S. in a military disadvantage in the South Pacific if naval ships are denied passage through the canal. There are some that do not believe that Hutchison which is also a publicity held firm, is an arm of the PLA. However, it manages 19 ports in Asia, Europe and the Americas. However, Japan will not let Hutchison into their country. What is it that Japan knows that we don't, or I should say are ignoring and for what reasons? Was this a bargaining chip that our government used with China for some reason?

Panama's economy is over 8% dependent on the canal revenue. What is feared is that tolls for ships passing through the canal will skyrocket. This will set off an inflation curve around the world. Higher tolls to ship goods through the canal only means higher prices for consumers. Again, the American taxpayer will be stuck paying the bill again. Presently, the canal collects over $650 million a year in toll revenues, an average of $34,000 per ship. It is feared that this could double or quadruple. Panama is cashed starved and Hutchison is getting a bigger piece of the revenue versus what the U.S. got for running the canal which was almost zero. Additional worries are Panama's economy. Unemployment in Panama is running over 13%. Columbian insurgency and rebels has spilled into Panama. Panama has no army of its' own. It has a small 13,000 police force and that is it. No match for Columbian rebels. And the newly elected President, Mireya Moscoso's has a uphill battle. She is faced with these problems, yet has hardly any support from inside the government. By the way, the name of the main gate as they call it is The Gatum Watergate. Does this sound familar? Anyone know the translation of "gatum"?

Once again, the American taxpayer have been lied to and manipulated into believing what Washington only wants Americans to hear. Those are the facts. How many times are Americans going to sit idly back and let this happen to them? When will American make politicians be accountable and present all the truths? And most importantly, insure that elected officials are truly doing what Americans want? Wake up America. You've just been given the shaft again by your own government to the tune of 6 trillion dollars. Hello, anyone out there listening? This could have paid off the U.S. National Debt of $5.4 trillion dollars if the canal had been "sold" back to Panama as a U.S. Government "Asset". A corporation that would have been owned by various governments could have financed the deal, paying back the U.S. since the Panama government couldn't buy it back.

When is America going to stop "paying" for every governments development? Isn't is time for Americans to start becoming more politically active and stop this sort of madness? Is the American taxpayer going to keep letting politicians "give" America away? How many Americans knew of these facts and hopefully will care enough to stop these sort of giveaways in the future by the government? It's your dollar America! And it's up to you, the American taxpayer and voter!
Be wise on who you vote for next time by asking those running for office these simple questions. Isn't it time?

If you would like to become involved stopping this transfer and in repealing the Carter - Torrijos treaty, then visit this site of members of the Independent American Party for a proposed bill to reverse this treaty. I ask my readers to send a copy of this proposed bill to their elected officials asking them to sponsor or co-sponor the bill. Tell them this will make a difference on how you vote in the upcoming elections in 2000 on how they react to your request for their intervention in this grave matter. The site is:
If you do not know who your Senators or Congressmen are, this visit these pages on my site you acquire the email address of your Senators or Congressmen. Act today before it is too late!

~ David Lawrence Dewey ~

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