194. Telegram From the Embassy in Panama to the Department of State1

6903. Subject: Joint Review Group Visit: Report No. 2.

1. Popper, Dolvin and Chargé Dikeos visited General Torrijos at Farallon September 20. GOP Implementation Administrator Fabrega and Rory Gonzalez were also present. In discursive session lasting almost two hours, we reviewed for Torrijos state of developments [Page 473] re treaty implementation in each country. General tone was one of satisfaction with progress thus far, but realization that the hardest implementation problems still lay ahead.

2. Among points stressed were the following:

A. Importance of restraint in public utterances, and professed determination to settle problems privately.

B. Torrijos view that when GOP is represented on Canal Commission, it will make innovative proposals such as incentive pay for pilots to prevent ship backlogs (we pointed out that pilot performance was not the problem).

C. Continued pressure by Panama for help to GOP through advance preparations for treaty day transfers (we explained care we must take to avoid “pre-implementation”).

D. Necessarily slow progress in our legislative procedure, and sensitivity of our Congress to all developments in Panama.

E. Our encouragement at continuing momentum of democratization process in Panama.

F. Return to theme that U.S. should permit Panama to start construction of Coco Solo container port before treaty comes into force (we replied that planning steps already permitted will use up much of intervening time).

G. Torrijos’s evident feeling that turning over houses to Panamanians to use freely as occupants will be politically important in convincing Panamanian people that a new era has really begun for them.

H. Panamanian concern that any closed down or abandoned items be either turned over to GOP for Panamanian use or maintained intact by GOP guards or joint watchmen, if necessary, to prevent vandalism or deterioration; Coco Solo school was cited in this connection.

I. Determination of Torrijos expressed to help combat deforestation (his appreciation of problem appears quite imprecise).

3. We raised question of Panamanian debts to U.S., in context of upcoming treaty implementation debate. (We also did so September 19 in discussion with Foreign Minister.)2 Torrijos expressed understanding of advantage of movement on this subject and instructed that Goodin (Vice Minister of Planning) and Perez Valladares (Ministry of [Page 474] Finance) should negotiate for Panama. (We have asked Embassy to follow up.)

4. Torrijos wants Panama National Assembly to approve prisoner exchange treaty before it adjourns October 11. Embassy will work with Foreign Ministry Legal Adviser Carlos Lopez Guevara to complete agreement on prisoners and cemeteries soonest.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780386–0419. Limited Official Use; Priority; Stadis.
  2. In telegram 6872 from Panama City, September 20, the Embassy reported that the Joint Review Group headed by Dolvin and Popper called on Gonzalez Revilla. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780384–0507). In a September 25 memorandum to Brown, Alexander, Jones, and McGiffert, Dolvin provided a detailed report of the United States-Panama Joint Review Group’s September 18–22 visit. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC: 330–81–0202, Panama 821 (May-Sept 1978))