239. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to Vice President Mondale 1


  • Request that You Head the U.S. Delegation to Ceremonies Initiating the Panama Canal Treaty System, October 1, 1979

The Panama Canal Treaty, and the Neutrality Treaty, will come into force on October 1 next. The Panamanian Government is planning a ceremonial entry into the Canal Zone, centering on Ancon Hill and other landmarks to be turned back to Panamanian control.

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Panama desires high-level U.S. participation in the October 1 observance. President Royo, by letter of July 31,2 invited The President and Mrs. Carter to attend the ceremonies. From our standpoint, high-level participation is important.

—It will demonstrate that what is happening is not a forced U.S. withdrawal, but the beginning of a new partnership in running the Canal.

—It will help to dispel the malaise created by the lengthy process of implementing treaty legislation.

—It will ease the wrenching changes in functions and attitudes required by the Treaty.

—It will serve to reassure American Canal employees that the U.S. is not abandoning them.

—And it will signalize to the entire Hemisphere and the world at large that the United States has faithfully complied with the treaty agreements.

Both the Panamanians and we ourselves have reached the conclusion that it would be appropriate for you to lead the American delegation to the October 1 ceremonies. Your presence and your remarks would give the new Panama Canal Commission, and the Treaty, the kind of send-off they ought to have.

We understand that the Presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela will attend the ceremonies, as well as the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Spain.


That you agree to lead the United States delegation to the ceremonies marking the coming into force of the Panama Treaties of 1977, on Monday, October 1, 1979.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P790149–0627. Confidential. Drafted by Haahr on August 13. H, L, S/P, and S/PTA concurred.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Mondale did not indicate his approval or disapproval of the recommendation. On an August 16 memorandum from Pastor to Brzezinski, Aaron disapproved of Mondale leading the U.S. delegation to the Panama Canal ceremonies, and wrote: “Cy Vance should do it or maybe the negotiators Bunker + you know who.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 15, Panama: President Aristides Royo) Mondale led the U.S. delegation for the ceremonies. See Document 247.