255. Letter From President Carter to President Royo1

Dear Mr. President:

The Panama Canal Treaties have now been in force for three months, since October 1, 1979. As I wrote you a few days before that historic date, my country is as committed to making those Treaties work as it was to building the Canal.2

I have been well pleased these past three months by the manner in which our representatives have addressed the various aspects of our new relationship, and I am confident that we will continue to enjoy the mutual benefits of constructive cooperation.

Like you, I am distressed that it has not yet been possible for the Board of Directors of the Panama/Canal Commission to take up their responsibilities. As you know, our Congress laid down some very specific requirements that must be met in selecting the U.S. members of the board. These requirements, as well as the timing of the enactment of the implementing legislation for the Canal Treaties, have resulted in an unfortunate but unavoidable delay in appointing the U.S. board members. I am happy to inform you, however, that the administrative processes required by our laws are nearing completion and that I am submitting today the names of my nominees for the U.S. positions to our Senate for its advice and consent.3 At that moment I will of course publicly announce the names of the Panamanian candidates for the board.

You may be certain that the American members of the board will be informed, interested and competent, and that they will serve faithfully in pursuit of efficient Canal operations.

As soon as the Senate has acted, I expect that the board will hold its initial meeting and begin the deliberations with which it is entrusted under the Panama Canal Treaty. Meanwhile, I have asked all officials concerned with Canal activities to undertake now whatever preparatory steps may be possible within the limits of the current procedural situation.

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You and I and our officials have done much to ensure that the new arrangements for the Panama Canal—under the jurisdiction of your Government—have been put into effect in an atmosphere of trust and businesslike cooperation. I am certain that as we put the final elements of the Treaty structure into place, our two countries can build upon this firm foundation.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 15, Panama: President Aristides Royo, 1–11/80. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 245.
  3. For the text of Carter’s January 7 announcement, see Public Papers: Carter, 1980–1981, Book I, pp. 32–34.