275. Memorandum From the Department of Defense Representative for Panama Canal Treaty Affairs (Dolvin) to Multiple Recipients1


  • Panama Canal Treaty Implementation Activities—Consultative Committee Meeting

(C) The second meeting of the policy level Consultative Committee was held in Panama on 18–19 November 1980. Participants for Panama were Minister of Finance and Treasury Dr. Ernesto Perez Balladares, Mr. Jose Maria Cabrera, and Dr. Resires Vargas. Participants for the United States were Ambassador Ambler H. Moss, Jr., Ambassador David H. Popper, and Lt. General (retired) Welborn G. Dolvin. Additional attendees included Panamanian Ambassador to the United Nations Illueca, Panama Canal Commission (PCC) Administrator McAuliffe and Deputy Administrator Manfredo. (Illueca’s presence and active participation at all sessions would seem to confirm reports that GOP might use its newly-won Security Council seat2 to air future grievances concerning Treaty implementation). Agenda discussions covered a wide variety of Panama Canal policy issues.

The primary focus of policy debate centered on Panamanian objections3 to P.L. 96–70. It is clear from our discussions that the GOP is conducting a major campaign against the Panama Canal Act with the objective of either eliminating the law or influencing the Administration to submit widespread changes during the review process currently underway.4 Panama accepted a U.S. proposal to form a legal subcommittee to review issues raised regarding the consistency of P.L. 96–70 with the Canal Treaty. We hope to use this mechanism to identify and prioritize the areas of disagreement and recommend procedures or other steps the two governments might take to settle this problem. [Page 644] Although some of Panama’s objections are consistent with our original recommendations to the Congress, many key GOP concerns are incompatible with our mandate under the Treaty.

Once again, the GOP representatives were not prepared to discuss updating the 1970 Sea Level Canal Study.5 Instead, they concentrated on PCC wage and personnel issues currently being addressed by the PCC Board. We made it clear to the Panamanians that issues being handled by the Board were not the proper responsibility of the6 Committee until such issues were raised to the governmental level. The remainder of the agenda topics consisted of a series of information briefings on canal operations and organization.

The next meeting will be held in three or four months.

Welborn G. Dolvin Lieutenant General, USA (Ret)
Department of Defense Representative for Panama Canal Treaty Affairs
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC: 330–82–0217–B, Panama 1980. Confidential. A stamped notation reads: “Nov 25 1980 Dep Sec Has Seen.” A different stamped notation reads: “24 Nov 1980 Office of the Secretary of Defense.” Sent to Duncan, Alexander, Jones, and McGiffert.
  2. Panama was elected to the U.N. Security Council on November 13, 1980.
  3. An unknown hand inserted an asterisk here.
  4. In an October 17 memorandum to Claytor, Alexander, Jones, and McGiffert, Dolvin reported that Royo and the Government of Panama were continuing public criticism of the treaty implementing legislation and that Royo had severely attacked it at his formal address to the opening session of the Panamanian National Assembly on October 11. (National Archives, RG 218, Records of David C. Jones, Box 47, 820—Panama 3JC/78–26 Nov 80)
  5. See footnote 4, Document 76.
  6. An unknown hand placed an asterisk and wrote under this sentence: “See attached paper (1 Feb 80) on objections.” The paper is attached but not printed.