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Notes on the US and the Panama Canal

1 Panama Canal

A. long interest in the construction of an interoceanic canal

B. US-New Granada Treaty (1846) giving the US intervention rights

C. Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850 with British

D. First Hay-Paunceforte Treaty (1901)

E. Second Hay-Paunceforte Treaty (February 22, 1902)

F. Spooner Amendment to Isthmian Canal Act (June 28, 1902)

G. Hay-Herrán Treaty (March 17,1903)

H. Panamanian Revolution (November 3, 1903)

I. US-Colombian, US-Panamanian Relations since 1903

I. Bryan-Chamorro Treaty with Nicaragua (1914) negotiated to give the US canal rights

2. US-Colombia:

A. Thomson-Urrutía Treaty of 1914. April 1914 convention US expressed "sincere regret" and agreed to pay indemnity of $25 million but it not ratified because of the popularity of President Theodore Roosevelt.

B. In 1921, the US paid an indemnity without an apology. Oil had been discovered in Colombia.

C. Taft Agreements (1904) adjusted minor grievances, until 1924

D. 1936 treaty increased the annuity to $430,000 and changed guarantee of Panamanian independence into consultation for mutual defense

E. In 1955, the annuity was raised to $1,930,000 and Panamanians given employment and commercial equality in Zone, boundary adjustments, and the US relinquished monopoly over railroad.

3. US-Panamanian Problems until 1978

A. Problems have flared at specific points in time. One during the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson when high school students objected to sole use of US flag in the Panama Canal Zone.

B. US-Panamanian governments had agreed to following principles as of December, 1975:

1. Panama will grant to the United States rights, facilities, and lands necessary to continue operating and defending the canal.

2. US will return to Panama jurisdiction over its territory and arrange for Panama's participation, over time in the canal's operation and defense.

3. The next treaty to be for fixed time, will provide for any expansion of canal capacity as might be needed, and Panama will got more equitable share of benefits

4. Points to note:

A. The Canal acquisition provided the final impetus at least, to turning the Caribbean into an American lake. Thus, the US intervened in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti to insure that European governments would not intervene and that these governments would be under US control. They became protectorates, just as Cuba was a US protectorate. The US also intervened in Mexico and purchased the Danish West Indies.

B. The British acquiesced in this new role of the US by withdrawing their fleet from the West Indies.

C. Taft, at least, fostered the use of US private investment and private loans to Latin American, Caribbean nations to encourage US control because these were strategic areas for US. In the case of Nicaragua, the US government blatantly backed US bankers as opposed to British bankers.

D. Although Wilson, in a Mobile speech, promised that the US would change policy, there was not much difference except that Wilsonian intervention was more thorough and lengthy

E. Wilson engaged in "moral diplomacy," seeking to project his moral values on Latin America.

F. The strategic interest seems to be the overriding factor in US intervention. Although US foreign investment and US loans to these areas increased, these do not seem to be the causes of intervention but the results. How could the US allow any other group to do the financing if the US goal was US security?

G. Teddy Roosevelt changed his policy towards European intervention. In the case of the Venezuela debt controversy of 1902-03, he said that European nations had the right to spank defaulters. But in 1903, the US acquired Canal rights, which changed the picture. Further, the Hague court decision of 1904 meant that foreign intervention was encouraged. Once a power intervened, it might not leave and the Canal, in US eyes, would be threatened. Thus Roosevelt made his famous December, 1904 speech to Congress about chronic wrong-doing would cause the US to intervene to prevent European powers from intervening; this was the Roosevelt Corollary. The US assumes role of international policeman in the Circum-Caribbean region.