Balboa, Canal Zone
December 9, 1959
We Americans living on the Canal Zone do not feel that the average U.S.
taxpayer is aware of the real story on the Panama situation or realizes what is at
stake. Therefore, we believe the best way to get this story to them iS through you
who represent them in Congress.
It appears that the United States is going to pay off in one of the most
fantastic and bizarre blackmail plots ever perpetrated. The basis for this plot t s our State Department's: consistent policy of appeasement and its mortal fear that a
policy of firmness would be propagandized to the world as aggression.
To cover all the background of U.S.-Panama relations would be voluminous.
But the Treaty under which the Canal was constructed at an investment of more than
$1 billion is the foundation. Under the treaty, Panama granted all rights in the
Zone to the United States as if the United States were sovereign to the entire
exclusion of the exercise of any sovereign rights by Panama. Thus, the U.S. has
exercised jurisdiction and the U.S. flag has flown alone for 50 years, Peacefully negotiated amendments to the treaty, conceding financial advantages to Panama, have
been concluded in the interim.
Panama is controlled financially and politically by no more than fifty
families (the oligarchy). The gist of the political game is strictly that to the winner of government control belongs the spoils unlimited grt and corruption.
One four-year term, in. a key office is enough to set a man up for life. But these
fifty families never get enough although all are millionaires- in their own rights
through control of the country's industry.. There is a constant struggle between them for political power the key to more money. There has never been a strong
government and the "outs" are continuously striving to overthrow the "ins".
It was an "out" Aquilino Boyd who plotted the incident of November 3.
For months he had been arousing the people, particularly the students, on the theme
That Panama is sovereign over the Canal ZOne. Ee did not generate much public support, however, it being recognized as a political scheme.
His clever plot was to deliberately instigate an incident with the United Sstates -he advertized his planned march to the Canal Zone months in advance. He wanted trouble. He succeeded. The choice of the Canal Zone Government was to
permit Boyd's lawless mob of thugs and hoodlum to Overrun the Zone or to stop the mob with force. i!l
~~Why did the Canal Zone have to use the ... .U.S.,rm to protect livesJ~ and
property? This was because of the twist which foiled Boyd's plans. Boyd calculated
that the Panamanian -Guardia Nacional would attempt to quell the mob and thus the Panama Government would be put in the position of fighting its own people and protecting the Americans. For this, the present Panamanian Government was to be overthrown. But the Government, weak and shaky, did not fall into the Boyd trap. The Guardia Nacional was not called out and the incident of November 3 developed as it did, with the Americans being forced to defend the Zone and the U.S. Embassy being attacked and the flag desecrated.
The "oligarchy" in Panama immediately saw $$ signs aplenty from Boyd's frustrated ambitions. They also own the newspapers and radio stations. An unbelievable avalanche of anti-UoS. propaganda continued for days on the Panamanian radios and in its press. Outright Lies horrible cartoons distotted reports charges of employment discrimination~ treaty violations all that would put Pravda to shame were ground out continuously. All of this was to whip up a violent solid front anti -American hatred among the populace. The purpose to lay a foundation for blackmail in demanding huge concessions from the United States. These concessions would be in the form of (I) granting monopoly rights, at their price, to the "ol.garchy" for supplies required by the Canal Zone and its employees, (2) outright monetary payments, and (3) conceding to Panama sovereign rights in the Canal Zone. The Panamanian Government climbed right on the bandwagon and stole the leadership right away from Boyd and his liq ue who had instigated it all.
This terrific denunciation of the U.S., calls for another march on the
Canal Zone, abuse against the Governor, etc..,, continued for days. The U.S. lowered itself by sending Under Secretary of State Merchant to discuss matters. He announced that the U.S. would grant no concessions until "normalcy" was restored and obtained a promise that the Panama Government would protect American lives and property. This
was not quite the result the "oligarchy" anticipated,, Also, business was hurting because no Americans were buying anything in the Panama stores. Immediately the radio and press changed conciliation, not violence, became the word.
But it was too late to prevent further violence. For days the populace
had been bombarded with cries to rise to the call of their natio A mass "sovereignty" demonstration had been set for November 28th. The Communists, Cubans, and 'abblerousers were not going to lose such a golden opportunity, Again, on November 28, a mob of hoodlums marched, After several U.,S. sodeshdbe Lnue ytrw rocks-and glass and had taken all the abuse that any human could be expected to take, the U.S., commander advised the Guardia Nacional that if they couldn't break up the dem-- n4 o a --0- -o r thmevs he wa gon to orde hi trop to-. ope fire.- 0-a--_ __--- a Almost A
concessions to the "oligarchy", and most likely will let the Panamanian flag fly.
if that ever happens, the U.S. is doomed in its control of the Panama Canal fo .the
flag stands for sovereignty and sovereignty means jurisdiction.
The moral is.- Be as nasty to the United States as you can and the State
Department" wil pay you off to be quiet. When you want more just-be-nasty again.
Panamanian demagogues have learned this presumably their kind all over the woTId
Irony -.To fan up the poor average Panamanian the "oligarchy" charged
-discrimination in employment and wages in the Canal Zone. Last week the timing
a coincidence the Panamantan Congress on its last day in session passed a
40 cents (repeat, 40) an hour minimum wage law. The same people who cauSed all
the furor against the U.S. have denounced this as unconstitutional, say that it
will ruin the country, and are fighting it with all their power. The current
Government had to do some little something for the people because elections come !up in about three months.
That's the story in a nutshell We Americans here in the Canal Zone aredisillusioned and discouraged. The State Department's attitude is beyond our comprehension. If the United States capitulates to Panama for this political blackmaill
it will forfeit all right to respect from any nation in the world. The United ..States will certainly have become such a laughing stock in Panama that it will be
unbearably embarrassing to be an American in the Canal Zone.
Canal Zone Committee
for UoS. Retention of
the Panama Canal'