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that we will keep the troops under your command there, and that we will keep our 4,000 trained and skilled personnel there, so we could work out a transition for the year 2000.
We would hope that by the end of the century a different climate might exist in Central America, and one we might contribute to that improved climate through our presence in Panama.
I assume you agree, if we keep our forces in Panama we would have substantially more impact than if we withdrew them and pushed the canal over to Panama?
General MCAULIFFE. There is no question about that. I agree with it entirely.
Mr. HUBBARD. Congressman Wyatt?
Mr. WYATT. Mr. Grove, for my own benefit, what would be the situation at some later point? For example-is there any opportunity at all for Panama to deny the use of the canal to Nicaraguan ships or any other ships?
Also, under what circumstances could that take place?
Mr. GROVE. The only circumstances I could imagine occurring after October 1 when the treaties actually come into effect, and they will come into effect on that day, will amount-would have to occur after the turn of the century, since between now and the end of the century we ourselves are responsible for the operation of the canal and the maintenance of the canal as an open waterway without discrimination to world shipping.
The question that perhaps you are referring to would arise, it seems to me, only after the turn of the century when the canal would have gone to Panama.
But the neutrality treaty would at that time also continue to be in effect, and would have the full force of the treaty. If the Panamanians were at that time, 21 years from now, to deny passage to a Nicaraguan ship, or perhaps the ship of another nation, it seems to me quite evident that they would be in gross violation of a treaty that we had made.
Mr. WYATT. Under the neutrality provision, in essence, we have internationalized the canal; would you say that?
Mr. GROVE. Pardon me?
Mr. WYATT. Was the nature of the treaty that in essence you have internationalized the canal?
Mr. GROVE. Not in the sense in which it was discussed this morning. I do recall the earlier proposal. There was one such proposal considered within the U.S. Government.
It was found that that proposal did not meet our interests well at all, and the present treaty strategy that has led to the treaty that now exists was adopted over any sort of international scheme.
I believe it is certainly correct to say that the canal has been an international waterway since it first opened, and the prospects of its continuing that way are very real indeed.
Mr. WYATT. In regard to the movement of weapons through Panama, would you not assume that at least there is some complicity on the part of the Government of Panama, from what we have been able to see thus far in this hearing, what has been written in the papers, et cetera?
Mr. Grove. No, sir, I am not in a position to make that assumption at all.
I would note, for example, that the Government of Nicaragua had an opportunity 3 days ago in the Organization of American States to present its case about such matters as arms shipments, which indeed it did, and to accuse in a body where such matters are very appropriately discussed, the Government of Panama of that kind of violation had the government itself been involved
Mr. WYATT. That was not done?
Mr. GROVE. That was not done. In fact, I am not being hypothetical. The Panamanian Ambassador who was present asked the Nicaraguan representative, Sevilla-Sacasa, whether the statements he had made in his opening statement were a formal charge against Panama. Sevilla-Sacasa replied that they were not.
Then to be sure he had heard him correctly, the Panamanian asked him the same question once again, and the response was that this is not a formal charge.
I, for one, would have thought that if there were this kind of complicity, that would have been the forum and the moment to bring it out and to make the kind of charges that could have been made.
Mr. WYATT. In your statement, page 8, you say that the subject matter under discussion today, although important, bears no legal or practical relation to that purpose.
You were talking about the implementing legislation. Should an amendment be offered and adopted ultimately to become part ofand this a hypothetical—the implementing legislation, to say that if any shipment of arms to Nicaragua or any other country could be traced directly to the Panamanian Government by complicity or whatever, that payment made under the act would be removed, Do you think that would be a violation of the treaty?
Mr. GROVE. I think it would cause us very serious problems with our relations with Panama. I think they would perceive it as an attempt to seriously change the-
Mr. WYATT: Do you believe it would be a change?
Mr. BAUMAN. I want to take this occasion to say thank you, again, to General McAuliffe for his many courtesies to the members of this committee and to me personally.
I had the pleasure of working with him over the years and sitting through two classified briefings. I wish you could be as frank today as you were in those briefings. I think it would probably be of interest, but no one wants to violate the rules that protect our national security.
I would like to ask you a few questions about the testimony earlier. While I was not here, in reply to a question from the chairman, dealing with the testimony of Colonel Thomas that he had seen a number of intelligence reports implicating the Panama Government in activities either against Nicaragua or of a similar nature as those of the subject of this hearing, you replied that you also had seen similar reports.
Is that correct?
General MCAULIFFE. Sir, my response to that was that I have seen, of course, many, many intelligence reports pertaining to Cuba, Panama, all of the countries of the region. I think a specific aspect of that was whether I had seen reports concerning Panamanian involvement in arms, in sending arms to Nicaragua and Cuban sending of arms to Nicaragua, and I admitted to the latter, but that is to say, on the Cuban side, I have seen many reports about the actions of Cubans to try to send arms and personnel, trained personnel, for operations in Nicaragua.
But concerning Panama, I just simply made the point that whereas Colonel Thomas had used the word "Panama involvement,” as I remembered it, I wanted to distinguish to say that I was also talking about Panama involvement but not necessarily that the government of Panama is involved.
Mr. BAUMAN. Could you tell us, General, whether or not many things happen in Panama in the way of organizations of international brigades or things of that nature, with at least the government's tacit approval, based on your experience?
General MCAULIFFE. As I indicated in my statement, the Government has given-the Panamanian Government, that is-tacit approval, you might say, and certainly support to the formation of that international brigade.
They did provide use of a training base, and as best we can determine from reading among other things the newspaper reports, they gave them food, shelter, and training, and I guess aid and sustenance.
Mr. BAUMAN. Wasn't that brigade formed with assistance from people especially from Cuba for that purpose, to train them?
General McAULIFFE. We are not sure, Mr. Congressman. We know that the brigade has had a lot of private support, money and people, and that this came mostly from within Panama, but not entirely from Panama.
There are some Costa Ricans, Colombians, Venezuelans, who have also contributed either personnel or money toward the formation of such a brigade.
Mr. BAUMAN. You are not sure, but you have heard allegations that Cuban involvement in the training of the so-called international
General MCAULIFFE. We have heard
Mr. BAUMAN. About Hugo Spadafora, a close personnel friend of Royo from long standing?
General MCAULIFFE. I noticed that relationship in the testimony of the Vice President of the Nicaraguan Congress before this committee yesterday. I do not know Mr. Spadafora. I take it that he is the type of individual who appears to enjoy getting involved in causes such as this.
Mr. BAUMAN. The press said he was headed for Zambia after he was done with Nicaragua.
General MCAULIFFE. From what I have learned about the man, that does not really surprise me. I think that is sort of his inclination. I think he is the sort of individual who probably casts an aura of leadership about him.
However, in a military sense I would question his ability, particularly since I learned a few months back that out in the bush someplace he happened to shoot himself in the hand.
Mr. BAUMAN. So let me ask you: The press reported here in the United States in January that attempts were made, and apparently successfully, by the State Department and the military to dissuade General Torrijos from sending Panamanian troops, or an official delegation of military forces, in January or December of this year to assist the Sandinistas.
Can you tell us anything about that? Was there any such attempt made to dissuade them? Was it necessary?
General MCAULIFFE. No, sir, I cannot. I believe that that would have to come through State Department representatives or perhaps the Ambassador on the scene.
Mr. BAUMAN. You have no personal knowledge-you saw the report? General MCAULIFFE. I have, yes. I have seen reports to this
Mr. BAUMAN. Does the State Department have any comment on the accuracy of those reports?
Mr. GROVE. I don't specifically recall those reports, Mr. Congress
When it comes to the movement of troops, I quite honestly do not. That would have been during the mediation process, if it would have been—it would have been in the last month of the mediation.
Mr. BAUMAN. The reports were that the United States had intervened, our Ambassador with the General personally, to dissuade him from assisting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
Mr. GROVE. I do not recall that. Mr. BAUMAN. Do you have knowledge of it? Mr. GROVE. No. Mr. BAUMAN. General, can you tell us anything about the report of an Alyushan jet in northern Panama in the last 10 days with troops?
General MCAULIFFE. No, sir, I really could not. I have also heard and seen indications, you might say, of rumors to this effect, but I am afraid I cannot comment on that here.
Mr. BAUMAN. You heard the testimony this morning or early this afternoon of General Sumner. Do you in general agree with his assessment of the situation as it pertains to General Torrijos' attitude toward the Sandinistas in Nicaragua?
General MCAULIFFE. I would have to say, not entirely, sir.
There is no doubt, as I stated in my opening statement, that Torrijos appears to be dedicated to the removal of Somoza, President Somoza, from Nicaragua. General Sumner refers to a conversation that he had with General Torrijos back in November of 1977 in which Torrijos had indicated rather strongly in his statementin his comment at the time, that he was supportive of the Sandinistas.
It has been my conclusion from talks with General Torrijos and with many other Panamanians that the objective on the part of these Panamanians is not so much supporting the Sandinistas as it
is supporting a group that is dedicated to the removal of Somoza from Nicaragua.
As a matter of fact, if I may state this, as a result of one of our conversations, General Torrijos had indicated very strongly his appreciation for the fact that there are varying shades of views within the Sandinista movement, and some are, as we know, very hard-core Communists, Cuban trained, dedicated Marxists, and there are some elements within the Sandinista group that many would refer to as a little more moderate in their thinking, not Communists and not Marxists.
But the point is that Torrijos has often said to me that he doesn't want a Communist government in Nicaragua any more than any other leader in that region would want that.
But what I think he is trying to do is support what he perceives to be some of the more moderate elements within the Sandinista cause. And getting back to my own basic line of thinking about this, he is doing this as a means of supporting a group that is opposing Somoza and that-if you pardon the rather strained logic—that is what I think Torrijos is after.
And it is somewhat different from the testimony presented here today by General Sumner.
Mr. BAUMAN. I was not aware that General Somoza was such a dedicated anti-Communist. There aren't any other Communists in the Panamanian Government, are there?
General McAULIFFE. There are certainly some sympathizers of the Communist cause in the Panamanian Government.
Mr. HUBBARD. Mr. Hughes?
I appreciate the chairman recognizing me, even though I am not a member of this particular subcommittee.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony. I wasn't here when you testified. I think you did review the status of American troops in the Canal Zone as of October 1.
I wonder if either you or the Secretary can tell us in the event the scenario is a rejection of the implementing treaties, the status of American presence in the Canal Zone should that occur.
General MCAULIFFE. If the implementing legislation should not be passed by the Congress by October 1, then in itself that should not necessarily eliminate our U.S. forces in Panama.
It will cause great inconvenience, and I would have to say, a significant loss in operational effectiveness of my forces if we do not have the implementing legislation to carry out the functional transfers and other operational conditions implicit in the transfer of land and installations to Panama that will take place on October 1.
You see, we will lose portions of two active military bases on October 1, whether there is implementing legislation or not.
Without implementing legislation, I have a problem as to where I put and how I accommodate the military units that are dislocated because of those releases of land to Panama.
That is, I might say, the situation as would affect the support and welfare of the troops.
Concerning the military situation, it would be much more serious. I believe we would be faced with a likely shutdown of the