END OF ERA -- Panama Canal Transfer Ceremonies                          [p2 of 5]


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End of Era - Panama Canal Transfer Ceremonies -- Continued



"Today we come together with a spirit of mutual respect, acknowledging, without question, the complete sovereignty of Panama over this region," said Carter in his remarks made on behalf of the United States. He went on to pay tribute to some of the heroes of the past-- among them, Theodore Roosevelt, George Goethals, William Gorgas -- who had the vision to encompass this enormous undertaking.

He spoke of the long festering controversy that ensued over the decades from the 1903 treaty not signed by a Panamanian, saying:

"It was a source of great pride in my country from the time I was a child until I became President of the United States and even now, of what was accomplished here but we didn't understand clearly enough the feeling of many Panamanians that the arrangements implied an element of colonialism and subjugation, and not an equal representation of leaders from two sovereign countries. This created a need for later Presidents to address the controversy."

He spoke of the difficulties of previous presidential attempts to address the controversy and to arrive at a new arrangement and when he took up the challenge the trouble he had in getting a rather unpopular treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate. He noted that of the 20 senators who voted for the Treaty, who had to run for a re-election the next November, only seven came back the following January to continue serving in the senate. And Carter had lost his re-election bid.

He noted that in the United States as well as in Panama there were then demagogues who made false statements, exaggerated problems, predicted catastrophes, in order to upset and disturb the people of the U.S. There are still a few of those, unfortunately, in the U.S. today who are planting improper, incorrect and false stories about the security of the Canal and how well it is being operated.

He concluded saying, " We must honor the past, I tried to do that this morning, but we must pledge ourselves, on part of the United States of America to be a full partner, a harmonious partner, an equal partner, in answering any request that comes from Panama to make the operations of the Canal even greater in the next millennium."

"IT'S YOURS," said former President Jimmy Carter to then Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso as they exchanged signed documents symbolizing the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panamanian ownership during the December 14, 1999, transfer ceremony. [Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority]



This page last updated:  July 4, 2008
Site developed, owned and maintained by 
William H. Ormsbee, Jr.
1999-2001 / 2005-2008





Transfer Ceremonies

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Failed Negotiations

Vanishing Culture

Closeout of Era







PANAMA CANAL (1914-1999)