Clipped From Asbury Park Press

tvcollect Member Photo

Clipped by tvcollect

 - , mericans find Canal Zone snarled ipe A. i The...
, mericans find Canal Zone snarled ipe A. i The Associated Press Panama The roads have' rnore potholes and the jungle is creeping "Jovarsome of the once close-cropped close-cropped close-cropped lawns thalnade the Panama Canal Zone a little tAoierica in the tropics. :IftBut most Americans staying on after tth8nin8 the Panama Canal treaties -QJhat -QJhat except for red tape, life hasn't rdhahged all that much now that they live tqnder the flag of Panama at least not C IJThe (American) police will be phased ';4utjext March. I think you will see more -'Americans -'Americans leaving before then in anticipa-Co4 anticipa-Co4 anticipa-Co4 said James O'Donnell, president -t65tus -t65tus of the American Federation of t "government Employees Local 14. .When the canal treaties took effect Oct. QjjS, granting Panama sovereignty over rtheTCanal Zone, 3,591 Americans were em- em- ployed by the Panama Canal Co. and the Canal Zone government, official records showed. As of this past July 24 about 2,130 U.S. citizens were employed by the Panama Canal Commission, the agency created by the U.S. Congress to run the waterway until Americans pull out completely in the year 2000. U.S. police and courts have continued to function in the former Canal Zone during during a 30-month 30-month 30-month transition with jurisdiction over Americans. Both will be phased out by April, leaving Americans entirely subject, subject, to Panamanian law. The Americans who have stayed continue continue to receive the same salary as well as the 15 percent tropical-pay tropical-pay tropical-pay differential. They reside in housing that may rent for as little as $100 a month for a two-bedroom two-bedroom two-bedroom duplex. They can import one car duty-free duty-free duty-free eve1 y two years, but instead of shopping at ccnpany stores they must now buy at U.S. military commissaries. They also may use the military postal system. Both Panamanians and Americans still refer to the area as the Canal Zone despite a Panamanian government campaign to promote use of "Canal Area." WHATEVER THE term used, the former former zone still provides a sharp contrast to the teeming slums in nearby Panama City just across the Avenue of the Martyrs, as Panamanians call it, or Fourth of July Avenue, as it is known to Americans. The major complaint of Americans is that it now takes mountains of red tape to accomplish matters that could be handled before by mailing a check to the Canal Zone government. Now the Americans must go to the government government of Panama for automobile, air- air- plane and boat licenses, as well as for birth, death and marriage certificates. The Panamanian government has set up offices in the zone, but the procedure is the same as at any other Panamanian office. office. For many Americans, having to deal with the Panamanian government came as shock. Said Georges Bouche, whose grandfathers grandfathers helped build the canal: "Take a simple simple thing like getting license plates. It took me an hour and a half of waiting in line and innumerable forms plus I had to pay in cash." Others complained it now takes two days to import a car, a procedure that took only a few minutes under the old system. i BOUCHE AND other Americans also claimed that Panama frequently changes policy without prior notification. "The way we found out they had changed the railroad schedule was when we heard the train go by," said Bouche, ombudsman for American employees. The Panama Railroad runs parallel to the canal and is used by workers for commuting. commuting. The railroad and all rolling stock were handed over to Panama when the new treaties took effect. Carlos Lopez Guevara, a Panamanian treaty negotiator and former ambassador to Washington, said the Americans were spoiled by the Carial Zone government and that they had it better than citizens living in the United States. "They've been 'encapsulated; they feel themselves privileged," Lopez Guevara maintained, adding that "some are still fighting the treaties." Lopez Guevara! who now has a private law practice, said there is a lot of red tape in Panama but he said it also exists in the United States and that Zonians were just being forced to live in the real world. O'Donnell, whose father came to the Zone as a planner in 1927, said most Americans have accepted Panamanian jurisdiction and that in retrospect "the treaties were a good thing." "There is less animosity now toward Americans. There's been a lessening of tension. tension. We're no longer the punching bag for Panama's problems," he said. O'Donnell, who is the canal's chief electric-power electric-power electric-power dispatcher, said that Americans Americans "aren't as gung-ho gung-ho gung-ho as they once were" and he predicted declining morale eventually will take a toll on the canal's efficiency. "The canal is like an old car going down the road. The door falls off and you can keep going. But eventually it's going to stop," he said. barters

Clipped from Asbury Park Press25 Oct 1981, SunOther EditionsPage 1

Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey)25 Oct 1981, SunOther EditionsPage 1
tvcollect Member Photo

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in