FORT KOBBE, Panama (AP) -- The U.S. military presented its plan
Thursday to withdraw from the Panama Canal area by Dec. 31, as required
by 1979 treaties.
The treaties, signed by then presidents Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos,
require the United States to hand over control of the waterway and
surrounding territory by the end of the year.
"We are in a hurry to transfer all the facilities before Dec. 31," said
David Hunt. "We have an intensive schedule."
The United States will hand over installations on Galeta Island on March
the year's first transfer. Rodman naval base will be transferred on April 30,
and Fort Sherman and two shooting ranges will be handed over to Panama
Other facilities will be turned over in August and November.
Of the more than 10,000 American soldiers stationed in Panama in the early
1990s, only 4,000 remain, Hunt said. Another 3,000 are expected to leave
The loss of the U.S. troops based in the zone will cost Panama's economy
up to $300 million a year, but officials say they will more than make up for
that with an expected boom in tourism and new businesses. Some critics are
The canal generated toll income of $545.7 million in the 1998 fiscal year.
average of 33 to 35 ships pass through the 50-mile-long waterway each
day, paying tolls based on their weight.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.