The Panama Canal treaty was negotiated by a Frenchman and an American before Panamanian officials could reach Washington. It was one of many, many grand heists of land from people with far fewer gunships. As Jimmy Carter negotiated a treaty with Panamainian General Omar Torrijos, candidate Ronald Reagan campaigned on a platform of, screw those people, we are not giving it back. Which motivated John Wayne, yes that John Wayne, to weigh in and say the following.
Associated Press. March 16, 1987.
In a letter to Mr. Reagan dated Nov. 11, 1977, a copy of which was sent to Mr. Carter, the actor accused Mr. Reagan of spreading untruths about the Panama Canal Treaty in letters to his supporters.
”Now I have taken your letter, and I’ll show you point by goddamn point in the treaty where you are misinforming people,” Mr. Wayne told Mr. Reagan. ”If you continue these erroneous remarks, someone will publicize your letter to prove that you are not as thorough in your reviewing of this treaty as you say or are damned obtuse when it comes to reading the English language.”
He signed the letter ”Duke” and enclosed with it a five-page rebuttal – written on the stationery of the Republican National Committee – of Mr. Reagan’s stand on the canal issue.
The treaty was signed and honored.