File No. 4516/2–3.

The Secretary of State to Minister Squiers.

No. 66.]

Sir: The Chinese chargé d’affaires ad interim has informally left at the department a copy of a decree of the Panaman Government, No. 14, of September 21, 1907, which establishes rules regarding Chinese, Syrians, and Turks residing in the Republic of Panama. At the same time he expressed the desire that the diplomatic and consular representatives of the United States on the Isthmus might exercise their good offices in behalf of Chinese subjects affected thereby.

Under the arrangement by which you are permitted to lend your good offices, when they are required, in favor of Chinese subjects resident in Panama you may do so when called upon with reference to matters arising under the decree in question. In a concrete case, for example, you might informally suggest a favorable exercise of such administrative discretion as might be applicable.

It is understood that the Chinese legation regards the provisions of the decree as harsh. Under these circumstances you should bear in mind that, if you are asked to communicate remonstrances against provisions of the decree, your good offices should be confined to a transmission of such representations and should not place you in a position of taking exception to such provisions in your capacity of an official of this Government.

A similar instruction has been sent to the consul-general at Panama and the consul at Colon, who are directed in a specific case to report the circumstances to the legation for its action or instructions.

A translation of the decree is inclosed herewith.

I am, etc.,

Elihu Root.

decree no. 14 of september 21, 1907, superseding nos. 35 of 1904 and 74 of 1906, and established rules regarding chinese, syrians, and turks residing in the republic.

The President of the Republic of Panama, in the use of his powers, and considering—

That the greater part of the provisions of decrees Nos. 35 of 1904 and 74 of 1906, issued in execution of law No. 6 of 1904, have already been put into operation; and
That it has been found in actual practice that some of the provisions of the said decrees do not accomplish the purposes of the law they are intended to enforce, while others are unsuitable; and
That it is well known that the privileges granted by the said decrees have been abused—


Article 1.

Decrees Nos. 35 of April 15, 1904, and 74 of April 14, 1906, are hereby repealed.

Article 2.

The certificates of residence issued in accordance with the provisions of decree No. 35 of 1904 shall be supplemented, for the purpose of facilitating the identification of the persons to whom they belong, by adding to them the photographs of the latter. These photographs shall be pasted on the certificates to which they belong, and shall be sealed cold together with them, with the seal of the governor’s office, bearing the number of the latter, signed by the governor and fastened with inviolable clasps.

For this purpose the holders of these certificates of residence shall present them personally, within ninety days following the publication of this decree, to the office of the governor of the province, accompanied by the photographs.

Article 3.

Immediately after receiving notice of this decree, mayors shall send to the governors of their provinces a list of the certificates they have issued up to date, in order that a note may be made therein that the certificates have been supplemented as provided in the foregoing article.

Article 4.

In the case of resident Chinese, Syrians, and Turks who are absent from the country, the period of ninety days referred to in article 2 of this decree shall begin to elapse on the day of their return.

Article 5.

The photographs shall not be added to any certificates which are defective or do not appear duly recorded, nor to duplicates when the original has already had the photograph added, nor to the original when the duplicates have had it added.

Article 6.

After the period established for supplementing the certificates of citizenship has expired, those in which this formality has not been fulfilled shall be considered as invalid, and the holders thereof shall be compelled to leave the country.

Article 7.

When the holder of a certificate of citizenship has lost it, he shall prove this fact by means of a sworn declaration before the governor of the province, who may make such further investigations as he deems suitable in order to ascertain all the facts, whereupon, if he is satisfied that the statement is true, he shall issue a new certificate, fulfilling all the formalities required for the certificate lost.

Article 8.

The duplicates issued by virtue of the foregoing provisions shall not be valid without beng viséed by the executive department in charge of the matters relating to the enforcement of law No. 6 of 1904.

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Article 9.

Chinese, Syrians, and Turks resident in the country may absent themselves therefrom whenever they desire, but they must first request a passport in writing from the governor of the province, in doing which they shall inclose their certificate in order to prove their lawful residence and in order that it may be kept in the governor’s office until their return to the country.

Passports, as well as the applications therefor, shall be written on stamped paper of the third class.

Article 10.

Passports issued by governors in pursuance to the foregoing article shall refer to the certificate of residence of the person to whom they are issued, giving its number and date, and they shall contain the personal description of the applicant and have his photograph annexed in the same manner as provided in article 2 for the completion of the certificate.

Article 11.

The passports referred to in the foregoing article shall not be issued for more than two years from their date.

Article 12.

Persons who have received a passport and remain away from the country over two years shall be considered to have relinquished their rights as residents of Panama.

Article 13.

Upon their return to the country, persons receiving passports in accordance with the foregoing provisions shall present their passports to the inspector of the port of disembarkation, who, if he finds them correct, shall note the fact on them, stating that he has informed the interested party that he must go to the governor’s office which issued the passport in order to obtain the certificate of residence which he left there. After these annotations have been made, the passports shall be sent to the governor’s office which issued them.

Inspectors of ports shall not allow the holders of passports to land if the passports are not made out in the prescribed form or if the personal description or photographs on them do not tally with those of the holder.

Article 14.

The interested parties shall apply to the governor’s office of their province in order to obtain, after identifying themselves, the certificates of residence which they left there upon leaving the country. The fact of their having thus left the country shall be noted on the said certificates, whereupon the passports shall be sent to the proper executive department for file or destruction.

Article 15.

Transportation companies who bring Chinese, Syrians, or Turks to the country en route elsewhere shall be responsible that they continue to their destination and do not remain in the country in violation of the laws. The police authorities shall lend them the necessary cooperation and assistance for this purpose.

This responsibility of each navigation company shall cease when the company with which it connects assumes it in writing, or upon the presentation of the certificate of disembarkation in the port of destination, issued by the competent authority and certified to by the consul of Panama or of a friendly nation in default of such.

Article 16.

If it should be discovered that these foreigners in transit have evaded the provisions of the law and of this decree, they shall be placed in prison, compelled to leave the country, and the transportation company responsible fined as in the case of article 2 of law 6 of 1904.

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Article 17.

The foreigners referred to in law 6 of 1904 who desire to visit the country for pastime or observation may do so provided they fulfill the following formalities:

First obtain permission from this office.
Come provided with a certificate of personal identification issued by the diplomatic or consular officer of Panama in their country, or, in default of such, by any other official of this class of a friendly nation accredited to the country from which the visitor comes, it being necessary to paste the photograph of the interested party on the back of said certificate; and
Furnish, upon their arrival, a bond for 250 balboas as a pledge that they will not remain longer than three months in the country.

Article 18.

The documents referred to under (1) and (2) of the foregoing article shall be received by the captain of the port (harbor master) in which the interested party lands. Said documents shall be sent at once to this office for file.

Article 19.

The bond referred to under (3) of the foregoinga article shall be canceled upon presentation of a passport issued by this office and canceled by the consul of Panama or of a friendly nation stationed in the foreign port where the interested party lands.

Article 20.

The foreigners referred to in law 6 of 1904, who are members of buisness firms established in the Republic, may come to the country on a visit of inspection for as long as six months, provided they fulfill the same formalities as established in article 17 for such visitors in general, and provided they first prove that they are members by means of a certified copy of the proper document.

Article 21.

When any foreigner referred to in the present decree dies, it shall be necessary, when requesting permission of the mayor to bury the body, to present the certificate of residence of the deceased person for cancellation, a note of such cancellation being made in the register.

The expiration of any certificate of residence shall likewise be noted in the register, without receh ing any notice, when it is known in the mayor’s or governor’s office that the certificate has expired, as in the case of indefinite absence from the country or death outside the jurisdiction of the place where the register is kept.

Article 22.

It is understood that under the denomination of “Turks,” law 6 of 1904 includes only those from Turkey proper, European or Asiatic, and not those from its tributary dependencies.

Article 23.

A note shall likewise be made in the aforementioned register of the certificates of residence canceled for any other reason.

Let this be communicated and published.

J. D. de Obaldia.

Ricardo Arias,
Secretary of Foreign Relations.
  1. This reads “article 5” in the original, but it must be a mistake. Transl.