File No. 819.74/30.

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War.

Sir: The Department has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letters of the Acting Secretary of War, dated the 7th,14 9th14 and 26th instant, regarding the establishment of wireless stations in the Canal Zone and the Republic of Panama.

The Acting Secretary enclosed correspondence of the War Department with the American Marconi Company and with the United States authorities on the Isthmus in reference to the desire of the American Marconi Company to establish a wireless telegraph station on the Island of Taboquilla. It appears from this correspondence that the establishment of a station in this Island would interfere with the operation of the United States station now in use at Ancon, Canal Zone, and that as Taboquilla Island is situated outside of the Canal Zone and belongs to the Republic of Panama the proposed station does not fall under the prohibitions of the Act to regulate radio communication, approved August 13, 1912.

The Acting Secretary, therefore, requests that if in the opinion of this Department, the Panama Canal Act of August 24, 1912, authorizes the President so to do—

the necessary steps be taken to enter into an agreement relative to the establishment of wireless telegraph stations so that there will be no danger of the Republic of Panama granting any concession for the erection of such wireless stations which would interfere with the operation of the Government plants on the Canal Zone.

By Section 6 of the Panama Canal Act of August 24, 1912, the President is authorized:

“To cause to be erected, maintained, and operated,” subject to the international convention and the Act of Congress to regulate radio communication, “at suitable places along the Panama Canal and the coast adjacent to its two terminals, in connection with the operation of said Canal, such wireless telegraphic installations as he may deem necessary for the operation, maintenance, sanitation and protection of said canal, and for other purposes”;
To make such agreements with the Government of Panama as may be requested for necessary installations upon the territory of that Republic and to provide for the trasmission of private and commercial messsages as well as of those of the Government of Panama on such terms as he may prescribe, the messages of the United States to have precedence; and also
“In his discretion, to enter into such operating agreements or leases with any private wireless company or companies as may best insure freedom from interference with the wireless telegraphic installations established by the United States.”

The Department is of opinion that these provisions authorize the President not only to make agreements with the Government of [Page 1038] Panama for the establishment of wireless telegraph installations within the territory of that Republic, but also, as an incident of the exercise of such power, to agree with the Government of Panama that the latter shall not do anything, either directly or by contract with governments, companies, or individuals which may interfere with the operation of the stations established or to be established by the United States within the Canal Zone or upon the territory of the Republic.

It is the opinion of the Department that an agreement to this effect, entered into with the Government of Panama under section 6 of the Act above quoted, is not a treaty and consequently would not have to be submitted to the Senate of the United States for its approval.

In this relation it is proper to advert to the fact that the Panama Government has heretofore appeared to admit that wireless installations were not to be permitted in its territory that conflict with those established by the United States and has, since 1910, repeatedly given oral assurances that it would not allow further installations of wireless plants within its territory without the consent of the United States. But, as the correspondence indicates that it would be desirable to have a definite agreement on the subject, this Department will be prepared to undertake negotiations with the Government of Panama to that end. Inasmuch, however, as the establishment and operation of wireless stations along the Canal are under the control of the War and Navy Departments, these Departments are in a better position than the Department of State to indicate what provisions it is necessary and advisable to include in an agreement with Panama on this subject. It is, therefore, suggested that the War and Navy Departments agree upon a draft of proposals which this Department may submit to the Government of Panama as the basis of an agreement. This suggestion has also been made to the Navy Department.

The Acting Secretary’s letter of the 26th instant states that on the 14th of June last the Republic of Panama made a contract with the United Fruit Company for the establishment of a wireless telegraph plant in Colon. It appears from the files of this Department that the United Fruit Company had previously, on December 27, 1910, concluded a contract with the Government of Panama for a wireless plant at Colon, copy of which contract is on record in this Department. In order to form the basis of a protest against this apparent infraction of the understanding between the two Governments, this Department would be glad to be furnished with the terms of the contract of June 14 last, mentioned above, as well as with a statement of the reasons to be urged upon Panama for the acceptance by her of the proposals which the War and Navy Departments may desire us to present.

I have [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
J. B. Moore

Note.—A letter similar to the above was sent to the Secretary of the Navy, August 29, 1913.

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