File No. 819.74/40.



Refer to Panama Canal Treaty of 1903, Article 2, last sentence of first paragraph; Article 3; Article 6; Article 7, first sentence; and Article 24. Department believes that under these provisions the United States may, by due process, take over and control all wireless stations within the territory of Panama which tend to interfere with the United States radio system established for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation and protection of the Canal, or of any auxiliary canals or other works, notwithstanding the Constitution, laws or treaties of Panama. Any stations so taken over may, in the view of the Department, be operated under any system of charges and rules of transmission, not conflicting with Article 11, which may be determined by this Government. The procedure under the treaty of acquiring such Panaman stations, however, is likely to prove to be not only dilatory and expensive but inconvenient and may cause irritation and friction.

It would seem therefore more feasible for both Governments to enter upon an agreement for the conduct of radio communication with the Canal Zone and the territory of the Republic of Panama in order to avoid future difficulties, and it is for this purpose that it desired to enter into a radio agreement with Panama.

Evidently in case of war or other necessity the United States should not be hampered in its efforts to operate, maintain or protect [Page 1043] the Canal, as contemplated by the Treaty of 1903, by any possibility of the hostile or lawless use of radio telegraphy on the Isthmus. Moreover, the United States, under Article 1, “guarantees and will maintain the independence of the Republic of Panama.” It is therefore indispensable that the United States should be in a position to carry out with the utmost despatch and without interference by radio stations not under its control, its obligations under the treaty not only in respect to the Canal, but in respect to the independence of Panama itself.

The approaching completion of the Canal and of the powerful wireless station in the Zone as well as the possibility of using the Canal in the immediate future, show the urgency or concluding a radio agreement with Panama at the earliest possible moment.

You will immediately bring these views to the attention of the Panama Government and courteously but firmly urge upon the Foreign Minister the necessity of proceeding with the negotiations with the greatest possible despatch to the end that an agreement containing substantially the stipulations set forth in the Navy Department’s letter of November 22, 1913, may be consummated. You will add that the insistence of the United States in this matter grows out of no unfriendliness on its part toward the Government of Panama but is based upon the obvious necessity of establishing immediately on the Isthmus a complete system of radio telegraphy under the absolute and unhampered control of the United States Government in order that it may perform its treaty obligations and protect its interests.