File No. 419.11D29/87.

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a despatch13 received from the American Minister to the Republic of Panama, containing his report upon a conference which he had with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, in which conference certain proposals were made by Panama regarding the control of the Panaman police by American policemen. A copy of the before-mentioned despatch is forwarded for your information, and it is requested that this Department may be favored with the views of the War Department concerning the proposal outlined by the Panaman Minister for Foreign Affairs.

So far Minister Price does not seem to have received the note promised him by Señor Lefevre, the Panaman Minister for Foreign Affairs, in which a formal proposal along the lines of the conference [Page 1222] was to be made. This Department, however, would like to be informed as to the views of the War Department, in order that no time may be lost in acting upon Señor Lefevre’s suggestions, once they are received.

For your information, the Department of State ventures to express its opinion, as a matter of policy, that the degree of control allowed the American policemen and their subordination to Panaman superiors which would result from the scheme as outlined by Señor Lefevre, does not meet with the approval of the Department.

It is also felt that should any control of the Panaman police be attempted by the American authorities it should be absolute in character, allowing a free hand to the American official who would be in charge of the American personnel and whatever Panaman personnel would seem best under the circumstances.

It is true that this Government has, in the past, failed to avail itself of the rights which it has under the terms of the treaty with Panama, to insist upon the control of the police on the Isthmus. The recent riots there, however, have again brought the matter to the attention of this Government and in order to take whatever action may seem best in the premises, it wishes to be in possession of such views as your Department may care to submit, regarding full American control of the police in Panama.

I have [etc.]

W. J. Bryan.
  1. No. 476, dated April 17, 1915; printed under Riot at Cocoa Grove, ante.