File No. 819.1052/58.

Chargé Spencer to the Secretary of State.

No. 746.]

Sir: Complying with the Department’s instruction to obtain and report the views of Governor Goethals and General Edwards regarding the recent note of Señor Lefevre concerning the disarmament of the Panaman police, I have the honor to herewith enclose copies of my letters in this sense to Governor Goethals and General Edwards and also a copy of a reply thereto received this morning from General Edwards.

It will be noticed from the enclosed reply of General Edwards that he states “my views upon this matter are expressed in my letter of the 27th ultimo.” I beg to state that a copy of this letter was sent by Minister Price to the Department in despatch No. 699 under date of December 1 last.

I am not as yet in receipt of a reply from Governor Goethals to my note of December 20.

I have [etc.]

Willing Spencer.
[Inclosure 1.]

Chargé Spencer to General Edwards. 14

No. 637.]

Sir: With reference to the letters to you from Minister Price, under date of October 19 and November 19 last, with their enclosures, regarding the disarmament of the National Police of Panama of large arms, I have the honor to inform you that I am in receipt of an instruction from the Department of State informing me that before giving further instructions in the matter they wish me to obtain and report your views regarding Señor Lefevre’s note, “particularly as to the claim made by him that the police are now forbidden to make use of large arms in suppressing disturbances in the cities of Panama and Colon.” This note referred to was sent by Mr. Price as an enclosure in his letter, No. 601 of November 19, 1915, and I shall be glad to transmit any reply you may care to make or any suggestions you might offer.

I am [etc.]

Willing Spencer.
[Inclosure 2.]

General Edwards to Chargé Spencer.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 20th instant in which you request my views as to the attitude we should assume upon the question of the disarmament of high-powered rifles and the Panaman Police in view of Señor Lefevre’s claim that the police are now forbidden to make use of these high-powered rifles in suppressing disturbances in the cities of Panama and Colon. My views upon this matter are expressed in my letter of the 27th ultimo in answer to Mr. Price’s letter of the 19th ultimo. In Señor [Page 1240] Lefevre’s letter to Mr. Price great stress was laid upon the fact that the police constituted the only armed force of the Panama Government. I consider the objection to disarmament on the ground that the police constitute a quasi military force of the Republic of Panama a stronger argument against disarmament than the promise not to use the rifles in times of disturbance. Again, the Panama Government even if it were wise could not afford to have a military force. My idea is to say that the Commanding General has a large supply of small arms in magazine for emergency use to arm civilians, but not enough, and to suggest that their rifles be turned over to him to store for such an emergency to arm Panamans.

Very sincerely,

C. R. Edwards.
  1. The same to General Goethals, except the number, 638, and the number of the letter referred to, 602.