File No. 819.1052/81

Minister Price to the Secretary of State

No. 931

Sir: There is enclosed herewith a copy of my note to the Panaman Foreign Office framed in accordance with instruction No. 242 of April 15.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price
[Page 941]

Minister Price to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

F. O. No. 304

Excellency: Confirming our conference in the matter I have the honor to advise your excellency that my Government has instructed me to inform your excellency’s Government that, after careful consideration, it has definitely concluded that the continued use of high power rifles by the national police of Panama in the cities of Panama and Colon, or the storage of these rifles at any place accessible to said police, constitute so great a source of danger that it finds it necessary to bring the matter now again in all earnestness before your excellency’s Government, and to repeat the demand finally (presented by my note No. 247 of October 15, 1915,4 to which reference is made) for the disarmament of said police of such firearms.

With reference to the assurance given by your excellency in your note of November 12, 1915,5 relating to this matter that the police would not use these rifles in municipal service, the Department of State of my Government calls attention to the fact that the police appeared armed with these rifles during the fire in the city of Panama on January 12 last, and that this has clearly shown how ineffectual have been these orders mentioned by your excellency in said note. Moreover, it is plain that the necessity does not exist that the police of these cities should receive military instruction in the use of rifles, nor that arms of this character should even be used for guarding prisoners, as shotguns are far more efficient and serviceable for such a purpose.

In view of the unfortunate experiences of the past and for the purpose of better safeguarding life and preserving peace and order, I am directed formally to demand the immediate disarmament of the said rifle equipment and that only pistols shall hereafter be available for the use of said police. The guard of honor in the presidential palace does not come within the provisions of this demand,—the retention of rifles by them being agreeable to my Government. As to the guards for the prison my Government expresses the willingness that shotguns may be used by them in place of the rifles.

Brigadier General C. R. Edwards, Military Commander of the Canal Zone, reports that he has dry and safe storage room for these rifles where they may be held for delivery to your excellency’s Government in the event of any occurrence which would make the use of them advisable in the opinion of both Governments.

I take [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price