File No. 763.72114/3515
The Minister in Panama ( Price) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11.19 p.m.]
War Department on April 11 telegraphed Commanding General, Panama Canal Department, to transfer interns at Taboga Island to New York and abandon former as internment camp. Transport sails Friday on which they have been ordered sent. Upon being authorized yesterday, I promptly informed Panaman Minister for Foreign Affairs of it. He requested a formal note and stated he would make response after consulting Panaman President and Cabinet, and that he would expect Panama’s jurisdiction in the matter of these interns, and that they were Panaman interns, as distinguished from American interns, to be recognized by us. I have submitted note after approval by Commanding General, simply stating that transfer had been found necessary as a military measure and expressing the confidence that as heretofore Panama would accord with the judgment of those upon whom responsibility for protection of Panama and the Canal rested. I anticipate no real trouble from Panama except insistence upon recognition of the technical rights mentioned. It would seem Commanding General and Judge Advocate and advisers, while not yet agreeing that the above insistence of Panaman Minister for Foreign Affairs should be recognized, if asserted in response to my note, feel that the reservation mentioned must by all means be maintained. I refer to Department’s instruction of June 21, 1917, No. 390.
We have accepted that statement, have recognized same, and can do so as requested without prejudice, except that in the practical application of the same or equal rights claimed by us in war time in such matters in relations with Panama, the reservation should be maintained that our judgment and will must prevail in the event of non-accord. Told Panama we would leave Frieda Bartel and child with them under the terms heretofore designated. Instructions will be expected if issue is made.