819.00/1207: Telegram

The Chargé in Panama (Munro) to the Secretary of State

96. My 95, October 11, 9 a.m. Minor disturbances continued throughout yesterday and last night, chauffeurs and street-car employees went on strike paralyzing traffic. Private owners of automobiles, including Americans, have been molested by crowds. The Minister of Foreign Affairs this morning formally asked me to have 300 American troops sent into the city to assist Panaman police in maintaining order. He stated that disturbances resulting in serious bloodshed would occur this morning unless this cooperation were extended and that while the Panaman Government could dominate the situation it could not keep transportation services operating or extend adequate protection to foreigners without help. Since there appeared to be a real emergency in view of intense excitement of laboring classes throughout the city and reported disaffection of part of police force and firemen, I communicated the Government’s request to the Acting Governor of Canal Zone; and after consultation with him I informed the Panaman Government that the American military authorities would assume full control of the policing of the city if the Panaman Government should so request in writing stating that it was unable to maintain [order], but that the American military authorities did not feel able to send a force merely to cooperate with the Panaman police. I also said that American forces are being sent meanwhile to the Zone boundary line in readiness to act should serious [Page 664] disorders occur. It is very possible that the moral effect of this measure will in itself prevent serious disturbances.