819.00/1209: Telegram

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

97. My October 12, 11 a.m. At the President’s request, the Governor of the Canal Zone, the Commanding General and I conferred with him and the Minister for Foreign Affairs this noon. The President stated that the subversive movement was growing rapidly and that the morale of the police force was deteriorating through overwork and propaganda. The President referred to the fact that transportation services have been paralyzed today through intimidation and that the inquilinos25 had announced that they would stop supply of bread and other food tomorrow. He thought that the Government could dominate the situation by the use of force but with much bloodshed and without being able to terminate the present agitation. He therefore inquired under what conditions the American military authorities would take over the maintenance of order if requested to do so. The Commanding General stated that he would have to assume full control of the policing of the city but with as little interference as possible with the functioning of the Panaman authorities. Subsequently the Minister for Foreign Affairs sent me a formal note requesting the assistance of the United States in the form outlined at the conference. I so informed the Governor and about 600 American troops entered the city at 2 p.m., so far as I know without serious incidents. Practically all street traffic was suspended this morning and nearly all stores and business houses were closed. Several Americans appealed to me for assistance saying that they were being compelled by threats of mob violence to close their places of business, and I am informed that many more made similar complaints to the Governor of the Canal Zone. The Panaman Government was obviously unable to extend protection in such cases. I am convinced that a very serious situation would have developed within 24 hours and that there would probably have been more bloodshed if the Canal authorities had not intervened.

  1. Tenants.