819.74/265: Telegram

The Minister in Panama (Gonzalez) to the Secretary of State

19. Referring to my telegram No. 14, January 29, 4 p.m. The Panaman Government has, up to the present time, failed to communicate in writing its views on the radio question. I submitted on the 2d to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs an informal draft of joint agreement covering the transfer of radio stations at Obaldía and La Palma to the Panaman Government, and requesting examination by Panaman authorities. The draft was composed by the Legation in accordance with the Department’s telegraphic instruction of November 21, 7 p.m. It was in line with suggestion by the Navy here and endeavored to meet objections voiced by Panama in the various conversations held by Legation since November 24. Copy is being forwarded to the Department by air mail.

It provided that the transfer of the two stations would not obligate Panama to clear messages from them through naval radio at Balboa and I verbally expressed the willingness of the Navy to assist Panama in constructing additional stations of its own in Panama City or elsewhere.

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Secretary Arosemena said that the agreement seemed reasonable as with its own radio stations Panama could initiate ship to shore service. I replied that the draft agreement was certainly limited to the transfer of two stations as a courtesy to Panama but in no wise affected the ship to shore question whose solution was a matter of separate negotiation in line with the conversations between the two Presidents44 and will follow the establishment of the radio board. This board, President Arias now believes, is unacceptable to Panama in the form outlined in item 8 of the Washington agreement.45

I said there was no objection to Panama communication with other countries through the two stations or through such other stations as it might install as long as the defense and operation of the Canal is properly safeguarded, and that the Navy expresses a willingness to construct a central station at Panama City for the Government of Panama. The Secretary said that Tropical Radio would effect this service for Panama.

The Secretary promised to have the radio question considered at a special Cabinet meeting and to transmit the views of Panama to the Legation on February 8.

The Legation can see no reconciliation of the opposing views of the Navy and Panama regarding ship to shore service, and it is now clear that Panama, on establishing independent operation of Obaldía and La Palma as a precedent, would initiate ship to shore service through Tropical Radio and disregard what the Navy so strongly considers to be essential, viz., control through a board when the United States is adequately represented.