819.00/2020: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Panama ( Dawson )

58. Your letter to the Under Secretary dated May 4.28 The policy which should be pursued in case disorders occur in the Republic of Panama in connection with the forthcoming election is as follows:

“In case disorder occurs in connection with the presidential campaign, the American military authorities on the Canal Zone should take the necessary precautions within the Zone to ensure that the disorder does not spread to territory under the jurisdiction of the United States.

American citizens seeking refuge in the Canal Zone should be admitted.

Panamanians and other foreigners may be permitted to take refuge in the Canal Zone on condition that their arms, if any, are surrendered [Page 1092] and that they do not re-enter the Republic of Panama during the continuance of disturbed conditions.

Pursuant to the well-established policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, it is not anticipated that American military forces would enter the Republic of Panama even if the Panamanian Government should request their intervention.

In the unlikely event that the operation of the Canal, or its safety, were threatened by disorder in the Republic of Panama, this Government would wish to consult with the Panamanian Government as to the course which should be followed in eliminating this peril.

In view of the importance of this matter, no military action by American forces should occur that might affect the Republic of Panama until specific instructions therefor have been received from the State and War Departments respectively.”

The War Department requests that a paraphrase of the above be handed to General van Voorhis,29 who is being instructed simultaneously to adopt this policy for his guidance in the premises. General van Voorhis is being asked to keep in constant touch with you in the handling of any situation which may arise.30

  1. Not printed. The Ambassador reported a request that a Canal Zone telephone be installed in the Presidential Palace and said he inferred that the President expected trouble and probably wished to be in a position to request militaryassistance, perhaps for his personal protection.
  2. Military Commander of the Panama Canal Department.
  3. The election passed without serious disorders calling for the application of this instruction.