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

No. 777


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When I called on the President this morning (after my telephone conversation with Mr. Duggan) I explained briefly my reasons for requesting the audience, adding that the President had no doubt already been apprised of the circumstances by Dr. De Roux. [Here [Page 1095] follows account of conversation given in telegram No. 199, November 20, 1 p.m., supra.]

Dr. Arias told me that in the preliminary discussion of the draft of the new constitution the question of the recognition of jurisdictional limitations had come up on several occasions, and that it had been held by the jurists who participated in the work that the references to existing treaties found in the original draft covered the situation adequately. He said that some time last week the question had come up for reconsideration and that out of abundant caution and in order to leave no room for doubt it had been decided to incorporate a clause expressly recognizing jurisdictional limitations. He gave me distinctly to understand that the addition of the clause approved yesterday by the Assembly had been decided upon before my interview of November 16 with the Secretary of Foreign Relations.

In view of this statement, I did not consider it advisable to make any attempt to inquire as to the reasons for the omission of the provision from the original draft. I may point out that the same omission is observed in the draft of a new constitution discussed in 1938 (Page 6 of Mr. Flexer’s despatch No. 491 of September 23, 193836). I am inclined to ascribe the omission primarily to the nationalistic tendencies animating the authors of both the 1938 and 1940 drafts. The two projects follow the same general lines and are supposed to represent in the main the aspirations of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, whose leader was in 1938 and is now Dr. Arnulfo Arias.

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson
  1. Not printed.