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

No. 231

Sir: I have the honor to enclose for the information and files of the Department a copy of a note (No. 142 of January 3, 1940) concerning the contemplated importation of labor to be recruited in Jamaica for work in the Canal Zone. This note has been addressed to the Panamanian Foreign Office by the Embassy at the suggestion of Governor Ridley.54

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson

The American Ambassador (Dawson) to the Panamanian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Garay)

No. 142

Excellency: Governor Ridley has requested me to advise Your Excellency’s Government that the Canal Zone is faced with a very large construction program requiring the employment of labor beyond the capacity of the Isthmus, and that for this reason arrangements have been made with the British Government whereby the additional labor required will be recruited in Jamaica. It is expected that on January 5 a representative of the Panama Canal will be sent to Jamaica to make the necessary preliminary plans and arrangements.

Governor Ridley requests particularly that, in bringing this information to the attention of the Government of Panamá, Your Excellency be informed that he is proceeding on the following principles:

  • First, in general, labor will be brought from Jamaica only to the extent that the Isthmus is not able to furnish it.
  • Second, all labor brought from Jamaica will be housed on the Canal Zone.
  • Third, all labor brought from Jamaica will be repatriated immediately after discharge.

In conclusion, Governor Ridley asks me to state that every effort will be made to protect the interests of the Government of Panama in the contemplated importation of labor, and that the labor is being brought in only because the labor supply on the Isthmus is not sufficient to perform the work to be done.

Accept [etc.]

[File copy not signed]
  1. Brig. Gen. Clarence S. Ridley, Governor of the Panama Canal.