811F.504/353: Telegram

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

148. The Secretaries of War and Navy have been informed by the President that unless objection is interposed by the State Department a plan for recruitment of labor in the Canal Zone will be set up along the following lines: (1) The Canal stands ready to accept competent laborers from Colombia or other countries of the Western Hemisphere acceptable to the Republic of Panamá, which that Government may bring or induce to come to the Isthmus; (2) representatives of the Canal are making preliminary arrangements with the Government of Puerto Rico for the importation of several hundred laborers from that island; (3) the Governor of the Canal requests authorization to import approximately 1,000 additional laborers from Jamaica as an emergency measure.

The Secretary of War has informed the President that the Government of Panamá would interpose no objections if Jamaican labor were imported to meet immediate needs. He also stated that the proposed importations are regarded as of an emergency nature, and the laborers will be returned to their homes as soon as their places can be filled by other competent laborers from sources more acceptable to Panamá.

Before acquiescing in the proposed plan the Department wishes to receive by telegraph your recommendations.