811F.504/354: Telegram

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

178. Department’s telegram No. 148 of October 10. It is improbable that the Panamanian Government will be able to arrange to bring laborers from Colombia or other countries in any considerable numbers in the near future. In spite of efforts to expedite matters the [Page 1112]importation of Puerto Rican labor is being held up by absence of transportation facilities. There is urgent need for additional labor in the Canal Zone and the demand will increase greatly during the coming months. It is difficult to see how the demand can be met without further importation of Jamaican labor. Whatever might have been the reaction of the previous Panamanian administration there is reason to believe that President Arias59 may entertain objections to any further importation of Jamaican labor even for emergency purposes and on a temporary basis. In the circumstances my recommendation is that before action is taken Governor Edgerton60 and I request an interview with the President of Panamá for the purpose of discussing the situation frankly and explaining to him the urgency of the present need. General Van Voorhis61 and the Governor concur in this recommendation. The Department’s further instructions are requested.

  1. Arnulfo Arias took office as President of Panamá, October 1, 1940.
  2. Successor to General Ridley as Governor of the Panamá Canal.
  3. Successor to Major General Stone as Military Commander of the Panamá Canal Department.