The Ambassador in Panama (Dawson) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 22.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 56 dated March 17, 10 a.m.,15 and to enclose copy and translation of Note No. 631 dated March 12, 1941, from the Foreign Office.15 This note confirms the information that had already been given informally to this Embassy that the Ministry of Finance will not cancel the provisional certificates of registry granted the four former Belgian vessels. These certificates will not expire, therefore, until May 7. Permanent registry will be denied, however, unless a certificate of release from the Belgian Government has been presented prior to that date.
I should like to call attention to the statement in the note that the decision of the Ministry of Finance is based on the provisions of Section D of Article 2 and on Article 18 of Law No. 8 of 1925 (translation forwarded in voluntary report No. 11 dated February 2, 1925, from the Consulate General in Panamá15 under the title: “Law Upon Registration and Measurement of Vessels”). Mr. Clarence S. T. Folsom of the Gulf Oil Corporation requested some time ago the opinion of his legal advisers, Arias, Fábrega and Fábrega, on the provisions of Panamanian law regarding certificates of release. Mr. Folsom later informed the Embassy that Dr. Harmodio Arias held that there is no provision of law specifically requiring a certificate of release from the government of former registry of vessels. The Secretary of the Ministry of Finance had informed Dr. Arias, however, that since Article 2, Section D of the above-mentioned Law No. 8 of 1925 required proof of the nationality of vessels being presented for registry, and Article 18 provides, among other things, that the Executive Authority shall regulate by decree the provisional registry of ships, the Ministry of Finance has followed the practice of refusing definitive [Page 16] registry under Panamanian law unless a certificate of release is presented.