The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Panama ( Dawson )
27. Your 25, February 13, 5 p.m., and 27, February 14, 8 p.m. You are requested to obtain an interview with the President of the Republic and hand him an aide-mémoire 19 which reads as follows:
“The Government of the United States has given careful consideration to the views expressed by the Government of Panama, as set forth in the communication handed to the Ambassador of the United States by His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs on February 13. The Government of the United States has likewise received with satisfaction the assurances conveyed to the Ambassador of the United States on February 14 by His Excellency the President of the Republic.
The Government of the United States, noting with pleasure the expression of the sincere desire of the Government of Panama to give its most ample cooperation to the Government of the United States in the general defense of the hemisphere and confident as it is of the joint desire of the two Governments to fulfill the obligations incumbent upon them by reason of the General Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, signed on March 2, 1936, refers specifically to the second paragraph of Article II of the said treaty, which reads as follows:
‘While both Governments agree that the requirement of further lands and waters for the enlargement of the existing facilities of the Canal appears to be improbable, they nevertheless recognize, subject to the provisions of Articles I and X of this Treaty, their joint obligation to insure the effective and continuous operation of the Canal and the preservation of its neutrality, and consequently, if, in the event of some now unforeseen contingency, the utilization of lands or waters additional to those already employed should be in fact necessary for the maintenance, sanitation or efficient operation of the Canal, or for its effective protection, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Panama will agree upon such measures as it may be necessary to take in order to insure the maintenance, sanitation, efficient operation and effective protection of the Canal, in which the two countries are jointly and vitally interested.’
The Government of the United States likewise refers to the provisions of Article X of the said treaty, which reads as follows:
‘In case of an international conflagration or the existence of any threat of aggression which would endanger the security of the Republic of Panama or the neutrality or security of the Panama Canal, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Panama will take such measures of prevention and defense as they may consider necessary for the protection of their common interests. Any measures, in safeguarding such interests, which it shall appear essential to one Government to take, and which may affect the territory under the jurisdiction of the other Government, will be the subject of consultation between the two Governments.’
The Government of the United States has reached the conclusion that, in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article II above quoted, a contingency has now arisen not foreseen [Page 429] at the time of the signature of the Treaty of 1936 which requires the utilization by the United States of additional lands for the effective protection of the Canal.
The Government of the United States has likewise reached the conclusion that, in accordance with the terms of Article X of the Treaty of 1936 above quoted, an international conflagration has broken out bringing with it the existence of a threat to the security of the Panama Canal which requires the taking of measures for the defense of the Canal on the part of the Government of the United States.
These measures of defense require the utilization of certain tracts of land within the territory of the Republic of Panama and outside of the Canal Zone, which tracts have been indicated to the Government of Panama by the appropriate authorities of the United States.
The Government of the United States therefore requests of the Government of Panama that, for the reasons above cited and in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of 1936 above quoted, the Government of Panama transfer to the authorities of the United States the said tracts of land at the earliest opportunity. The Government of the United States stands ready, in accordance with the spirit of cooperation which animates both Governments, to consult immediately with the Government of Panama in order that a satisfactory agreement may be reached covering the method of transfer and the amounts to be fixed by agreement between the two Governments as equitable compensation for the lands whose utilization is now required.
The Government of the United States takes pleasure in stating that when and if the conditions which have now arisen and which require the utilization of the said tracts of land for the defense of the Panama Canal or for its effective protection cease to exist, the Government of the United States will return to the jurisdiction of the Republic of Panama the tracts of land in question.”
In your conversation with the President of the Republic, you may make it clear that the communication which you are requested to hand to him is sent by direct instruction of the President.
Ambassador Brin has been informed that the President will receive him on February 18. At that time the President will make clear to him the serious view which he takes of this continued delay on the part of the Government of Panama in carrying out its treaty obligations. The President will likewise emphasize his belief that while the Government of the United States stands always ready and willing to consider in the most friendly spirit any request which the Government of Panama may make of it for economic or financial assistance, such requests for assistance cannot be regarded as forming any part of the discussions relating to the carrying out by the Republic of Panama of the treaty obligations incumbent upon it through the provisions of the Treaty of 1936.
- Ambassador Dawson handed the aide-mémoire to President Arias on February 18.↩