711F.1914/191: Telegram

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

32. Department’s telegram No. 27 of February 17. The Minister of Foreign Relations handed me an aide-mémoire today and stated that President Arias desired that it be communicated to President Roosevelt as his reply to the aide-mémoire which I handed him on February 18. I shall forward the Spanish text of the Panamanian aide-mémoire by direct air mail on Sunday. It reads as follows in translation:

“The Government of Panama has considered with all the attention which it merits the last aide-mémoire presented by His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States to His Excellency the President of Panama under date of February 18.

Respectful of its international obligations and favorably disposed to fulfill its repeated offers of cooperation in the general defense of the hemisphere, considering the statements contained in the said aide-mémoire, according to which the Government of the United States affirms that ‘it has reached the conclusion that an international conflagration has broken out bringing with it the existence of a threat to the security of the Panama Canal’, the Government of the Isthmus, in accordance with article X of the General Treaty of 1936, which stipulates the obligations which in cases like that in question would be incumbent upon Panama, is willing to grant to the Government of the United States the utilization of the lands necessary for defense, [Page 432] within the territory of the Republic and outside the Canal Zone, for the duration of the international conflagration which motivates the request of the Government of the United States.

In accordance with the spirit which inspires article II of the General Treaty, by which the United States renounced the acquisition of new lands and waters in the Isthmus, and the spirit of article X of the same treaty which contemplates the use of new lands in exceptional cases and in a temporary manner, it is hoped that the Government of the United States will be willing to agree that once the present international conflagration has terminated the lands in question will revert to the Republic.

Likewise, it is hoped that the Government of the United States will consider the reasons set forth by the Government of Panama in the course of the conversations which have been held regarding the jurisdiction which the American authorities would exercise over the leased lands, and that it will agree that the said jurisdiction will be exercised only over its military personnel on duty.

The Government of the Republic of Panama has received with particular pleasure the assurance which the Government of the United States has given it of its readiness to establish by common accord the proposed compensation which may be appropriate.

If the Government of the United States accepts the general bases which this aide-mémoire contains, the Government of Panama will proceed without loss of time to authorize the preliminary preparation of the lands, and in accordance with the spirit of cooperation which animates the two Governments, will then begin to study and determine the terms of the pertinent agreements.

The new spirit of understanding and sincere friendship which distinguishes the aide-mémoire of the Embassy of the United States of the 18th of February has been very satisfactory to the Government of Panama. It is pleasing that the good relations happily existing between both peoples are closer and deeper each day and that the differences of environment to which they are necessarily exposed by reason of the interests of both countries, find an adequate solution, always friendly, which reaffirms more and more the sentiments of solidarity and cooperation which the two Governments desire keenly to preserve.”