The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Panama (Dawson)
56. Your 64 and 65 of March 30.26 While the Department wishes to avoid any situation which will make more difficult the negotiations with the Panamanian Government, it cannot emphasize too strongly that prompt occupation of the defense sites is now essential.
You are requested to seek an interview with the Panamanian Minister of Foreign Affairs or, in your discretion, with the President, and express the great pleasure with which this Government learned from the Panamanian aide-mémoire dated March 5, 1941 that the Government of Panama is agreeable to making these sites available at once. You should say that your Government is prepared to cooperate in this regard immediately, and has directed its military authorities to proceed at once with the occupation and preparation of these sites. With this in view, you should add, General Van Voorhis has prepared a schedule of dates on which it would be convenient for detachments from his forces to occupy the desired sites. You should then hand this schedule to the Minister. In order to comply with the formalities desired by the Panamanian Government, he would be pleased to have Panamanian members of the Joint Board accompany the detachments to the various sites and there make formal transfer of the sites. This would appear to be all the formality necessary at this time in as much as the sites have already been visited by competent authority. Since it may not be practicable for both or, in fact, either the Panamanian or American members of the Joint Board to be present on each occasion, more particularly in the case of outlying and remote sites, you should say that your Government would be agreeable to having present at the time of these occupations any representative of the Panamanian Government other than the Panamanian members of the Joint Board who might be designated for the purpose or, in fact, to forego the presence of a Panamanian representative if this better suited the convenience or the desires of the Panamanian Government.
For your information, the War Department desires that the transfer [Page 442] of the sites more urgently needed take place within the next week or 10 days and that arrangements for the transfer of the remaining sites take place when and as the Army is prepared to occupy them.
In case, and only in case, the Panamanian Government should inquire when a reply to its aide-mémoire of March 5, 1941 may be expected, you may say that this reply is being studied and that it will be transmitted as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Department is confident that the Panamanian Government will agree to the procedure outlined in this telegram so that, in accordance with the clear provisions of the aide-mémoire under reference, the sites will be immediately available and the question of details left to subsequent discussion.
- Neither printed.↩