The Chargé in Panama (Muccio) to the Secretary of State

No. 5512

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 5422 of May 3, 1944, entitled “Minister of Foreign Relations Complains of Alleged Discrimination against Panamanian Citizen Employees in the Canal Zone”, and to previous correspondence relating to numerous recent protests alleging racial and nationalistic discrimination in Canal Zone employment policies.

I am now enclosing a copy of a letter dated May 18, 194445 from Lieutenant General George H. Brett, Commanding General of the Caribbean Defense Command, which is based principally on the concept that the expression of the policy of equality of opportunity and treatment contained in the exchange of notes that accompanied the signing of the General Treaty of 1936 applies only to employees of The Panama Canal46 and Panama Railroad Company47 and not to employees of any other United States Government agencies upon the Isthmus. He further advises that he is following implicitly all Acts of Congress and Directives of the War Department with respect to these matters.

There is also enclosed a copy of a letter dated May 19, 1944, and enclosure,48 from Brigadier General J. C. Mehaffey, Governor of The Panama Canal, in reply to the Foreign Minister’s memorandum pointing out that the complaint is directed against an Army agency and does not pertain to The Panama Canal or Panama Railroad. He goes on, however, to set forth the practices and policies of the Canal Administration regarding the subjects concerned.49

This Embassy will take no further action on this matter pending receipt of instructions from the Department.

Respectfully yours,

John J. Muccio
  1. Not printed.
  2. Name applied to the Canal Zone Government which operated temporarily under the direction of the military commander of the Panama Canal Department.
  3. An instrumentality of the United States Government.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. For overtime work pay was computed at the rate of 1½ for gold roll employees for hours in excess of 40 per administrative workweek, and at the same rate for silver roll employees for hours in excess of 10 per day and for Saturday and Sunday. For an explanation of the terms “gold” and “silver” employees, see Annual Report of the Governor of the Panama Canal, 1945, p. 64.