Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in Panama (Warren)59

Participants: Foreign Minister Lewis
General Brett
Colonel Montesinos,60 translator for General Brett
Ambassador Warren

At the end of an hour and forty-five minute conversation that ranged from the friendly and informal to guarded and slightly irritated, the following resolutions were proposed and accepted to guide the informal contacts between the Foreign Minister and General Brett, always with my informal knowledge of the instances as they are presented and resolved:

It was agreed that complaints of labor discrimination presented through Panamanian channels to the Foreign Minister should be handled directly and informally through memorandum to one of General Brett’s aides. It was understood that in no case would the General permit a policy of discrimination of any kind against Panamanians to become apparent, if he could avoid it. The Foreign Minister said he appreciated this immensely. It was agreed that any publicity to be issued by the Army on labor practices would first be brought informally to the attention of the Foreign Office and that the Public Relations representative of the Foreign Office would consult with the Public Relations officer of the Panama Canal Department, at General Brett’s headquarters, before any further publicity or public notice was given regarding change of labor practice. This is in order to avoid any unnecessary comment or the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It was agreed further that in the event that the Foreign Minister and General Brett could not reach agreement through informal conversations on any points relating to labor practices that one or the other, or both, would bring such matters to my attention in the hopes that they could be resolved informally here in Panamá and not become the subject of formal dispute between the two Governments. Both the Foreign Minister and General Brett [Page 1449] professed the strongest intent to work cordially and frankly the one with the other, and both expressed their understanding of the necessity and responsibility that lies on each of them in terms of physical security of the Canal, its most efficient operation, and the moral obligation arising out of American and Panamanian relations always to follow the line of personal good will and cooperation in order to maintain understanding.

A. M. Warren
  1. Copy transmitted to Mr. Robert O. McGregor, Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs, by the Counselor of Embassy in Panama (Muccio) under covering letter of August 11, not printed.
  2. Col. Serafin M. Montesinos, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence Section, Caribbean Defense Command.