The Ambassador in Panama (Warren) to Mr. Robert G. McGregor, Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs

Dear Bob: With further reference to John Muccio’s letter to you of August 1162 transmitting memorandum of conversation between the Foreign Minister, General Brett and myself on August 11,63 I want you to know that the sick and simple leave regulations governing foreign employees of the Panama Air Depot, which is a subsidiary organization of the Panama Canal Department, were issued yesterday—to take effect today. My confidential despatch No. 218 of today’s [Page 1450] date63a transmits clippings on this matter. These regulations are those agreed upon as being fair and equitable in the conversations held last Friday between the Foreign Minister, General Brett and myself. The publication of the notice in last night’s and this morning’s paper has thus far drawn no editorial comment because such political advantage as was obtainable from the situation was utilized by the Panamanian Government over the weekend and has already been reported. There are, however, two points that I think I should bring to your attention informally because they will be the subject of formal reporting as soon as they have been factually established. One is that permission has been given to “The Society of Latin American Members of the Panama Air Depot” to hold an indoor meeting tonight in one of the public schools to discuss—according to the announcement in the press today—the effect of the newly proclaimed simple and sick leave regulations on “Latin American” employees of the Panama Air Depot.

The second point is that General Brett sent directly by air today to the War Department Brigadier General George H. Lundberg, Commanding Sixth Air Force Service Command, for the purpose of recruiting from discharged and preferably disabled veterans of World War II technical personnel to be offered jobs in the Panama Air Depot, in accordance with President Roosevelt’s expressed desire to provide employment when available to this group of citizens.

General Brett has given no publicity to this mission of General Lundberg. He did tell me, however, that the Panama Air Depot is a project very close to his heart. When he came here to take up his present command about two years ago he said he hoped to set up in Panamá a base depot organized along the lines of the large depot in Bangalore, Central India, and that he had given the project his close personal attention. His idea was to recruit and train as technicians Panamanian citizens who might be incorporated in the permanent payroll as an enduring element in the establishment under the supervision of American specialists. The General said that his regret is keen because of the continuing and progressive evidence he has seen (1), of the inability of Panamanians to qualify as technicians and (2), the disposition to make political issues out of situations that develop from time to time in the training program. His present disposition is to recruit World War veterans—American and Panamanian—where he can find them to the exclusion of civilian employees employed locally and now on the payrolls on a temporary basis. In my conversation with the General I gathered that he is well aware of the implications of this policy. Of course the change in employment conditions will depend upon the supply of veterans that may be recruited. I understand that General Brett has asked the appropriate officers in [Page 1451] the Pentagon Building to give General Lundberg facilities right across the continent.

Meanwhile, I shall continue to watch this labor situation as it develops. But I do want you to know that as I see it it is not in my hands nor as it may possibly develop can it be kept in the Department’s hands. The question as it will be presented is what is the guarantee of equality of treatment in the “Zone” worth in terms of discharged American and Panamanian veterans of World War II who may apply for technical jobs here?

Yours sincerely,

A. M. Warren
  1. Not printed.
  2. Ante, p. 1448.
  3. Not printed.