Memorandum by the Panamanian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Jimenez) to the Secretary of State 71


The Republic of Panama, desiring to take advantage of the great possibilities that its exceptional geographic position offers for the development of commercial aviation, has begun the work of construction of a modern airport in the vicinity of the city of Panama.

Sufficiently approximate calculations indicate that the cost of such airport will be $6,000,000.

It is to be hoped that as soon as this work is finished the Government of the United States of America will suspend commercial traffic in the territory of the Canal Zone, in conformity with the provisions of the treaty of November 18, 190372 and March 2, 1936,73 the latter of which established that with exception of activities referring to the construction, protection, maintenance, sanitation and defense of the Panama Canal the United States of America, “will not permit the establishment in the Canal Zone of private business enterprises other than those existing therein at the time of the signature of this treaty”. It should be observed, for example, that the Albrook Field Airport was opened to commercial aviation subsequent to the signature of the [Page 1257] Treaty of 1936 and only as an emergency measure because the Republic of Panama was not in a position to offer the necessary accommodations.

The certainty cherished by the Government of Panama that the airports of the Canal Zone will be closed to commercial traffic upon the termination of the new Panamanian airport is based on the fact that the United States has always faithfully carried out its contractual obligations and also on the correspondence exchanged between the Embassy of Panama in Washington and the Department of State in the months of August and October, 1942, in which notes74 it was stated that the building which was then being constructed on Albrook Field—today used for, commercial aviation—had as its final purpose a military necessity and not the definitive implantation of civil aviation in the Canal Zone.

The Republic of Panama considers that the development of commercial aviation in territory under its jurisdiction is of vital importance for its economic, social and political development. Nevertheless, it does not lose from view the immense importance which aviation in the Republic has for the purpose of defense and protection of the Canal and accordingly it would be prepared to conclude an agreement with the United States of America whereby aviation in Panama in time of war would be regulated by a mixed commission appointed by the President of Panama which would consist of Panamanian officials and American officials—the latter being suggested by the United States Government—and in time of peace by a different system which would guarantee fully the security of the Canal and the unquestionable right of Panama to regulate aviation in its own territory.

  1. Handed to the Secretary in Mexico City where he and the Panamanian Foreign Minister represented their respective countries at the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1904, p. 543; Department of State Treaty Series No. 431.
  3. Department of State Treaty Series No. 945; 53 Stat. (pt. 3) 1807.
  4. For texts of note from the Panamanian Ambassador of August 4, 1942, and the reply from the Secretary of State of October 28, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 627 and 633, respectively.