711F.1914/11–745: Telegram

The Ambassador in Panama (Hines) to the Secretary of State

984. With reference to Embassy’s despatch No. 10, November 517 reporting text of three questions drafted by the Constitutional Assembly relating to status of defense sites leased by the United States in Panama, Dr. Ricardo J. Alfaro, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Dr. Octavio Fabrega, former Foreign Minister appeared before the Assembly on November 6 and read prepared replies to the questions.

Alfaro said that according to his interpretation of the defense sites agreement of 1942 the US Govt must return the defense sites to Panama not later than September 1, 1946 or exactly one year from the date of the signing of the surrender on board the Missouri.18 He added that it is the opinion of the executive power that the expression “shall terminate one year after the date on which the definitive treaty of peace which brings about the end of the present war shall have entered into effect” refers to “whatever pact, agreement, act or instrument entered into by the belligerent countries in accordance with which there is definitely terminated the hostilities inherent in the [Page 1237] state of war.” Therefore the Panamanian Executive considers that the conflict ceased with the unconditional surrender of Japan as represented by the document signed on board the Missouri on September 1, 1945. He added that “it would be erroneous to think of the final peace agreement as that which would be positively negotiated by the United Nations and the Axis whereby normal relations between the two groups of countries will be established. That interpretation would be absurd because such a peace treaty, if it were ever arrived at, would certainly not be negotiated until one or two, generations hence, etc. etc.” With reference to our right to extend, the Rio Hato runway across the Panamanian National Highway “for the period of the emergency only” Alfaro said that it would have been unfair to request the US Govt to remedy the situation immediately following the cessation of hostilities but that the Govt would shortly inform the US Govt of the expiration of the authority. The Minister pointed out that our Govt has already returned 60 of the 83 bases covered by the defense sites agreement “although some of the larger ones are still under US control” (Alfaro’s figures are incorrect).19 Detailed information regarding Alfaro’s and Fabrega’s statements will be forwarded by airmail.20

  1. Not printed.
  2. For documentation on the capitulation of Japan, see vol. vi, pp. 621 ff.
  3. With despatch 116, November 17, there was transmitted a tabulation of all defense sites abandoned up to October 15, 1945. The list included 61 sites completely abandoned and 9 sites partially abandoned. The tabulation gave the total rental for these sites paid to the Republic of Panama as $290,687.48 and the value of improvements left on the sites abandoned as $825,325.00. (711 F.1914/11–1745)
  4. Despatch 32, November 8, 1945, not printed.