819.00/1–1945: Telegram

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

60. The Foreign Minister30 requested me to see him this morning. He wished to talk about the matters mentioned in the last paragraph of my telegram No. 58, January 19, 10 a.m.31 I had just come from an interview with Governor Mehaffey during which the Governor mentioned his preoccupation about the continued residence in the Tivoli of the group of opposition deputies and other Panamanians.

The Foreign Minister stated that he was speaking informally and not making an official request. He said that he understood the opposition intended to send a spokesman to the Embassy to denounce the De La Guardia Government.

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He stated that it must be difficult and embarrassing to American officials to have the opposition group resident in the Canal Zone and he wondered how much longer rooms would be available at the Tivoli.

I then explained the Embassy’s attitude as set forth in the last paragraph of my telegram 58. The Foreign Minister said that the Panamanian Government appreciated this point of view. As concerns continued residence at the Tivoli I told the Minister that I had just discussed the question in general with Governor Mehaffey, that the latter would be in Washington next Monday and could discuss it further at the Department, but that in the meantime it seemed desirable to avoid any precipitate action that might aggravate the political situation. I promised to telegraph the Department and to let the Minister have any comment which Washington might make either before or after conferring with Governor Mehaffey when the latter reaches Washington. The Minister again expressed his appreciation.

I believe that Governor Mehaffey agrees with me that it would be desirable if some means could be found in the comparatively near future to inform the group at the Tivoli that accommodations no longer are available. The Foreign Minister told me this morning that warrants for the arrest of Deputy Vega32 and four others who are not deputies have been issued by the District Attorney on criminal charges. I reminded the Minister of the talk which Ambassador Warren33 had had with President De la Guardia. The Minister stated categorically that the Government was not taking any political action against the group now at the Tivoli and emphasized that the charges against Vega and the four others are criminal charges. He stated that these charges still are under investigation and that no final decision has been taken although the warrants of arrest do exist. He stated that there is absolutely no reason why Duncan34 and the others could not return to Panama without danger of action against them on the part of the Government.

Governor Mehaffey has been informed of the foregoing.

As I left the Foreign Minister’s office I met former Foreign Minister Lewis. He apparently is being consulted on foreign affairs and I believe he still is supporting the De la Guardia Government. He told Governor Mehaffey last night that if Ambassador Jimenez35 resigns he Lewis still is on the list as possible Ambassador to the United States.

Butler
  1. Roberto Jimenez.
  2. Not printed; the Chargé indicated in this telegram that the Embassy would receive any Panamanian in his private capacity, but those holding official positions would be received only through the Foreign Office (819.00/1–1945).
  3. Simon Vega, deputy in the Panamanian legislature.
  4. Avra M. Warren, formerly Ambassador to Panama, was now Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.
  5. Jeptha Duncan, First Designate to the Presidency, and head of the opposition group in the Tivoli Hotel.
  6. Enrique A. Jimenez, Panamanian Ambassador to the United States.