500.C115 Mexico City/4–1346

Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Carribbean and Central American Affairs (Cochran)

Mr. Wiesman called early Saturday morning with regard to the developments in the ILO Conference at Mexico City, especially with regard to Panamanian charges of discrimination within the Canal Zone. He said that the Panamanians had originally presented a resolution two pages long citing all the alleged discriminations which have taken place for the last 40 years, which ended with a resolution calling for the intervention of the ILO. This, of course, is impracticable, as the Panamanian delegation now understands. Senator Chavez admitted that conditions in the Canal Zone were “terrible” before the statement of the Panamanian group had been translated or Mr. Wiesman knew what we were being charged with.

Under instructions from the Department, our delegation attempted to substitute another resolution couched in general terms, but after a two-hour session, this was found to be unacceptable to Panama. In consequence, the resolution was redrafted, more or less in the following terms:

“After consideration of the interesting exchange of ideas which has occurred within the Resolutions Committee with respect to the documents presented by the Panamanian delegation concerning discrimination in the Canal Zone, based on the gold roll and silver roll, we recommend that wherever allegations are made of discrimination in one country against the nationals of another, such as are involved [Page 45] in the present complaint of the Panamanian delegation, the member governments concerned establish joint commissions to study the facts and make recommendations.”

Mr. Wiesman pointed out that there was a good deal of sentiment toward strengthening the resolution by specifically naming the governments of the United States and Panama. He felt that if we did not at least go along some such action was inevitable. He consequently asked me to telephone him before 10:30 that same day, should we find the foregoing phraseology unacceptable and wish to make some minor changes. He said that the employers’ delegate from the United States was reasonably satisfied with the above wording and would probably vote for it. He said the Labor and workers delegates from this country were opposed and asked that a telegram be sent to reach the delegation by Monday morning, instructing the Government representative how to vote on this question. I told him that I could see no reason why we should support such a resolution. On the other hand, if our voting against it might result in action more embarrassing to us by the ILO Conference, I felt that the least we could do would be to abstain, but promised to convey his message to Mr. Mulliken of ILH, whom Mr. Wiesman had been attempting to reach by telephone since the afternoon before, without success.

I communicated the foregoing to Mr. Mulliken who agreed that the phraseology proposed was probably as little unfavorable as we could expect, and he said that he would send a telegram instructing our delegation how to vote on it.

W. P. C[ochran]