The Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs (Braden) to the Secretary of War (Patterson)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: The receipt is acknowledged of a memorandum dated 10 July 1946 addressed to Mr. Ellis O. Briggs,11 Director of American Republic Affairs by Colonel J. E. Bastion, Jr., (GSC) concerning the return to Panama of La Chorrera, La Joya and Madden airfields. The Department of State was requested to render an opinion as to the effect, if any, that the return of the three airfields [Page 1102]would have on future negotiations with the Republic of Panama for other military rights in that country.
In reply there is transmitted herewith a recent exchange of communications12 with the United States Ambassador at Panama relative to this matter. It will be noted that he recommends, with the concurrence of General Crittenberger, that there be returned promptly to Panama the sites under reference along with any others no longer required and which will not be requested of that Republic in connection with future military needs.
The Department fully supports the position taken by Ambassador Hines and is definitely of the opinion that the immediate relinquishment, in accordance with the spirit of the Defense Sites Agreement of May 18, 1942, of all areas now held but no longer required for military purposes would have a most salutary influence as regards future military and other requests of Panama by this Government. It is, therefore, urged as an act of good faith with the Government of Panama, and as a means of strengthening the position of the present Panamanian Administration as regards its ability to accede to future military needs which it is planned will be presented at one of the round table conferences currently being held between the Embassy and the Panamanian Foreign Office, that La Chorrera, La Joya and Madden airfields be returned to Panama immediately along with any other defense sites whose military purposes may be considered to have been fulfilled.