The Chargé in Panama (Blocker) to the Secretary of State
[Received 1:12 p.m.]
587. The following suggestion for solution of defense site problem was communicated secretly by President Jiménez to the Embassy through a well known third party. It is to be treated as off the record and confidential but authentic.
As an idea of a solution satisfactory to the United States and Panama, President Jiménez suggested that the United States take the following action: (he typed it personally on a piece of paper).
- The United States should declare that although it continues to hold the view that the time for the return of the bases in 1 year after [Page 1113] a definitive treaty of peace, in order to cooperate with Panama, it accepts the version of September 1946.
- The United States should announce that it is in the process of returning the bases within so many days (not to exceed 60). A civilian official of Panama would take nominal charge of the bases which have not been returned and fly the Panamanian flag, but in the meantime the bases would continue to be maintained by the military authorities of the United States.
- The United States should enter into immediate conversations (of a confidential nature) concerning the world situation and the necessity for the continued occupation of certain bases.
The Minister of Government and Justice last night informed Collins18 that the Government was fully aware that the United States needed bases in Panama but that some symbolic return of the bases would be necessary. Sucre19 was positive that the situation could be cleared up in a short time. At the same time former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Lewis, stated that the United States would have to consider Panama’s position with the other Latin American nations. All unofficial propositions so far seem to have emphasized the symbolic return without removal of troops or equipment merely as a means of face saving with special stress upon relations with other Latin American countries. The situation appears to me to be ripe now for some move on our part along these lines if Department is interested.
In view of current instructions, I wish to emphasize that neither Collins nor I have made any commitments whatsoever.