Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Wise)32

Subject: Chronology (October 11–21) on Development Defense Sites Issue in Panama

October 11—Foreign office delivered memorandum33 stating position Panamanian Government on current negotiations. President Jiménez informed the Embassy indirectly that if the memorandum was distasteful, Foreign Minister’s departure for UN should be awaited and discussions undertaken with Acting Foreign Minister Sucre (Minister of Government and Justice). Memorandum in substance stated:
Panama cannot negotiate any agreement until the U. S. commences effecting its occupation [evacuation?] on all remaining sites.
Panama would agree under joint control both Governments that radar, search light, and detector stations could continue functioning without interruption.
Panama not convinced that air fields in Panama now absolutely indispensable but would listen to technical information from Army.
New agreement could be reached on following basis:
Declaration that 1942 agreement is no longer in effect.
Remaining defense sites will be operated under joint control.
Terms of agreement will be temporarily renewable from year to year.
Rentals will not be less than those stipulated in 1942 agreement.
Two Governments jointly will maintain in good state of preservation for emergency use defense sites to be abandoned.
Panama will retain its sovereignty in defense areas and complete jurisdiction in civil matters with sole exception that U.S. will have jurisdiction over military personnel of U.S. within defense sites. Persons arrested outside areas would be turned over to Panama for trial and punishment.34
October 12—Ambassador Hines presented note giving U.S. interpretation termination close 1942 agreement.35
October 14—General Crittenberger with Ambassador Hines present Panama president and cabinet with technical data showing need for defense areas.
October 14—Foreign office replied to Ambassador’s note on “interpretation” in substance as follows:
Panama cannot accept U.S. interpretation and will not recede from its own.
On basis U.S. interpretation, it will be impossible for Panama to enter into discussions and into agreements regarding joint defense of Canal.
If by virtue U.S. interpretation occupation defense sites is continued, Panama will be forced, not being able to oppose material such occupation, to protest publicly.
Progress on new discussions and possible agreements can be attained only by the total return of sites still occupied.
October 15—Panamanian President publicly announced receipt U.S. “interpretation” note and stated his Government will not recede from its position.
October 16—Foreign Minister enplaned for UN saying he and President hoped for “symbolic” return all sites now occupied.
October 21—Acting Foreign Minister Sucre proposed joint statement by Governments explaining that technical studies show need for new defense sites agreement and that, accordingly, Panama requests U.S. to continue temporarily on all remaining sites for period not over three months during which new agreement will be drawn up.
  1. Addressed to the Acting Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Newbegin) and the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Briggs).
  2. Not printed.
  3. For documentation on the question of jurisdiction over American service personnel in criminal cases, see pp. 1232 ff.
  4. See telegram 530, October 10, 7 p.m., to Panama, p. 1122.