The Ambassador in Panama (Hines) to the Secretary of State

No. 1646

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 171 of May 21, 1946 replying to this Embassy’s despatch No. 3055 of October 22, 1945, airgram No. A–1909 of December 4, 1945, despatch No. 969 of February 28, 1946, and despatch No. 1243 of April 1, 1946,64 concerning the collection by American consular officers of fees for consular services performed by them for the Panamanian Government.

The Department’s instructions No. 171 of May 21, 1946 and No. 704 of April 17, 194265 have been considered in the light of whether the refusal of collecting fees for consular services performed for the Panamanian Government, which after all are not an appreciable amount, would cause that Government embarrassment sufficient to look to some other government to perform Panamanian consular services in places where Panamá does not have consular representation. After careful thought, I am constrained to express the view that since Panamá is so close in its relations with the United States we should deviate, if possible, from the policy as set forth in the Department’s instruction No. 171 of May 21, 1946, particularly if the Foreign Office should, and I believe that it would do so, modify the Decree Law No. 28 of February 9, 1942 by inserting therein a clause specifically referring to American consular officers as not being honorary consular officers of Panamá but who perform services for Panamá as a courtesy of the United States Government in places where Panamá has no representation and such fees collected by American consular officers be accounted for through their government to Panamá.

While the above suggestion is not in line with the Department’s present policy I feel that special consideration should be given to consular representation for Panamá because it is a small country, not financially able to maintain a worldwide consular service, but at the same time so geographically situated here at the “Crossroads of the [Page 1146] Western Hemisphere” where its relations are so closely entwined with those of the United States as a result of the Panama Canal and the junction point of American-owned air lines plying between South America and the United States. It is, in reality, a junction point for all classes of traffic. In view of this situation we are placed in an entirely different position from that which exists with other countries desiring our consular services. Then, too, Panamá is overwhelmingly pro-American and looks upon us as a big brother, thus forming binding ties that naturally makes us a protector and thus obviously the rightful representative of their country when direct representation is lacking.

I therefore earnestly request reconsideration of the Department’s policy concerning the collection of consular fees in so far as it applies to Panamá, and respectfully request authority to discuss informally with the Foreign Office a means of modifying Panamanian Decree Law No. 28 to meet with our regulations in such a manner as to permit us to collect and remit fees for consular services performed for Panamá in places where Panamá does not have a consular representative. I may add in conclusion that in a personal and very informal conversation with a member of the Foreign Office it has been intimated that the Panamanian Decree referred to above would be changed to meet whatever requirements are necessary to comply with United States Foreign Service Regulations if we would agree to collect and remit fees for services performed for Panamá by our consular officers.

The Department’s early consideration and final decision would be appreciated.

Respectfully yours,

Frank T. Hines
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