Memorandum by the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs ( Briggs ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Acheson )

Executive Order 983092 published in the Federal Register on February 25, 1947 provided that citizens of the Republic of Panama might be admitted to examinations for employment by the Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad Company. This regulation went into effect on May 1.

As a result of hearings by the Senate and House Civil Service Committees the Attorney General has been requested to render an opinion whether this action was mandatory under provisions of our 1936 General Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Panama. The Justice Department has informally requested the Department’s views on that question.

One of the notes exchanged by the two Governments simultaneously with the signature of the Treaty, and regarded as an integral part thereof, commits this Government to maintain as our public policy the principle of equality of opportunity and treatment of Panamanian citizens in employment in the Panama Canal and Railroad. This Government is further committed to take such measures as may be necessary to put this into effect.

The Department therefore believes that this Government is specifically committed to admit Panamanian citizens to Civil Service examinations for Canal and Railroad positions. It was the intent of the parties negotiating the 1936 Treaty that the words “equality of opportunity and treatment” should mean exactly that.

The attached letter to the Attorney General93 emphasizes that the Department considers the recent action of the Civil Service Commission [Page 958] to have been necessary to fulfill this Government’s obligation and to be in accord with our established national policy.

  1. 12 Federal Register 1259.
  2. Infra.