819.00/4–2648: Telegram

The Chargé in Panama (Hall) to the Secretary of State

secret   priority

321. Embassy anticipates receiving tomorrow from Governor Canal Zone,1 with approval of CominCarib,2 request that Panamanian Government [Page 667] be approached with view to its authorization of use of Canal Zone police in plainclothes for protection of new Cristobal district during coming elections.3

Request will be based on location within that area of large number of Americans essential for operation of Canal and who fear to leave their dependents during working hours with allegedly inadequate Panamanian police protection. There is also involved large amount of US Government owned housing, Washington Hotel, Cristobal High School, and Colon Hospital.

Despite chronic complaints of American dwellers this district has lately been receiving satisfactory police protection from Panama. But there is little doubt that the maintenance of this protection during elections cannot be counted on.

Appeal to Foreign Office might be made on basis of Article 10 of 1936 treaty.4 However, I gathered in brief conversation with Secretary Marshall twenty-third that we should by no means consider intervention of any kind unless warranted by circumstances and until we are satisfied Panamanian Government has exhausted all measures at its command. Request could also be made confidentially and informally and would probably be refused for political reasons and because of our recent refusal to sell armored cars to Panamanian Government. Even if refused, we might expect, as result of this representation, continued and perhaps improved protection by Panamanian police.

Please instruct urgently.

  1. Francis K. Newcomer.
  2. General Willis D. Crittenberger, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command.
  3. Presidential elections, May 9.
  4. For the general treaty of friendship and cooperation, signed at Washington March 2, 1936, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 945, or 53 Stat. 1807.