819.00/4–2748: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Panama


338. It is assumed that military authorities are in position to protect Canal Zone and safeguard Canal itself whatever internal situation may develop in Panama (urtel 329, Apr 27).

It would be difficult for US to maintain that Art X of 1936 treaty and paragraph 3 of notes exchanged by US and Panama on Feb 1, 1939 contemplated intervention in instance of internal unrest, however [Page 669] great, as distinct from external threat or aggression. Will be recalled that paragraph 3 of Art VII of Convention of 19031 giving US right and authority maintain public order in Panama was abrogated by Art VI paragraph 2 of treaty of 1936.

Armed intervention on part of US could have extremely serious repercussions throughout hemisphere and in effect jeopardize work of years in strengthening inter-American system.

In spite of above, if in opinion of Emb and Crittenberger some action on our part becomes essential, Dept should first be consulted. If impossible consult none but purely defensive measures should be taken. Subject reservation previous sentence Dept in complete accord paragraph 4 and 5 telegram under reference.2

  1. Department of State Treaty Series No. 431.
  2. In telegram War 80941, April 30, not printed, the text of this telegram (excepting the final sentence) was transmitted to General Crittenberger by the Director of Plans and Operations, General Staff, United States Army (General Wedemeyer). The last paragraph of War 80941 stated: “Dept Army emphasizes desirability of prior consultation with Dept of State should not however preclude your taking appropriate and timely defensive measures when in your opinion emergency so justifies” (819.00/4–3048). See memorandum of April 30 on this subject, p. 670.