The Acting Secretary of State to the Panama Ambassador (Davis)


No. 4

Sir: Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch No. 731 of December 13, 19481 and to previous correspondence, concerning the responsibility of the United States in connection with the maintenance of highways within the Republic of Panama.

There are enclosed for the Embassy’s information copies of letters being addressed by the Department to the Department of the Army and to the Federal Works Agency.1

In order to formalize some definite plan for the future long-term maintenance of the Trans-Isthmian Highway within the Republic of Panama, the Embassy is requested to approach the appropriate [Page 705] Panamanian authorities, at such time as it may consider opportune, with a view to re-negotiating the pertinent provisions in Point 5 of the General Relations Agreement of May 18, 19422 and the pertinent provisions in Articles II and VI of the Trans-Isthmian Highway Convention of March 2, 1936.3 The proposed agreement should provide:

That the United States Government will assume the responsibility for the long-term maintenance, at its expense, of the entire Trans-Isthmian Highway.
That the Government of Panama assume the responsibility for the maintenance on and after January 1, 1948, at its expense, of all other roads within the Republic of Panama which are, or may be, used by the armed forces of the United States; and that Panama will continue to make such roads available for the free use of our armed forces.
That the Government of Panama will assume the responsibility to prevent any encroachments on the Trans-Isthmian right-of-way, which might interfere in any way with the proper maintenance of the Highway.
That each government will maintain in a usable condition the roads which are its maintenance responsibility as outlined above; but that, upon failure to do so, the other government will have the right to make essential repairs, charging the cost thereof to the government failing to perform the maintenance in question.

The Embassy is requested to inform the Department of the Panamanian reaction to this proposal. Any discussions which are initiated should be with a view to the conclusion of a convention (treaty), embodying the above-mentioned points, which would be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate and to ratification by the President. It is noted from the despatch under reference that the modifications of the Agreement and Convention would require approval by the Panamanian National Assembly. In view of the fact that the present session of that Assembly is expected to terminate early in February, it is desirable that, if practicable, negotiations be undertaken at an early date.

When a tentative draft treaty has been drawn up, in consultation with Panamanian authorities, it should be forwarded to the Department for study and final instructions. At such time as it is possible to give authorization to proceed with signature, a Full Power signed by the President will be obtained and sent to the Embassy.

Very truly yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For the General Relations Agreement, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series (EAS) No. 452, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1289. For pertinent documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 577 ff.
  4. For text, see Department of State Treaty Series (TS) No. 946, or 53 Stat. (pt. 3) 1869.