409. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Meeting Between the President and President Chiari of Panama at San Jose, Costa Rica2

PARTICIPANTS:

  • U.S.
    • The President
  • Panama
    • President Roberto F. Chiari

There follows the pertinent portions of a Memorandum for the Record dated March 26, 1963 and prepared by Ambassador Farland:

“MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD

FROM

  • Joseph S. Farland, American Ambassador, Panama

SUBJECT

  • Re Conversation Between President Kennedy and President Chiari at San Jose and Subsequent Developments Appertaining Thereto
[Page 845]

During the initial conferences at San Jose President Chiari indicated that he was desirous of having a private conversation with President Kennedy. This request was honored and President Kennedy and President Chiari met alone at the temporary White House (Embassy Residence San Jose) at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. The conversation lasted for approximately 30 minutes.

After the President concluded the conversation with President Chiari and farewells were exchanged, he asked me to return with him to the conference room where we were joined by Secretary Rusk, Assistant Secretary Martin and Mr. Ralph Dungan. There ensued a brief discussion during which the President asked numerous questions pertaining to political, economic and social conditions in Panama. The President also directed his attention to the present financial and economic benefits to Panama ensuing from the Canal, and indicated his preoccupation with the problem posed by the current payment by the United States to Panama of $1,930,000.00 as annuity. This discussion was concluded after the President directed me to return to Washington during the latter part of the month of April for consultation on the question of U.S.-Panamanian relations. In this connection the President asked that I meet with as many Congressmen as possible for the purpose of sounding congressional opinion regarding the problems posed by the Government of Panama. The President also requested that thereafter I meet with him to discuss U.S. policy as related thereto.

During the public exchange of ‘farewells’ at the airport Secretary Rusk indicated to me that the President had requested him to give particular attention to Panama. In this connection the Secretary expressed his concern lest President Chiari in his public statements upon returning to Panama jeopardize the effort of the Executive Branch to view sympathetically Panama’s aspirations. I later spoke with Foreign Minister Solís, Ambassador Arango and other Panamanians to emphasize the importance of Chiari handling with restraint and discretion his public account of his conversation with President Kennedy. In a brief conversation with President Chiari, I said that I was encouraged by the direction Panama’s problems had taken and received his assent to my proposal that I call upon him immediately upon his return to Panama.

On Friday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m. accompanied by Mr. V. Lansing Collins, Director Office of Central American and Panamanian Affairs, I met with President Chiari and Foreign Minister Solís at the Presidencia for the purpose of discussing the program for Panama as set forth in [Page 846]CAM/B-6a of March 13, 1963.3 This conversation ensued for an hour and a half and ended on a constructive note with President Chiari indicating that his report to the Panamanian people on the developments ensuing from the San Jose Conference would be moderate and judicious and would not be used as a vehicle for local political advantage. This conversation will be the subject of a separate memorandum.”4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 COSTA RICA. Secret. Filed with an April 2 covering memorandum from Department of State Executive Secretary William H. Brubeck to McGeorge Bundy. Drafted by McManus, approved in S on April 2 and in the White House on April 4.
  2. President Kennedy met with the Presidents of Central America and Panama in San Jose, Costa Rica, March 18-20; see Documents 58 ff.
  3. Reference is to a talking paper prepared in the Department of State for Kennedy’s meeting with Chiari. It stated that the United States was prepared to consider financial assistance for further acceleration of Panama’s industrial development and to propose a major new program in rural development to support Panamanian efforts at agrarian reform. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2228)
  4. Not found.