170. Telegram 69007 From the Department of State to the Embassies in Panama and Costa Rica1 2

[Page 1]


  • Panama and Costa Rica

1. Today we telephoned Roberto Aleman, Panamanian Ambassador to US, to ask for information about border problem between Panama and Costa Rica and to express hope that matter can be resolved bilaterally without going to OAS.

2. Aleman replied that Panamanian and Costa Rican Governments are taking steps to reach bilateral solution since both are agreed that this is much preferable to recourse to OAS.

3. According to Aleman, the Foreign Minister of El Salvador is in Panama today, after having visited Costa Rica, acting as a mediator to promote a bilateral solution.

4. Also, Aleman and Costa Rican Ambassador to US are in direct contact for the same purpose.

5. Aleman stated that on April 16, fifteen Panamanian guerrillas [Page 2] entered Panama from Costa Rica and went to a farm where they hanged two people.

6. The Government of Panama decided not formally to protest this incident after the Costa Rican Government gave renewed assurances that it would cooperate in stopping guerrilla activities.

7. On April 29, Aleman stated, Costa Rica accused the Panamanian National Guard of entering Costa Rica, seizing a Costa Rican national, and taking him to Panama. The Panamanian Foreign Minister informed Costa Rica that the Guard had not crossed the border. Instead, the Costa Rican national who was seized had been found in Panama in the company of a former Guard sergeant named Carrillos.

8. Costa Rica delivered a formal note of protest in Panama City yesterday and requested that the Costa Rican national be returned at once. On instructions from his Government the Costa Rican Ambassador also called on Aleman to make the same request and to ask for an “objective” Panamanian answer.

[Page 3]

9. Aleman told us that on April 30 there was shooting across the border both ways.

10. Aleman seemed confident that a bilateral solution to the present tension will be found and that it will not be necessary to go to the OAS.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 32–1 COSTA RICA–PAN. Confidential. Drafted on May 2 by Sanders (ARA/PAN); cleared by Breen and Ford; and approved by Sanders. It was repeated to USCINCSO.
  2. The Department of State reported on its May 2 conversation with Panamanian Ambassador Alemán regarding Costa Rican allegations that Panamanian National Guard forces had entered Costa Rican territory. Alemán, denied the allegations, but reported “shooting across the border both ways” on April 30 and indicated that a “bilateral solution” would be found.