Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Cochran)

Participants: Samuel Lewis, Ambassador of Panama
Pedro Galindo, of the Panamanian Embassy
CCA—Mr. Cochran
CCA—Mr. Wilson

It was explained to the Ambassador that CCA wished to take this opportunity to go over all pending problems with Panama, beginning with our commitments under the Twelve Points Agreement of May 18, 1942.58

Mr. Cochran first reviewed, in connection with the Twelve Points Agreement, matters which have been completed or upon which no further action is required at this time. Mr. Cochran pointed out, and Ambassador Lewis agreed, that matters under this heading included:

  • Return of Railroad property and lots (completed);
  • Smuggling from commissaries (no recent complaint);
  • Completion of Trans-Isthmian, Rio Hato and A–3 Highways;
  • Police should carry only billies (no problem);
  • Electric current for Madden Dam (no problem);
  • Cost of Rio Hato highway (completed);
  • Indemnity for traffic interruptions on highway (no problem);
    • Type of labor which should be imported into the Canal Zone. (The Ambassador indicated that there was no current problem, but mentioned his recent conversations with Governor Mehaffey59 regarding transfers of Panamanians from silver to gold rolls.)

The Ambassador agreed that nothing could be done during the war under the Twelve Points Agreement in regard to the construction of a tunnel or a bridge at Balboa, the moving of the railway station at Panama City, or the construction of an oil pipe line from Balboa to the Canal Zone boundary.

Ambassador Lewis was reminded that the transfer of the water works and sewerage facilities at Panama was still awaiting Panama’s approval of the text of

The Transfer Agreement
The Operating Agreement

[Page 1253]

It was pointed out that this was the only important matter which could be completed in the immediate future, if the Panamanian Government found it convenient to do so.

Next, Mr. Cochran reviewed the subjects which had been raised by Ambassador Lewis when he visited Washington as Foreign Minister in December, 1944. It was pointed out that Panama was receiving special facilities to obtain materials for the slum clearance project; that the United States had obtained the services of Mr. Arneson,60 who is already in Panama, to act as architect on the foregoing project; that Mr. Tiere61 and Mr. Crane of the Federal Housing Administration had been aiding Panama from time to time with their advice; and that the cement plant project application had been approved by WPB.62 The United States had also detailed a statistician to Panama, Sidney W. Wilcox, to act as Director General of Statistics, as promised.

In regard to other matters which Ambassador Lewis had raised in December, it was pointed out to him, and he agreed, that the transfer of Paitilla Point must await a general study of the disposition of defense sites63 which is now being undertaken by General Brett; that it was not possible during the war to justify priorities for materials for construction of the commercial airport of Panama, as explained last December, although Panama is in fact obtaining many materials under general license or Panamanian quotas; and that the United States can not, on the ground of military necessity, justify the facilitation of the supply of materials to construct a tuberculosis hospital, although any requests of course would be given sympathetic consideration. No lists of material needed have been received.

[Here follows record of discussion concerning a sewage disposal project, water supply, freight rates, highway development, and other matters.]

W[illiam] P. C[ochran]
  1. Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 452; 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1289. For documentation on the negotiation of this agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 577 ff.
  2. Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Mehaffey, Governor of the Panama Canal.
  3. Stephen V. Arneson, City Planning Expert.
  4. Presumably John L. Tierney.
  5. War Production Board.
  6. For documentation on the status of the defense sites, see pp. 1231 ff.