819.5034/6–545: Telegram

The Chargé in Panama ( Donnelly ) to the Secretary of State


542. President de la Guardia invited me to call on him on June 4 to review matters pending between the two Govts prior to his leaving [Page 1270] office. He voluntarily referred to the Nationalization of Commerce Act and emphasized the importance of an early agreement between the two Govts so that American businessmen might enjoy the same privileges as Panamanian businessmen. He expressed the belief that the Constitutional Assembly will not accept articles 218 and 219 of the proposed constitution without amendments, or that it might reject them altogether and instead approve articles providing that (1) the regulation of commerce should be subject to separate legislation and (2) calling upon the Govt to conclude commercial treaties. The President suggested the desirability of the Govts of the US and Panama agreeing upon a formula for the protection of American business interests before the Assembly has time to consider the commercial provisions of the proposed constitution. He proposed that it take the form of an Emb aide-mémoire to the Foreign Office referring to the Embs aide-mémoire of March 15 and the FO’s reply of April 20, 1945,5 stating that the US Govt is interested in negotiating a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation with the Govt of Panama and that it would be prepared to initiate conversations at a later date with the Govt of Panama for a commercial treaty.

I told the President that while I was confident the Dept would agree to negotiate a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation, I could not express an opinion with respect to a commercial treaty but that I could say that our Govt would not agree to negotiate the treaties simultaneously; that the treaty of friendship, etc., should come first and that its acceptance should not be conditioned upon the consummation of a commercial treaty. I informed the President that I would advise the Dept of his suggestions and request the Dept’s views.

The President said that if our Govt approved the procedure he would, upon receipt of the aide-mémoire, refer the plan to his Cabinet and if they approved it arrangements could be made immediately for an exchange of notes confirming the intention of the two Govts to negotiate a treaty of friendship, etc., and at the same time the two Govts would exchange letter[s] indicating their intention of initiating conversations for a commercial treaty. The President said the exchange of notes and letters could be effected before he leaves office on June 15 and that although the negotiation of the treaty of friendship, etc., would be conducted by the new Govt, the exchange of notes would be binding on it and would minimize the possibility of the adoption of articles 218 and 219 by the Constitutional Assembly.

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  1. Neither printed.