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ama to Bogotá. It will be easy to establish that the Department of Panama is the creditor of Colombia and not its debtor and that, therefore, it does not owe to Colombia anything neither for its external debt nor from any other cause.
This would have been a substantial and legal ground for nonassumption of any part of the Colombian debt, but, as I had the honor of stating to you, the Government of the Republic has felt itself bound to justify, not by arguments, but by facts, the testimony of confidence, esteem, and good will which have come from all the governments of the greatest nations of earth since the recent date of its birth. I am, sir, with great respect, your very obedient servant,
P. BUNAU-VARILLA. His Excellency John Hay,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WITH COLOMBIA AND THE
REPUBLIC OF PANAMA.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TRANSMITTING A
REPORT FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE COVERING COPIES OF ADDITIONAL PAPERS BEARING UPON THE RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WITH COLOMBIA AND THE REPUBLIC OF PANAMA.
To the Senate and House of Representatives :
I transmit herewith for the information of the Congress a report from the Secretary of State covering copies of additional papers bearing upon the relations of the United States with Colombia and the Republic of Panama.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. WHITE House, January 18, 1904.
In continuation of the papers previously submitted, the undersigned Secretary of State has the honor to lay before the President additional correspondence touching the relations of the United States with Colombia and Panama. Respectfully submitted.
John Hay. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, January 16, 1904.
General Reyes to Mr. Hay.
LEGATION OF COLOMBIA ON SPECIAL MISSION,
Washington, December 23, 1903. Most EXCELLENT SIR: I have the honor to append to this note a statement of grievances that Colombia wishes to submit to the consideration of your excellency. Its presentation was deferred by reason of the condition of your excellency's health, and I beg that you will put off the consideration of this note until your excellency may be able to give your personal attention to its examination.
If, after so doing, your excellency should wish to have an interview with me, I shall have the honor of calling on you at such place and time as your excellency may be pleased to designate.
With sentiments of the highest consideration and regard, I have the honor to subscribe myself your excellency's very obedient and faithful servant,
RAFAEL REYES. Hon. John Hay,
Secretary of State.
General Reyes to Mr. Hay.
Washington, December 23, 1903. Most EXCELLENT SIR: The Government and people of Colombia consider themselves aggrieved by that of the United States in that they are convinced that the course followed by its administration, in relation to the events that have developed and recently been accomplished at Panama, have worked deep injury to their interests.
If the matter were one of little importance, even though right were wholly on its side, my Government would not hesitate in yielding some of its advantages out of regard for the friendly relations which have happily existed without interruption between the two countries. But as the facts that have taken place affect not only valuable and valued interests, but also the independence and sovereignty of Colombia, my Government deems it its duty to remind that of the United States of the stipulation contained in section 5 of article 35 of the treaty of 1846, in force between the two countries, which reads word for word as follows:
If, unfortunately, any of the articles contained in this treaty should be violated or infringed in any way whatever, it is expressly stipulated that neither of the two contracting parties shall ordain or authorize any acts of reprisal, nor shall declare war against the other in complaints of injuries or damages, until the said party considering itself offended shall have laid before the other a statement of such injuries or damages, verified by competent proofs, demanding justice and satisfaction, and the same shall have been denied, in violation of the laws and of international right.
On formulating the statement of injuries and damages,” referred to in the quoted abstract, there is nothing as natural or just as to recall to mind that in the treaty concluded on the 22d of January of this year between your excellency and the chargé d'affaires of Colombia, Señor Doctor Tomás Herrera, there appears the following stipulation:
The convention when signed by the contracting parties shall be ratified in conformity with the laws of the respective countries, etc.
This condition, which rests at once on a correct conception of the doctrine accepted in such matters by nearly all the constitutional countries in the world, could not be foregone by Mr. Herran, since under our constitution and laws it is for the Congress to approve or disapprove the treaties signed by the Government, so that the said treaties are not valid unless the requirement has been observed, and as it likewise happens that under the law of nations covenants entered into with any authority that may not be competent are null, it is evident that no Colombian representative in the absence of a preexisting law conferring such authority could bave signed the said convention without the above-quoted reservation. Furthermore, this formality was at the outset admitted by the American Government in the course of the negotiations that preceded the Hay-Herran convention, as shown in articles 25, 26, and 28 of the “Draft of convention" submitted by the American Administration and dated November 28, 1902. Article 25 says, textually, that the convention will be exchanged after approval by the legislative bodies of both countries."
The Hay-Herran convention did not take in Washington a course different from that it took at Bogotá. The parliamentary debate that took place in the Senate was so full and earnest that it was not approved until the following extraordinary sessions. And if it had been rejected the disapproval would have involved no grievance for Colombia, for if the mere entering upon negotiations for a convention implied the obligatory approval of the legislative body it would be superfluous to submit it to its decision. Among the precedents of international usage that could be mentioned in this respect there may be cited the case that occurred between the same United States of America and Her Britannic Majesty, when, after the signing of the treaty intended to abrogate the convention known as the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, England, as I understand it, declined to accept the amendment introduced by the Senate, and her refusal delayed for some time the approval and ratification of the treaty.
It follows that the Congress of Colombia, which is vested, according to our laws, with the faculty or power to approve or disapprove the treaties concluded by the Government, exercised a perfect right when it disapproved the Hay-Herran convention. This course did not disqualify the Government for the conclusion of another treaty with the Government of your excellency; and it indeed resolved to make a proposition to that effect, and Mr. Herran, whom our minister for foreign affairs intrusted with that duty by cable, had the honor of bringing this purpose to your excellency's knowledge. Neither did that course imply any slight toward the Government of the United States, and, on the contrary, the Senate, observant of the existing friendly relations, relied on the sentiments of American fraternity, by which it is animated, for the introduction in the new agreement that was to be made of stipulations more consonant with the notion of sovereignty entertained by the people of Colombia.
It is proper to observe that under our constitution the Congress is the principal guardian, defender, and interpreter of our laws. And it can not be denied by anyone, I take it, that the Hay-Herran convention provides for the execution of public works on a vast scale and for the occupancy in perpetuity of a portion of the territory of Colombia, the occupant being not a juridical person whose acts were to be governed by the civil law and the Colombian code, but rather a soyereign political entity, all of which would have given occasion for frequent conflicts, since there would have been a coexistence in Panama of two public powers, the one national, the other foreign.
Hence the earnest efforts evinced by the Senate in ascertaining whether the American Government would agree to accept certain amendments tending especially to avoid as far as practicable any
restriction in the treaty of the jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory. There is abundant evidence of the efforts of the Senate in that direction, and I firmly believe that it would have approved the convention with amendments that would probably have been acceptable to the United States had not the American minister at Bogotá repeatedly declared in the most positive manner that his Government would reject any amendment that might be offered.
In a note dated April 24 last he made the following statement to the minister of foreign relations:
With reference to the interview I had with your excellency at which were discussed the negotiations for the annulment of the present concessions of the Panama Canal and railroad companies and other matters I have the honor to inform your excellency that I have received instructions from my Government in that respect.
I am directed to inform your excellency, if the point should be raised, that every thing relative to this matter is included in the convention recently signed between Colombia and the United States on the 22d of January last, and that, furthermore, any modification would be violative of the Spooner Act, and therefore inadmissible.
The memorandum handed by the same minister to the minister of foreign relations on the 13th of June of this year reads as follows:
I have received instructions from my Government by cable in the sense that the Government of Colombia to all appearances does not appreciate the gravity of the situation. The Panama Canal negotiations were initiated by Colombia and were earnestly solicited of my Government for several years. The propositions presented by Colombia with slight alterations were finally accepted by us. By virtue of this agreement our Congress reconsidered its previous decision and decided in favor of the Panama route. If Colombia now rejects the treaty or unduly delays its ratification the friendly relations between the two countries would be so seriously compromised that our Congress might next winter take steps that every friend of Colombia would regret with sorrow.
In his note of the 5th of August of this year he says this, among other things:
It seems to me that the commission (referring to the Senate commission) has not been sufficiently informed of the contents of my notes of April 24 and June 10, [sic] 1903, or that it has not given them the importance they merit, as being the final expression of the opinion or intentions of my Government. They clearly show that the amendment the commission proposes to introduce in article 1 is, by itself, equivalent to an absolute rejection of the treaty. I deem it my duty to repeat the opinion I already expressed to your excellency that my Government will not consider or discuss such an amendment in any way. There is another important amendment that the commission believes should be introduced in article 3, consisting in the suppression of the tribunals therein dealt with. I consider it my duty again to state my opinion that this will also in no wise be accepted by my Government.
And further, in the same note, he adds: I avail myself of this opportunity respectfully to repeat that which I already stated to your excellency, that if Colombia truly desires to maintain the friendly relations that at present exist between two countries, and at the same time secure for herself the extraordinary advantages that are to be produced for her by the construction of the canal in her territory, in case of its being backed by so intimate an alliance of national interests as that which would supervene with the United States, the present treaty will have to be ratified exactly in its present form without amendment whatsoever I say this because I am profoundly convinced that my Government will not in any case accept amendments.
The Congress being unable to accept in its actual wording at least one of the stipulations contained in the treaty, because inhibited from doing so by the constitution, no one will wonder that under the pressure of threats so serious and irritating and in presence of a formal notification from the party which had authority to serve it that no amendment would be accepted, preference was given to disapproval.
The integrity of any nation [said Mr. William H. Seward] is lost, and its fate becomes doubtful, whenever strange hands, and instruments unknown to the constitution, are employed to perform the proper functions of the people, established by the organic law of the state.
Before dismissing this point, it is proper to observe, in accordance with article 4 of the Spooner Act:
SEC. 4. That should the President be unable to obtain for the United States a satisfactory title to the property of the New Panama Canal Company and the controj of the necessary territory of the Republic of Colombia and the rights mentioned in sections 1 and 2 of this act, within a reasonable time and upon reasonable terms, then the President, having first obtained for the United States perpetual control by treaty of the necessary territory from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, upon terms which he may consider reasonable, for the construction, perpetual maintenance, operation, and protection of a canal connecting the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean by what is commonly known as the Nicaragua route, shall, through the said Isthmian Canal Commission, cause to be excavated and constructed a ship canal and waterway from a point on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, near Greytown, by way of Lake Nicaragua, to a point near Brito, on the Pacific Ocean.
This act, on account of its having served as the basis of the treaty draft on the part of the United States, as stated in the preamble, which adds that it is accompanied by a copy of the act, had for Colombia exceptional importance. For it is so imperative that it seems to leave no faculty other than that of selecting one of the two routes, Panama or Nicaragua, and therefore it was to be presumed that the action of the American Government could not overstep the limits therein fixed. Whence it follows that the sole evil that could befall Colombia if her Congress should disapprove the treaty was that the route eventually selected would be that of Nicaragua. It may be that we fell in error when we entertained that belief, but it was sincere, and we were led into it by the profound respect with which the American laws inspire us.
All governments being, as is well known, bound to respect the rights born of the independence and sovereignty of nations, the premature recognition by the United States of the province of Panama, rising in arms to detach itself from the country of which it is a part, while it is a matter of public knowledge that the mother country commands sufficient forces to subdue it, constitutes, according to the most ancient and modern authorities on international law, not only a grave offense to Colombia, but also a formal attack upon her wealth.
For, as the territory forms the most important part of the national wealth, its dismemberment impairs the revenues applied to the discharge of corporate obligations, among which are foreign debts and those enterprises entailed on the insurgent province, from which Colombia derives a considerable income.
If there be an end and eternal and immutable principles in right, that right of Colombia has been injured by the United States by an incredible transgression of the limits set by equity and justice.
Before the coup de main which proclaimed the independence of the Isthmus took place at Panama, there were in this very city agents of the authors of that coup in conference with high personages clothed with official character, as is asserted by reputable American newspapers. I have received information to the effect that a bank in New
a See p. 109, F. R., 1861, Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams. — Translator.