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Colombia has never made a treaty with any other nation upon the subject of an isthmian canal, altough it was at liberty to do so.
These treaty ties cementing their joint design for the construction of a new highway for the world have held the two nations together in common interests and unbroken friendship for more than half a century.
By granting the concessions now owned by the New Panama Canal Company, and by furthering the construction of the canal to its present advanced stage of completion by the old and new Panama Canal companies, Colombia initiated the great work which now, happily, the United States may consummate.
While the minister of Colombia was in Washington for more than a year waiting for the moment when the subject could be seriously and attentively discussed, it is only since January 4, 1902, that anything could be definitely said or done, since then, and then only, was a detinite proposal of sale made by the canal company. Immediately thereupon, however, the Government of Colombia, requiring the service of its then minister in other important fields, designated its minister of war, Señor Concha, as minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary, to come at once from Bogota to Washington, charged with its ripest views and amplest instructions, to confer with the Executive authorities of the United States, and, after exchange of information and opinions, to reach a satisfactory convention.
Minister Concha has devoted himself, since his arrival a few weeks ago, absorbingly to this task and is prepared to reach a conclusion with the Executive officers of the Government.
He is fully empowered to negotiate and sign a treaty, subject only to the ratification of the Colombian Congress, as in like cases with all nations.
But Colombia is in the dark as to the precise desires and needs of the United States upon the subject, and Minister Concha can not, of course, anticipate in his first statement all the reasonable requirements of this Government. He wishes, however, to manifest in the most hearty manner the desire of his Government to facilitate the purposes of the United States, and this disposition is manifested by the comprehensive convention which he has this day submitted to you, but not as an ultimatum. The establishment of a canal convention involves, as you are so well aware, besides the utilization of a canal zone for the construction, operation, maintenance, control, and protection of a canal, railroad, and auxiliary works, as well as a grant renewable perpetually and a consent to the sale by the New Panama Canal Company all of which Colombia concedes in the convention submitted), but also numerous other grave questions relating to judicial procedure, punishment of crimes, the capture of criminals, sanitary and police regulations of Panama and Colon, proper regard to the vested interests upon the Isthmus, exemption of the United States from all forms of taxes, port charges, or other dues, etc. Quite aside from pecuniary matters, these are subjects which only can be examined and negotiated directly with you in person and are impossible of negotiation with the Houses of Congress.
Permit me to call attention to the facts that a canal convention in respect of the Isthmus of Panama necessarily involves considerations which do not relate to a section where there is but a wilderness, uninhabited by man, and producing no income to the nation. The conven
tion respecting the Panama route covers a zone which has been the pathway of commerce across the continent for four hundred years, with important cities at its termini, with villages along the route, with å settled population, with considerable property, and with important vested interests to be taken into consideration.
All this represents an increment of value in civilizing influences, in means of protection, in expenditures of national funds for improvement and development, as well as in certitude of engineering plans, of all which the United States now may derive the benefit.
It would be neither in order nor fitting for the canal company or myself to express any views, one way or the other, upon any of the provisions of the proposed treaty, and our reserve in that regard will be noted. However, I beg to refer, by special request of the minister, to Article XXV of his proposed treaty, and which article relates to the pecuniary terms. Colombia is prepared to discuss, negotiate, and decide upon the precise sum or sums which may be reasonable for the United States to pay and for Colombia to ask; but as the subject is in the hands of Congress, and it seems impracticable at the moment to secure a definite expression of the views of the United States upon the subject, Colombia manifests its good faith and reasonableness by proposing that the annuity shall be only such sunı as mutually may be agreed upon between the nations, or, failing in such agreement, such fair and reasonable amount as may be determined by a high commission presided over by the president of the International Peace Tribunal of The Hague, the remaining members being nominated in equal number by the two nations. Such annuity would only be fixed once in a hundred years.
The national requirements of Colombia make a payment of $7,000,000 desirable, and you will note the provisions on that head; but I also ask you to note that Colombia waives the annuity for the first fourteen years. This method insures to the United States the concessionary rights which it requires and which can not be affected or interrupted by any difference or delay respecting the ascertainment of the annuity. The United States is only required to pay such sum as it may agree upon, or as so may be determined to be fair and reasonable. Colombia does not ask more than what may be determined to be fair and reasonable, and surely the United States does not wish to do less than that. I have the honor to be, Mr. Secretary, Your obedient servant,
WM. NELSON CROMWELL, General Counsel, New Panama Canal Company. Hon. JOHN HAY,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
LEGACION DE COLOMBIA,
Washington, D. C., April 18, 1902. SIR: Confirming the conclusions reached as the result of the conference held between yourself and Mr. Cromwell, and adopting, as far as practicable, your valuable suggestions, I beg leave to hand you the concessionary convention or treaty (in Spanish and in English) embodying the amendments agreed upon in the conference referred to.
My previous communication, of March 31, 1902, proposing the concessionary convention or treaty in behalf of my Government, and the expository communications of myself and Mr. Cromwell under the same date, apply equally to the inclosures.
Awaiting the pleasure of your excellency, I have the honor to renew the assurances of my high consideration.
J. V. CONCHA. Hon. John Hay, Secretary of State of the United States,
Department of State.
Memorandum of points to be embodied in a convention between the
Republic of Colombia and the United States of America for the construction of an interoceanic canal by the Panama route and the management of the railroad over said Isthmus, in furtherance of article 35 of the treaty of 1845–1848 existing between said nations.
(Presented by the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Colombia.)
The Government of Colombia authorizes the New Panama Canal Company to sell and transfer to the United States its rights, privileges, properties, and concessions, as well as the Panama Railroad and all the shares or part of the shares of that company, with the exception of the public lands situated outside of the Zone hereinafter specified, now corresponding to the concessions to both said enterprises, which public lands shall revert to the Republic of Colombia.
But it is understood that Colombia reserves all its rights to the special shares in the capital of the New Panama Canal Company to which reference is made in Article IV of the contract of December 10, 1890, which shares shall be paid their full nominal value at least.
The railroad company (and the United States as owner of the enterprise) shall be free from the obligations imposed by the railroad concession, excepting as to the payment at maturity by the railroad company of the outstanding bonds issued by said railroad company.
ARTICLE II. The United States shall have the exclusive right to excavate, construct, maintain, operate, control, and protect a maritime canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, to and across the territory of Colombia, such canal to be of sufficient depth and capacity for vessels of the largest tonnage and greatest draft now engaged in commerce, and also the same rights for the construction, maintenance, operation, control, and protection of railway, telegraph and telephone lines, canals, dikes, dams, reservoirs, and such other auxiliary works as may be necessary and convenient for the construction, maintenance, protection, and operation of the canal.
ARTICLE III. To enable the United States to exercise the rights and privileges granted by the foregoing articles, the Republic of Colombia grants to that Government the use of a zone of territory along the route of the
canal to be opened 5 kilometers in width on either side thereof, measured from its center line, excluding the cities of Panama and Colon. So far as necessary for the construction, maintenance, and operation of the canal, the United States shall have the use and occupation of the group of small islands in the Bay of Panama, named Perico, Naos, and Flamenco, together with 10 fathoms of water in the Bay of Limon in extension of the canal; but the same shall not be construed as being within the zone herein defined nor governed by the special provisions applicable to the zone. This concession shall be for the term of one hundred years, renewable at the option of the United States for periods of similar durations and subject to the payment of the amount hereinafter expressed.
This grant shall in no manner invalidate the titles of rights of private landholders in the said zone of territory, nor shall it interfere with the rights of way over the public roads of the department.
All the stipulations contained in article 35 of the treaty of 1846–1848 between the contracting parties shall continue and apply in full force to the cities of Panama and Colon and to the accessory community lands within the said zone, and the territory thereon shall be neutral territory, and the United States shall continue to guarantee the neutrality thereof and the sovereignty of Colombia thereover in conformity with the above-mentioned article 35 of said treaty.
In furtherance of this provision there shall be created a joint commission by the Governments of Colombia and the United States that shall establish and enforce sanitary and police regulations.
ARTICLE IV. The rights and privileges granted to the United States by the terms of this convention shall not affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Colombia over the territory within whose boundaries such rights and privileges are to be exercised.
The United States freely acknowledges and recognizes this sovereignty and disavows any intention to impair it in any way whatever or to increase its territory at the expense of Colombia or of any of the sister republics in Central or South America, but, on the contrary, it desires to strengthen the power of the republics on this continent and to promote, develop, and maintain their prosperity and independence.
ARTICLE V. The Republic of Colombia authorizes the United States to construct and maintain at each entrance and terminus of the proposed canal a port for vessels using the same, with suitable light-houses and other aids to navigation, and the United States is authorized to use and occupy, within the limits of the Zone fixed by this convention, such parts of the coast line and of the lands and islands adjacent thereto as are necessary for this purpose, including the construction and maintenance of breakwaters, dikes, jetties, embankments, coaling stations, docks, and other appropriate works. And the United States undertakes the construction and maintenance of such works and will bear all the expense thereof. The ports when established shall be declared free, and their demarcations shall be clearly and definitely defined.
To give effect to this article the United States will give special attention and care to the maintenance of works for drainage, sanitary,
and healthful purposes along the line of the canal and its dependencies, in order to prevent the invasion of epidemics or of securing their prompt suppression should they appear. With this end in view the United States will organize hospitals along the line of the canal, and will suitably supply the towns of Panama and Colon with the necessary aqueducts and drainage works, in order to prevent their becoming centers of infection on account of their proximity to the canal.
The Government of Colombia will secure the possession of the land that may be required in the towns of Panama and Colon to effect the improvements above referred to, and the Government of the United States shall be authorized to impose and collect equitable water rates, previously agreed upon with the Government of Colombia, during fifty years for the service rendered; but on the expiration of said term the use of the water shall be free for the inhabitants of Panama and Colon, except to the extent that may be necessary for the maintenance of said aqueducts.
ARTICLE VI. The Republic of Colombia agrees that it will not cede or lease to any foreign government any of its islands or harbors within or adjacent to the Bay of Panama; nor on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, between the Atrato River and the western boundary of the Department of Panama, for the purpose of establishing fortifications, naval or coaling stations, military posts, docks, or other works that might interfere with the construction, maintenance, operation, protection, safety, and free use of the canal and auxiliary works. In order to enable Colombia to comply with this stipulation, the Government of the United States agrees to give Colombia the material support that may be required in order to prevent the occupation of said islands and ports, guaranteeing there the sovereignty, independence, and integrity of Colombia.
ARTICLE VII. The Republic of Colombia includes in the foregoing grant the right, without obstacle, cost, or impediment, to the free navigation and use of the waters of the Chagres River and other streams, lakes, and lagoons, and of all waterways, natural and artificial, within the jurisdiction and under the dominion of the Republic of Colombia, in the department of Panama, that may be necessary or desirable for the construction, maintenance, and operation of the canal and its auxiliary works, including the right to raise and lower the levels of the waters and to deflect them, and to rectify and navigate any and all streams, lakes, and lagoons. All damages caused to private landowners by inundation, or by the deviation of water course, or in other ways arising out of the construction or operation of the canal, shall in each case be appraised and settled by a joint commission appointed by the Governments of Columbia and the United States, but the cost of the indemnities so agreed upon shall be borne solely by the United States.
The Government of Colombia declares free for all time the ports at either entrance of the canal and the waters thereof in such manner that there shall not be collected by the Government of Colombia