Page images
PDF
EPUB

General Davis. The Porto Rican is a great rice user, for he is a great rice producer. But in Jamaica there is almost no rice raised and very little consumed.

Secretary Taft. They live on bananas, do they?

General Davis. They live on yams and yuccas and those roots, the tubers-plantains and so on. The plantain is the great food of the Jamaican negro.

It is a banana without sweetness. It grows very long, very large.

Senator Morgan. But those yams and bananas and plantains are not grown in sufficient abundance in the Isthmus to supply the market, are they?

General Davis. They have been adequate for their present needs. I think there are some yams brought to the Isthmus from Jamaica, quite a good many of them. The ships bring them over.

Secretary Taft. But, General, Bocas del Toro is one of the great banana ports, is it not?

General Davis. Oh, yes; very large.

Secretary Taft. That is in Panama; so that they do raise, in Panama, that kind of food.

General Davis. The yam represents to the Panama person what rice represents to the Porto Rican and the Oriental.

Senator MORGAN. Then the matter is left in this way: That the Government of the United States does not import any of these things-plantains, bananas, yuccas, or anything else?

General Davis. I can only speak of what happened during my time.

Senator MORGAN. We import none; so that the supply, of course, must come in either from the native production of Panama or from importations by the Panaman merchants?

General Davis. Yes, sir.

Senator MORGAN. So that throws the whole of that trade into the hands of the Panamans. We get nothing of it at all.

General Davis. No, sir.

Senator MORGAN. Can that be relied upon, in time to come, for the support of the labor down there?

Secretary Tarr. I think we have now about 25,000 men there, and they do not patronize our commissaries. They make their own purchases from the local suppliers.

Senator Morgan. Those local suppliers must make some profit upon the supply of that great amount of provisions ?

Secretary Tart. I hope they do.
Senator MORGAN. Well, it is probably true that they do?
Secretary Taft. I suppose so; yes, sir.

Senator Morgan. It seems to me that Congress ought to take in charge this subject of the duty upon such importations in order to regulate the food supplies for perhaps ten or fifteen or twenty thousand people that we rely upon for labor; that it is a subject that Congress ought to take into charge in some form, rather than to depend upon a modus vivendi, which the other Government can dispense with at any time. They can dispense with their modus vivendi and charge 15 per cent upon the importations if they want to and raise the price 5 per cent.

Secretary TAFT. But then we can open our ports and let them in for nothing.

It

Senator Morgan. We can do it, but we have made no provision for it.

Secretary Tarr. Oh, yes; we have. If the modus vivendi goes out we can do what we choose.

Senator MORGAN. That does not prevent the making of a corner, though, upon provisions.

Secretary Tart. It does in the sense that we give those who wish to import an opportunity to import them for nothing.

Senator Morgan. You can get out of it after you get into the trouble; but it does not prevent you from getting into it. That is what I understand.

Secretary Tart. Well, I do not anticipate any great trouble.

Senator Morgan. I am not anticipating anything about it, either; but I want a rule of law that will operate so as to give those people there who labor for the Government a full supply of food, reliable in its quality and also in its amount, and at a rate they can afford to pay.

Secretary TAFT. The truth is, Senator, in order to understand this exactly, that this modus vivendi does not limit at all what may be brought in by the United States free. The modus vivendi could continue just as it is and the United States could import yams for nothing, if it chose—that is, under article 13; and article 13 is not affected by the terms of the modus vivendi.

Senator MORGAN. Article 13 of the treaty, you mean?
Secretary TAFT. Yes, sir.

Senator MORGAN. Would you prefer that that modus vivendi should stand as a permanent arrangement?

Secretary Tart. I do not think it is drawn for that purpose. was carefully drawn for the purpose for which it was put in force, but it was not intended to be permanent. It was hoped that subsequently it would be succeeded, in so far as a treaty would cover it, by a treaty.

Senator Morgan. If we have the power to do it without a treaty, you think it is the duty of Congress to do it?

Secretary TAFT. Yes, sir; where Congress thinks that the provisions ought to be put in the form of a permanent law.

Senator MORGAN. I have understood from almost everybody that has talked about it that those were very fine waters for fish down there. What can you tell us about that?

Secretary Taft. Yes, sir; I think they are; but I think-of course about this General Davis would know much more than I do—my impression is that they have the same trouble there that we had in the Philippines; it is very difficult to get anybody to do the fishing.

General Davis. That is true.

Secretary Taft. So that the food supply from fishing for anybody but the person who does the fishing is really negligible. Is not that true, General?

General Davis. Yes.
Secretary Tart. It is very difficult to get good fish.

General Davis. The Chinese are the only fishermen; the natives do no fishing

Senator MORGAN. The natives are too lazy?
General DAVIS. I think so.

Senator ANKENY. But is it not true, Mr. Secretary, that that fish supply is a big factor in the food supply of these people?

Secretary Taft. I do not think so, sir. General Davis would know about that, but I do not think so.

The CHAIRMAN. I think, Mr. Secretary, that they do very little work and very little fishing. That is what I should say.

General Davis. There is a great deal more Nova Scotia codfish consumed on the Isthmus than any other kind of fish.

The CHAIRMAN. My understanding is that there is an abundance of fish, and good fish, but that they can not get the fishermen.

Secretary Taft. That is it.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the understanding. I had when I was there.

Senator ANKENY. What I meant by that is that this fish could be made a big factor in the food of these people. I did not mean to say anything funny about it; but I think that those fisheries can be made an important factor in the supply of food to those people on the Isthmus.

Secretary Taft. That is true, Senator, if you could get the fishermen.

Senator ANKENY. We can get the fishermen if there is money in it. Secretary Taft. I know; but there is not money in it. That is the difficulty. At least, if that is a motive, and it does exist, it has not operated to produce fishing yet.

Senator ANKENY. Yes; but the idea is that we always have that to fall back upon there as a factor in the supply of the food of those people.

Secretary Taft. Yes, sir; but it is like having something that you could make profitable if you had the labor; but you have not got the labor.

Senator ANKENY. You might say that of any industry-mining, for instance.

Secretary Taft. That is true of the mines in the Tropics.

Senator ANKENY. The fish are there, and can be taken, and enter into the supply of those people, as the evidence shows. We ought to know definitely what it is, what it amounts to.

Secretary Tart. It does not amount to anything now.

Senator ANKENY. I mean, the fish are there, the banks are there, and the industry is there.

Secretary Taft. No; the industry is not there.

Senator ANKENY. Not in that sense, but the business is there, if you should work it. Is that it?

Secretary TAFT. If you could get some good fishermen from Gloucester to go down there, I have no doubt you could get in a great many fish. Whether the people would buy fish is, I suppose, to be determined by what they have heretofore bought. The Americans on the Isthmus would certainly buy fish, provided the fish were furnished immediately out of the water. You can not in the Tropics take anything but fish that are alive when you buy them. I know something about this, because we used to have the most delicious fish in the Philippines, and we had a very large market for it; but it was very difficult to get the market supplied. On the Isthmus I think it was a good deal worse than it was in the Philippines.

General Davis. Yes; a great deal worse.

Senator MORGAN. You describe a state of feeling down there, Mr. Secretary, that I wish to inquire about a little more, with a view of

trying to ascertain whether it is possible to correct it without giving up everything down there that we think is of any important consequence to our work. You say:

“ In the era of good feeling between all parties succeeding the revolution they were elected on the same ticket."

That is, the Liberals and the Conservatives?

Secretary TAFT. That is my recollection I think that was the case. Was it not, General?

General Davis. Yes.

Senator MORGAN (reading). “The parties soon divided again when the patronage came to be distributed. The moment the people understood the effect of the introduction of the Dingley tariff between the Zone and the Republic they resented the act as an indication of a desire on the part of the United States to grab the land of the Zone for its commercial purposes and to exclude all Panamans from the profitable business which they had expected to do with the people of the Zone, gathered there by the United States for the great work. The opposition party—the Liberal party-was quick to seize upon this as a ground for attacking the Conservative administration, on the theory that the Government had yielded to the United States and had sacrificed the interests of the Republic. The attitude of the Liberal party, of course, reacted upon the course of the Conservative administration, and both parties were at once driven into hostility to any proposition of the United States looking to the operation of its governmental control over the Zone at those many points where it came in close contact with the jurisdiction of the Republic."

Do you know of any ground upon which you could anticipate that in the future this sentiment would not increase rather than diminish between the Panaman Government and the Government of the United States in that Zone ?

Secretary Taft. It has not. The effect of what we did down there was to make everything as harmonious as possible.

Senator Morgan. When you went there for the purpose of trying to correct it, you found, as you have described here, that there was fierce antagonism-fierce discussion, rather?

Secretary Tart. Yes, sir. I ought to say this: That the effect of the publication of the President's letter was, I think, quite good. Still, they did not do anything; and I think the effect of the publication of the modus vivendi was good, and it has continued to work satisfactorily since.

Senator Morgan. And you seem to think that they resented our attempt to carry on any trade down there on account of the American interests, or with American business and capital, as an effort to make a land grab and exclude them from the profitable business that they had expected to do with the people of the Zone, gathered there by the United States for this great work?

Secretary Taft. What they resented was building a big wall around the Zone in such a way that the cities of Panama and Colon should be excluded from any business association with the Zone.

Senator MORGAN. And especially that would exclude the operatives in our work there in the Zone from trading with them?

Secretary Taft. Yes, sir.
Senator MORGAN. That was the big end of it?
Secretary TAFT. That is it.

Senator MORGAN. Their views were speculative, not to say mercenary, in that regard ?

Secretary Taft. They were.
Senator MORGAN. And continued to be so?
Secretary TAFT. Yes, sir.

Senator Morgan. That seems to bring up the question as to the character of the government we are to conduct there—whether we will live from hand to mouth by making pacifications of those people as occasion arises, or whether we are to ordain a system of government that in itself is perfectly just to all concerned, and that will give us control of our property without interruption from these speculators on the Panama side.

Would you not think that it was sa fer for contractors or for the Government in the conduct of the work of digging this canal to supply that Zone with every necessity to be supplied by the Government of the United States, or by such merchants as we might permit to do work there-not such as chose to do it, but such as we might permit to go there to supply merchandise, and to supply them with money for the conduct of their business, and to supply them with laws and administration that would keep them from being sources of public exasperation or danger or anything of that sort ? In other words, ought we not to take authoritative governmental control of every interest in that Zone?

Secretary Taft. No, sir; I do not agree with that view.
Senator MORGAN. You do not?

Secretary Taft. No, sir. I think it would be a very impolitic, and, I may add, a very unjust thing, to introduce any sort of obstruction to the trade between the people of the Zone and the people of Panama. I do not mean to say that we ought not to look after our employees and see that they are properly fed; but when they are being properly fed I do not think there is any necessity at ail for our taking on the additional burden of feeding them ourselves. On the other hand, I think that they may reasonably expect fair treatment in the matter of doing a normal business with that which they have ceded to us. I do not see any objection to it, Senator. I do not see why we should put in there a strong hand and make them feel that we are there for the purpose of regulating them and depriving them of that which is so naturala desire to deal with their close neighbors.

Senator MORGAN. The considerations which affect my mind, at least, go beyond the question of the profit to be derived from trade and barter between the people of the Zone, including its operatives, and the people of Panama; and I think they are of quite supreme importance as compared with those that I have just referred to. The city of Colon and the city of Panama, and possibly the villages between, or some of them, are represented as being occupied and inhabited by a heterogeneous population, drawn from the different parts of the earth, from pretty much all nationalities, who are not drawn there for the sake of agriculture or for the sake of exportation of woods or minerals or any other product of Panama, but are drawn there simply for the sake of the traffic that the railroad and the canal engender and create. That is their motive for going there; they have no interest in society at all, except merely to get as much

« PreviousContinue »