to Mr. Dichman
Washington , May 26, 1881.
Sir: In your dispatch No. 235, date 20th December, 1880, you inclosed a proclamation of President Nuñez upon his return to the capital, in which he announces:
The Government of Costa Rica, in a spirit of fraternity and justice certainly very worthy of praise and even of gratitude upon our part, hastened to repair the momentary offense as soon as it was able to comprehend that thus we considered the indiscreet act of its subordinate agents. The temporary and confidential mission, so ably acquitted of its obligation, that was charged with demanding the evacuation of our territory, has been finally replaced by one which should effect, by means of diplomatic discussion, a definite arrangement as to the ordinary question of boundaries, which will be eventually submitted to arbitration, in accordance with the resolve of the senate of Colombia in its last session.
I have since learned from Mr. Logan, our minister in Central America, under date January 25, 1881, that a convention between Costa Rica and Colombia was signed on the 25th December, 1880, ratified by the council of state of Costa Rica, signed by President Guardia, and transmitted to the Colombian Government for like ratification.
This convention refers the settlement of the disputed boundary to the arbitration of the King of Belgium; in case of his refusal, to the King of Spain; and should he decline, then to the President of the Argentine Republic.
You have not, in more recent dispatches, made further reference to the matter, and I am at present uninformed if any action has been taken by the Government of Colombia in ratification of this convention.
In your dispatch No. 187, date July 19, 1880, you indicate that the settlement of this boundary line will determine whether the islands in [Page 356] the neighborhood of the Boco del Torro, on the Atlantic coast, and the Gulf of Dolce, on the Pacific, be properly within the territory of the State of Panama or the Republic of Costa Rica.
If I have rightly understood you, therefore, this contention involves the question as to whether certain portions of the littoral on both oceans, lying in the neighborhood of some of the projected interoceanic communications, belong to the State of Panama, the neutrality and territorial integrity of which the United States of America have guaranteed by the thirty-fifth article of the treaty of 1846, or to Costa Rica, with whom our treaty relations are different.
Under these circumstances, while the Government of the United States of America does not expect or claim the position of necessary arbitrator in differences between those two republics, it cannot but seem strange that Colombia has not communicated to this government its intention to submit to arbitration the boundaries of the State of Panama, the territorial integrity of which the United States of America have guaranteed by a treaty, the provisions of which they have been more than once called on to execute.
As no official communication has been made to this government of the convention, and as we are still uninformed as to its ratification by the Government of Colombia, no formal representation can be made by you. But you will take an opportunity, as from yourself, not under instructions from but with full knowledge of your government, to say to the minister of foreign affairs that the Government of the United States of America cannot satisfactorily account for the absence of any official communication upon a subject in which it is so directly interested, and that while it recognizes the wisdom of the method of arbitration in the solution of international differences, and has no objection to urge to the arbitrators who have been named, it thinks that its opinion, both as to the character of the submission and the choice of arbitrator, should have been consulted and considered, and that it will not hold itself bound, where its rights, obligations, or interests may be concerned, by the decision of any arbitrator in whose appointment it has not been consulted, and in whose selection it has not concurred.
I am, &c.,