Mr. Becerra to Mr. Blaine.
Department of Foreign Relations,
Bogotá, May 7, 1881.
Sir: Our representative at Washington having returned to this city, has laid before the government the minute or protocol which was signed by him conjointly with Mr. Trescot, your excellency’s commissioner, in the city of New York, on the 17th day of February last, and which contains declarations with regard to the sense, scope, and manner of execution of article 35 of the treaty of 1846 between the two republics, in reference to the neutrality of transit across the Isthmus of Panama and the rights of sovereignty and dominion of Colombia over that portion of her territory.
After maturely considering the declarations made in that protocol in the name of this republic, my government regrets to find them at variance with the instructions which were transmitted to our representative, and with the means which we deem best adapted to prevent any extension of the obligations contracted by both nations by the treaty of 1846, and to avoid the dangers which might arise, both for them and for the other republic having territory on the Pacific from the substitution of a ship-canal across the Isthmus of Panama for the present barrier, which is the isthmus itself. Inasmuch as that work is to be for the benefit of the world’s commerce, it is not just that it should entail exceptional charges or costs upon the nation that generously offers its territory for the purpose, or upon the American Government.
In view of these facts, and as Colombia has ever been actuated by an earnest desire to promote the safety and the commercial interests of both nations by reason of their mutual, firm, and sincere friendship, the government of the undersigned hopes that it will be able to continue the negotiations at Washington with as little delay as possible, and that the temporary interruption which has occurred will not be displeasing to your excellency, since the work of the canal has scarcely been commenced, and cannot be finished for a number of years to come.
With sentiments, &c.,