Mr. Hall to
Guatemala , December 21, 1887. (Received January 12, 1888.)
Sir: With reference to and in continuation of my dispatch No. 754, of the 15th, I had the honor to transmit to you, on the 19th instant, a telegram announcing information received by me from the President of Nicaragua, to the effect that Costa Rica has withdrawn objections to the possible operations of the ship-canal surveying party on Costa Rican territory.
The translated text of President Carazo’s telegram is as follows:
Minister Hall, Guatemala:
The President of Costa Rica has addressed me the following telegram:
I have the pleasure to inform you that, at the solicitation of the canal company, my Government has granted permission, under this date, for making the necessary surveys in Costa Rican territory for locating the line of the canal.
Señor Esquivel, minister for foreign affairs of Costa Rica, under date of the 2d ultimo, addressed a note to Señor Zavala, minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua, in which be confirms and reiterates a former protest against the present interoceanic canal concession, granted by Nicaragua to Messrs. Menocal and associates, as an infraction of article 8, of the treaty of 1858, for the reason that the consultative voice of Costa Rica had not been heard.
In regard to the treaty of 1858, Señor Esquivel claims that until it shall have been declared by the arbitrator to be null and void, its observance is binding upon both countries, and that, even in such event, it will remain in force until the question of boundaries, which must result from the arbitrator’s award, shall have been settled.
He arraigns the canal concession upon the ground that the rights of Costa Rica to navigate the San Juan River, the right in common with Nicaragua to the Bay of San Juan del Norte (rights which Nicaragua has not conceded nor has Costa Rica possessed), are attacked and impaired thereby. He also alleges that the completion of the canal will result in grievous injury to the territory of Costa Rica, to her commerce, and to her river routes of communication; that the San Juan will be rendered useless for Costa Rican navigation; that the courses of Costa Rican rivers will be changed, and that many other grave injuries will be done to that Republic.
In the face of these charges he declares that the Costa Rican Government has no desire to create obstacles to the construction of the canal; that it is an enterprise of world-wide importance and interest, and that for a long time it has been the great desideratum of all Central American patriots.
These charges are, beyond a doubt, unfounded, and I am not aware that they have ever been made before; especially the charge that the courses of Costa Rican rivers will be changed and their navigation injured. The only effect the elevation of the waters of the San Juan to the level of the lake, as has been proposed, could have would be to make some of the Costa Rican streams which empty into it navigable during the whole year, whereas now they are mere creeks, during the so-called dry season. That section of Costa Rican territory near to the lake and the San Juan River is now almost wholly unproductive and sparsely inhabited. The completion of the canal would no doubt render it as valuable as any portion of Nicaraguan territory through which the proposed canal will pass. So well convinced of this fact were the prominent citizens of Costa Rica, as I reported to the Department in my dispatch No. 300, of January 12, 1885, that immediately after the signing of the canal treaty of 1884 the then President Fernandez and the now President Soto, as well as many other notabilities of that Republic, hastened to secure large tracts of public lands near to its proposed route.
The Nicaraguan minister, Señor Zavala, in reply to Señor Esquivel, expresses surprise and concern at receiving this uncalled-for protest in regard to a question which, having been submitted to arbitration, is beyond their discussion, but is again brought up at the very moment when a corps of engineers, charged with making the final surveys of the route, is about to arrive in Nicaragua, and that wire it not known that the Costa Rican cabinet is guided by enlightened counsels, it might well be supposed that the protest has no other object than the creation of obstacles to the consummation of a work of great interest, upon which the Central American States found all their hopes for the future, and that this conduct of Costa Rica is in complete opposition to that which it formerly observed whenever the same subject has been discussed.[Page 103]
He further reminds the Costa Rican minister that the canal concession recently granted to Señor Menocal and associates is essentially the same as the one granted to same parties in 1880, to which Costa Rica made not the slightest objection; on the contrary, it accepted the idea, suggested by Nicaragua, to join with the other Central American States in offering to the company a guaranty of 3 per cent, profits upon the capital to be invested in the enterprise; thus approving and assenting to the legality of all that Nicaragua had done in granting the concession. The Government of Nicaragua is therefore at a loss to understand what can possibly be the motives of the Government of Costa Rica for protesting against acts which have already received its approbation.
The rejection by the Nicaraguan Congress of the treaty of July last between those governments has evidently aroused a feeling of deep resentment on the part of the Costa Rican Government, which will make any mutual settlement next to impossible.
I have, etc.,