Mr. Hart to Mr. Day.
Bogota, September 30, 1898.
Sir: I beg to confirm my telegram of the 30th instant, as follows:
Referring to your dispatch of August 20 (111), minister for foreign affairs answers, resuming all that he has said before and adding declaration of present owner, that he has not and never had any claims. Minister for foreign affairs regards this as conclusive. I await instructions. Now is the time to push the matter, before the adjournment of Congress, so provision can be made to pay.
Also to acknowledge receipt of your No. 111 of August 20 in the matter of the Panama Star and Herald claim. Immediately upon receipt of your instructions I prepared a note to the Colombian foreign office and went with it in person that I might present more fully to the minister for foreign affairs the reasons for taking up and dispatching the matter without further delay. On Friday of this week, having occasion to talk with the minister for foreign affairs on the Radford case, I again brought up the Star and Herald matter, and was informed that the reply was in course of preparation. At the same time gave me to know that his Government considered the whole matter as ended, laying great stress on the statement made by the present owner of the Star and Herald, and of which he has since sent me a copy with his answer to Mr. Sleeper’s note of April 1, 1897.
I inclose herewith a copy of the reply of the minister for foreign affairs. I do not translate and forward Duque’s statement, because its essential parts are included in the note from the foreign office. I can not find in the legation a copy of the statement filed by Duque with the Department of State, so that I am of course unable to make any comparison between the two documents. Mr. Duque is the principal owner of the Panama lottery, a valuable property operated under a concession. At the time of making the declaration now in possession of the Columbian Government he was engaged in a controversy over the concession for a lottery in Cundinamarca, the department of which Bogota is the capital.[Page 233]
I inclose also a copy of my reply to the Colombian foreign office, and to this I take the liberty of directing the Department’s special attention. On the point of the mistranslation, which I have raised in my reply, the Department need have no apprehension. The point is beyond dispute. My own view in this respect is confirmed by the best English-Spanish authority in Bogota.
I find no record of Mr. Sleeper’s acknowledgment to the Department’s No. 259, of February 24, 1897, but on April 1, 1897, Mr. Sleeper did address the Colombian foreign office a lengthy note following the line of Mr. Olney’s instructions. On May 31, 1897, he wrote again, pressing for a reply. Mr. Sleeper’s note of April 1, 1897, is one of the communications of this legation to which I have repeatedly asked answers, but it is true that I have not felt at liberty to make anything in the nature of a demand without special instructions from the Department.
The present session of the Colombian Congress, unless extended, which is not now thought probable, will close in 120 days from July 20 last. In my first talk with the new minister for foreign affairs, after receiving your No. 111, he agreed with me that it was desirable to conclude the matter while Congress is in session, so that this body might make the necessary provision for payment. This was before he knew anything about the Duque declaration and the stock arguments to be found in his archives.
If this matter be not pushed now, I think it will have no better chance of settlement in the future. I shall, of course, do my best to carry out such instructions as the Department may be pleased to give me.
I am, etc.,