Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 6, 1904
Mr. Barrett to Mr. Hay.
Panama, August 2, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to inclose copies of the protest addressed to me by the minister for foreign affairs in the port matter of the Panama Government, and of my reply thereto. * * *
I have, etc.,
Mr. Arias to Mr. Barrett.
Panama, July 28, 1904.
Mr. Minister: On account of the opening of ports in the Panama Canal Zone and the consequent acts executed by the authorities of that territory and by the agents of navigation companies and the captains of ships, there have arisen grave difficulties and an outlook extremely deplorable in every way for the future life of the Republic of Panama, which, as an independent and sovereign State, has the right to be respected even by the most powerful nations in the world, and by the United States of America, to which Panama is a natural ally, and the Republic of Panama has not only the right to expect common respect, but more especial and deferential treatment than that which she has received.
The treaty of November 18, 1903, can not and should not serve as a pretext for unusual tendencies; it is really a bond of perpetual union between the two nations, upon which the eyes of the universe are fixed with the expectation of the great benefit which the world has every right to look forward to. Starting, then, with this sane conception, my Government can not accept the idea that the opening of the said ports was in obedience to the orders of your excellency’s Government, but to the erroneous interpretation of the respective treaty on the part of the authorities of the canal zone; but be it as it may, the acts accomplished are highly alarming, because they impair the interest and lessen the dignity of the Republic, and on this account I take this opportunity to present to your excellency a most courteous but solemn and energetic protest against such acts and those acts which can be accomplished while the illustrious Government of your excellency does not take the steps which such an exceptional situation demands.
I take, etc.,
Mr. Barrett to Mr. Arias.
Panama, August 1, 1904.
Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s esteemed note of July 28, in which you protest against the opening of the ports in the canal zone and the consequent acts executed by the authorities of that territory. A copy thereof has been delivered to Governor Davis and [Page 594] another copy will be forwarded in the first mail to the Department of State at Washington.
While reserving for another time the discussion of the issue involved, beyond assuring your excellency that this protest shall have my careful and thoughtful consideration, I beg to call your valued attention to two observations in your communication.
In the first portion of your excellency’s note, if my translation is correct, you say that the Republic of Panama has not only the right to expect common respect, but more especial and deferential treatment than that which she has received from the United States. In view of the intimation implied in these words, I must observe, on behalf of my Government, that an honest and sincere interpretation of its rights under a convention and the acts which it regards as legitimate under the same should not be arbitrarily classed by the other nation, which is party to the treaty, as showing lack of respect or deference for the latter.
Again, your excellency sees fit to state that your Government can not accept the idea that the opening of the said ports was in obedience to the orders of my Government, but rather due to the erroneous interpretation of the respective treaty on the part of the authorities of the canal zone. On this point I have only to say in justice to such authorities of the canal zone that they acted in accordance with orders from Washington, copies of which, I believe, Governor Davis placed in your excellency’s hands soon after they reached Panama.
Whatever may be the difference of opinion between our respective governments, I take pleasure in saying to your excellency that you will always find me ready not only to discuss with you in complete fairness and frankness all questions at issue, but to report impartially thereon to my Government at Washington.
I seize, etc.,