Mr. Barrett to Mr. Hay.

No. 14.]

Sir: There has been no particular change in the situation here since my No. 10 of August 2 was written.

The pursuance of a sincerely friendly attitude toward the Panama Government on my part, coupled with the transmission of your cabled instructions of August 2, has tended to allay official and public excitement, until now there is general confidence in a settlement acceptable to both countries.

* * * * * * *

I have to-day made my first direct proposal looking to a basis of settlement and inclose a copy of my communication thereon to the minister for foreign affairs. It would seem to me that we can make concessions in accordance with sections 8 and 9 of the President’s order of June 24, that will offset what Panama contends she is losing in the establishment of the Port of Ancon.

On account of the hope of an early understanding the Panama minister for foreign affairs has asked that there be no formal signing of a “modus Vivendi” as written in my No. 9 of August 2, but that I accept his oral assurance that Panama will not interfere with the existing status pending final settlement. To avoid further discussion of a secondary point I have agreed to this intimation.

As a matter of record I beg to inclose copies, respectively, of my letters to the minister for foreign affairs and his reply thereto in regard to your cabled instructions of August 2.

I have, etc.,

John Barrett.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Barrett to Mr. Arias.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to inform your excellency that I have received cabled directions from my Government to assure your excellency’s Government that the United States will do nothing inconsistent with the honor and true interests of both republics, and that it desires to assist and uphold Panama in every proper way. My Government further desires me to state that no permanent policy will be adopted at this time without the fullest consultation with Panama.

As my Government also telegraphs me that this assurance was given Monday to the minister of Panama in Washington, it is probable that your excellency’s Government has already been acquainted by him with the purport of what I have communicated to you above.

In informing your excellency of this instruction, it gives me profound pleasure [Page 596] to remind you that, no matter how certain acts of the canal zone authorities may have been construed by the Panama Government, there has never been the slightest intention of my Government to swerve from an honorable and just interpretation of the treaty. I desire also to call your excellency’s esteemed attention to the fact that the spirit and thought of these instructions are in absolute accord with the methods and words I have had and shall have the honor to employ in discussing with your excellency all questions at issue between the two governments. At the same time I have impartially imparted to my Government the representations you have submitted to me.

In conclusion I beg to express the hope that your excellency will early communicate to me your readiness to sign the “modus Vivendi” now under consideration on the port question, so that the way be entirely cleared for calm and thorough consideration of the main issue.

I, etc.,

John Barrett.
[Inclosure 2.—Translation.]

Mr. Arias to Mr. Barrett.

Mr. Minister: I have before me the important note of the 3d instant, in which your excellency informs me that cabled instructions have been received from your Government with the assurance to my Government that the United States will do nothing incompatible with the honor and true interests of both republics, and the desire of the United States to help and sustain Panama by all possible correct means.

Your excellency, besides communicating the above, makes other manifestations, all converging to bring to the understanding of my Government the intimate persuasion of the sincere offers of your excellency in connection with the honorable and just interpretation of the treaty of November 18, 1903, which offers serve to make stronger the high conception of the United States held by the undersigned.

Welcome in the highest degree to my Government are the clear manifestations of your excellency, inasmuch as they foretell the facile settlement of the difficulties which have arisen, and they augur conciliation of the interests of both states.

I take this opportunity to express to your excellency that a cablegram has been received from the diplomatic functionary of the Republic at Washington, in which it is communicated that his excellency the President of the United States will send instructions to your excellency and to Rear-Admiral Walker to bring about the solution, in this capital, of the questions arising over the application of article 2 of the treaty. I beg, then, that your excellency will kindly inform me if, subsequent to your note which I now acknowledge, your excellency has received these instructions, so as to begin and to finish as soon as possible the discussion of an affair of such great and transcendental importance to the interests of the republics.

Very soon I shall have the pleasure to treat with your excellency with respect to the projected “modus vivendi.”

Tomas Arias.
[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Barrett to Señor Arias.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, yesterday, of your excellency’s esteemed note bearing date of August 5, in which you courteously discuss certain points in my note which you consider to need rectification in order to fix their true meaning.

[Page 597]

As I think I understand your lucid exposition of these points, and as there is no reason therefore for further comment thereon, I will simply express the hope that we may soon be able to reach an interpretation of the treaty that will be mutually acceptable.

In this connection I first beg to call your excellency’s kind and thoughtful attention to two sections of the original order of the President of the United States, dated June 24, 1904, as follows:

  • Sec. 8. The governor of the Canal Zone is authorized to enter and carry out an agreement with the President of the Republic of Panama for cooperation between the customs service of the Canal Zone and that of the Republic of Panama to protect the customs revenues of both governments and to prevent fraud and smuggling.
  • Sec. 9. The governor of the Canal Zone is hereby authorized to enter upon negotiations and make a tentative agreement with the President of the Republic of Panama respecting reciprocal trade relations between the territory and inhabitants of the Canal Zone and appurtenant territory and the Republic of Panama; also a readjustment of customs duties and tariff regulations so as to secure uniformity of rates and privileges and avoid the disadvantages resulting from different schedules, duties, and administrative measures in limited territory subject to the same conditions and not separated by natural obstacles. The governor shall report as to such negotiation and proposed agreement to the chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission, for submission and consideration by the Commission and such action by competent authority as may be necessary to render said agreement effective in the Canal Zone.

These two sections were not embodied in the President’s order as published in Panama by Governor Davis, because he thought it best that they should not be made public until their purport and possibilities were fully discussed with the Panama Government. Various conditions and the difference of opinion as to the establishment and administration of the Port of Ancon interfered to prevent his taking up these provisions with your excellency.

By considering them carefully your excellency will at once note that they are most liberal in suggestion and scope. They show clearly that the United States Government desires to respect the true interests of Panama and to assist and uphold it in every proper way. They provide for a protection of the fiscal and economic system of your excellency’s government which may open the way to a satisfactory adjustment of the main issue between the two governments.

Now that the distinguished chairman of the Canal Commission and a majority of his colleagues are in Panama, it should be possible to reach an agreement mutually agreeable to all concerned. And I may add, Mr. Minister, that you will find me always ready to do everything in my power to assist in bringing about such an agreement and understanding.

I take, etc.,

John Barrett.