Minister Russell to the Secretary of State.

No. 34.]

Sir: Referring to my cable of yesterday in regard to the settlement of the claim of the Cartagena company, I have the honor to state that the terms of the settlement were the very best that could be obtained, and the Government of Colombia has acted in a very fair and equitable manner in regard to this matter. The minister for foreign affairs when he authorized me to summon Mr. Ford, the general manager, to Bogotá, assured me that he intended to examine the question very thoroughly and make a definite offer of settlement. The negotiations have been conducted at the foreign office between the minister for foreign affairs, Don Climaco Calderón, Mr. Ford, the general manager of the companies, and myself. There has been no friction whatever during the discussions, and I must say that the Colombian Government has acted throughout with that spirit of fairness which resulted in an award so just and equitable to this American corporation. The bonds given are called vales de extranjeros, and their issue was authorized by law 27, of 1903, for the purpose of paying claims of foreigners arising from the last revolution, are redeemable at the custom-houses for the payment of duties to the extent of 8 per cent of the amount due, and bear interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum.

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I inclose for your information copy of a letter to me from Mr. J. T. Ford, general manager of the companies interested, which gives a detailed statement of the manner in which this claim was settled. I am especially pleased to place on record the fact that Mr. Ford, by his judicious and temperate attitude in the presentation and management of this matter, has greatly facilitated me in obtaining an amicable and equitable settlement of the claim in question.

I am, etc.,

William W. Russell.

Mr. Ford to Minister Russell.

Dear Sir: In view of the successful termination of my business in the capital with results that I had not dared to hope for, when taking into consideration the delicate diplomatic relations that have lately existed between Colombia and the United States of America, I wish particularly to place on record in the name of the companies that I have the honor to represent my high appreciation of your distinguished ability in dealing with the case and your courteous treatment of myself throughout the negotiations so happily concluded for the settlement of a claim of such magnitude, which, from its peculiar nature, may be described as bristling with difficulties and which, with careless handling, would unquestionably have produced disastrous consequences to myself as the principal actor in the unfortunate incidents of the late revolution which gave rise to our claims and forced me often to protect the interests of my companies with a degree of vigorous warmth that had already earned for me unjustly the reputation of enmity to Colombia; but still more were the interests of our companies themselves threatened with serious injury in view of their connection with the relations between Colombia and the United States, and further delay might easily have been injurious also to Colombia. In these circumstances, therefore, I wish to forward to our companies an official confirmation from you of certain salient facts in connection with our settlement that will satisfy them as to the bona fides of the whole transaction from the point of view of all parties concerned, while it will serve as a matter of record in the remote event, not to be anticipated, of any hesitation on the part of future governments in Colombia to faithfully carry out the redemption of the bonds I have accepted in payment of the claim, when we could with perfect propriety again appeal to the Government of the United States for its good offices in protection of the rights of its citizens which in this instance it has so ably given.

The facts I allude to are as follows:

The claims of the companies I represent were placed in the hands of the State Department for collection through the diplomatic channel after some abortive attempts to arrive at a full settlement under a previous administration of the Colombian Government.
On your assuming the duties of American minister at Bogotá you were encouraged at the possibilities of the new administration of the President, General Reyes, to suggest, and, with his consent and that of the State Department at Washington, to summon me to Bogotá as representative of the companies with a view to further efforts toward an amicable settlement instead of forcing an arbitration, both costly and long drawn out, which, in view of the late results in Venezuela and the complications arising therefrom, it was in every way most desirable to avoid in the interests of all parties concerned.
Our companies in accepting this proposal did not therefore act independently of the State Department or take the matter out of your hands, but made use of your good offices to such an extent that you were personally a witness at every interview between myself and his excellency the minister of foreign affairs, Don Clímaco Calderon R. until the final conclusion of the settlement on the 21st of March, and that the Government of the United States, to the extent that these facts may show, has been throughout a party to the transaction.
That the terms of the settlement are as follows: $475,000 American gold in bonds of the Colombian Government, issued under law 27 of 1903, bearing interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum, and redeemable as cash payment of customs duties to the extent of 8 per cent of any or all such duties until finally liquidated.
That the settlement was for a sum en bloc, taking into consideration the possible depreciation in the value of the bonds to be received and with no admission whatever either by yourself or myself of the contentions often advanced by his excellency the minister of foreign affairs that the Government of Colombia was not responsible for the damages due to the acts of revolutionary forces after granting amnesty, notwithstanding the fact that on the part of the said minister the sum of the settlement as agreed by him may have been so divided from the items of the original claim papers in full.
That, furthermore, in view of such acceptance by me of a settlement without any payment in cash, it was agreed by the minister of foreign affairs that orders would be given to the respective departments that the previous obligations of the government for the payment of certain sums monthly to the company for delayed subvention bonds and balance outstanding for current and past services be faithfully continued or resumed in accordance with the terms of such previous agreements.

With due apologies for the length of this letter and hoping that you will comply with my request by a letter confirmatory of the above record of simple but important facts,

I have, etc.,

J. T. Ford,
Legal Representative C. T. I. Co., C. M. Rwy. Co. and Cia. F. de C.