File No. 847/152–153.

Chargé Weitzel to the Secretary of State.

No. 361.]

Sir: I have the honor to advise, in continuation of my telegram of even date, that the inauguration of the Hon. José Domingo de Obaldia, as President of the Republic, took place at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, at the National Theater, in the presence of the members of the National Assembly, the diplomatic and consular corps, officials from the Canal Zone, the commander and two officers of the U. S. S. Buffalo, and an assemblage of about 2,000 people. The retiring President, Dr. Amador, did not attend, nor did any of the prominent members of the opposition party.

Immediately after the ceremony a reception was held by the President for the diplomatic and consular corps in the Government Palace, during the course of which Mr. C. E. Mallet, the British minister resident and acting dean, made a short address of congratulations and good wishes, which was responded to by His Excellency. The members of the diplomatic corps thereafter went to the Executive Mansion to pay respects to Madame Obaldia. Late in the afternoon I called alone on Dr. Amador and his wife at his private residence. He leaves soon for Jamaica, to be gone two months.

I am sending under separate cover inclosure No. 1, three copies of the addresses delivered by the president of the National Assembly and the President of the Republic, respectively, at the inaugural ceremonies, and inclosure No. 2, a translation of the latter’s discourse as it appeared in a local newspaper of the Obaldia party.

I have, etc.,

George T. Weitzel.

President Obaldia’s Speech.

Mr. President of the National Assembly, honorable deputies:

In taking the solemn oath that I will obey the constitution and laws as President of the Republic, I accept the responsibility that the supreme office imposes upon me. My oath gives true expression to my unswerving determination to devote myself to the service of my country, with abnegation and with loyalty, so that I may show myself worthy of the high honor conferred upon me by the manhood of the generous people of Panama.

I recently had occasion to publicly manifest my deep satisfaction at the unusual but so felicitous event, that the transmission of power among us should at last take place in the legitimate, pure, and irrevocable manner, which you, Mr. President, have so rightly praised; because thereby the credit of the Republic institutions which we have given ourselves is enhanced, the principal cause of our internal discords is removed, and a bright horizon of faith and hope is unfolded to the patriots of Panama, who until now have yearned in vain for the exercise of their rights and the safeguarding of their public liberty.

I shall ever be the stanchest supporter of these political achievements which are redeeming, and in which you rightly pride yourself with our fellow citizens.

As an earnest of the sincerity of my words, I offer the example of my whole life, and can point specially to the recent events which culminated in my elevation to the presidential chair. You will see that never did I solicit office or accept unworthy means to gain selfish ends, neither would I submit to indecorous humilitations to insure my success. Permit me to assert that the citizen [Page 667] who acts thus can never be a menace to the rights and liberties that the nation has placed under his care.

It is particularly gratifying to me that you, in the name of this high assembly wherein sit representatives of every section of our country, should recognize and declare as you have done that I do not owe my election to official favor, nor to courtesan intrigues, nor to corrupt methods, nor to dishonorable compromises which would limit my ability to do good and wither my moral power to fulfil the supreme duties laid upon me as head of the executive government. It is that I am persuaded, Mr. President, that the official favor which those who aspire to the public power seek is the ordinary form of imposition, and he who figures on thus elevating himself, builds upon fragile foundations and submits to conditions that are incompatible with the character and independence of worthy men.

The participation of Governments in electoral contests is according to some a measure of tranquility; but this tranquility, sir, which nowise differs from the lethargy of servitude, is so odious to me that I prefer a thousand times the dangers which an excess of popular liberty may bring. In this case, however, liberty can not degenerate into demagogism, “the eternal danger of democracy” according to the happy expression of Castelar, but it becomes as a healthful respect of public opinion, the free manifestation of which should be protected by all just men.

The forces which have elevated me to the highest seat in the nation are those which normally and legitimately should preponderate in a free country, and this alone banishes all thought of illegal acts or irregular transactions. My deepest obligation, that from which I will never swerve, is to remain faithful to my public promises oft reiterated, spontaneously and solmenly, or what is the same thing, to be true to my own ideas to which I owe the high distinction conferred upon me and which guaranty has further strengthened my conscience as an honest man.

Notwithstanding this, those who persist in refusing to recognize the supremacy invested by right in the majority in every Republic have attempted to deny all merit to the elements which combined to bring about my triumphs in the elections, and they have even rashly affirmed that my success is due primarily to the will of the Government of the United States, and that the known attitude of that Government, the ally and friend of our nation, was the result of weaknesses and damnable compromises injurious to the interests of our country.

This, gentlemen, is the time to emphatically declare that these charges, subversive of my dignity as a Panaman and to my honesty as a magistrate, are utterly devoid of any truth. Never have we in any way approached the United States that they should take the position it adopted in our electoral contest considering it compatible with its treaty rights. Truly we may say that it is not the actions of the people of Panama, but the conduct of the personnel of its Government, which brought about the attitude assumed by the United States during our campaign; and it is precisely for this reason that our country has derived noght but benefit from their action which insured the respect of suffrage, the triumph of the people’s will, and the reawakening of public confidence.

I am convinced, Mr. President, of the imperious necessity for our country to turn over a new leaf. It is necessarily essential above all else that the nation’s affairs should have preference over mere politics, in order that the labors of the executive may bear fruit. The government of the people is, as science and experience teaches, eminently a practical question. To be successful in the task of administering national interests the diligence and caution required by ordinary business transactions is essential, and for this reason the best governments are those which devote themselves with the greatest zeal and give stability to the matters intrusted to their care.

In politics, is is most important that we should strive to conserve public order, as this is the greatest of benefits; without it there is no possibility for profitable work; but as peace among us is guaranteed more by the sound sense, industrious habits, and patriotism of the people of Panama than by virtue of any international agreement, I may rest assured that public tranquility will not be disturbed. The régime of laws and order which I propose to maintain will also contribute to this end, as it will eliminate every reasonable cause for subversive impulses.