Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.
Bogota, February 17, 1909.
Sir: As I had the honor of reporting to the department by my telegram of the 13th instant, I arrived in Bogota on that day, carrying the treaties between Colombia and the United States and Panama. They were at once delivered, but owing to the slight illness of the minister for foreign affairs and the intervention of Sunday I was not able to resume my official relations with this Government until the 15th. I inclose herewith a note to that effect addressed to the minister for foreign affairs and a copy and translation of his reply received to-day.
From Cartagena, Gamarra, and Ambalema I telegraphed President Reyes or the minister for foreign affairs. At Cartegena, Barran-quilla, Gamarra, Honda, Mariquita, Ambalema, and Girardot, as well as on the steamboats and at Bogota, I conversed with a large number of Colombians of different shades of political opinion, and was able to detect no criticism of the terms of the treaties or indication [Page 364] of an intention to oppose their ratification by the national assembly. Among some enemies of President Reyes it is said that he ought to call a new election for a congress composed of two houses, and submit the treaties to it, but there seems to be no likelihood of any concerted action in this direction. Prior to my arrival at Cartagena, President Reyes considered the advisability of such action, and consulted many prominent citizens about it. While I was on the river he announced that since public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of the treaties and their prompt ratification, he had determined to summon the national assembly for the 22d instant. (See Mr. Hibben’s Nos. 232 and 233 of the 12th and 13th instant.)
Yesterday (Feb. 16) I had a long interview with President Reyes. He had read the text of the treaties and made no criticism of any of their details, referring with much satisfaction to their very exact correspondence with his instructions given in 1905 and 1906 through Dr. Climaco Calderon, then minister for foreign affairs. He had no doubt that the national assembly would ratify them by an overwhelming or even a unanimous vote, and this by the end of next week. He and the minister for foreign affairs had an informal conference with 21 of the 48 members of which the assembly is composed. (See my telegram of to-day.) Their votes were assured. Members were arriving rapidly, and he would see about 20 more in a day or two. Telegrams were pouring in daily from all parts of Colombia expressing satisfaction with the treaties.
President Reyes manifested great anxiety about ratification by the United States Senate. He showed me a telegram, dated February 14, from Minister Cortés, in which the latter stated that it was probable the Senate would amend the treaty between Panama and the United States. Reyes fears that this may delay the Senate’s ratification of the Colombian-United States treaty, and suspects that the Government of Panama will intrigue to this end. He had already answered Cortés’s telegram saying something to this effect.
I told him that the latest instructions from my Government (see your telegram of Feb. 9) indicated that the department was strongly of the opinion that Colombia’s interests would be furthered by her immediately ratifying, and that I had no news of any disposition on the part of the Senate to amend the Colombian treaty or delay its ratification.
I have, etc.