File No. 819.77/145.

The American Minister to the Secretary of State.

No. 298.

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 291, of the 14th instant, and to my telegram of January 19, I have the honor to inform you that I received late on the 18th instant a letter1 from Señor Arango, Secretary to President Porras, enclosing a copy of a bill “relative to the construction of railways and authorizing the Executive Power to contract a loan” (“Sobre construcción de ferrocarriles y autorización al Poder Ejecutivo para contratar tin empréstito”). A copy of this bill and a translation are enclosed.1 In his letter Señor Arango informed me that this copy was sent to me by direction of the President and that this bill took the place of the one sent to me a few days before, which was reported in my despatch No. 291 of the 14th instant.

Learning that this bill was about to be submitted to the Assembly, I immediately telegraphed its substance to the Department in my telegram of January 19, above referred to. As the bill, however, merely confers authority in the broadest terms upon the Executive to make contracts either by public bidding or directly for the construction of such railways as he may consider necessary, having in view the best interest of the country, and contracting for this purpose the necessary loan, also under extremely broad powers, I enquired in my telegram whether the Department desired me to request a postponement of its submission to the Assembly. Should the bill be passed as now drafted it would seem to furnish ample opportunity for consultation between the Panaman Government and our own regarding whatever action the Panaman Government might propose to take under the authority conferred by it. The Panaman Government might accordingly be informed substantially that in view of the great interest which any action taken under this bill, should it become a law, would have for the Government of the United States, this Government would expect previously to be consulted as to any such action.

I may add that I now learn that this bill has since been submitted to the Assembly and is on the calendar for first reading today.

I have [etc.]

H. Percival Dodge.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.