File No. 71.1.21/139.
The American Minister to the Secretary of State.
Bogotá , February 5, 1913 .
Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith a brief statement concerning the preliminary conversation about the suggestions which I was instructed to present to the Colombian Government for the purpose of securing if possible, an adjustment of the differences between the two countries. As I notified the Department by cable, the Colombian Government firmly refused to agree to the completion of the Tripartite Treaties, and after the second preliminary conference the Foreign Office informally notified me that the Atrato concession, the perpetual lease of the islands, and the arbitration suggestions were not acceptable to the Colombian Government. Believing that the objection to the arbitration suggestion might be overcome, I cabled the Department asking that the suggestion concerning the Atrato concession and the perpetual lease of the islands of San Andreas and Providencia might be changed into a suggestion for an option on the Atrato route and a privilege for coaling stations on the islands. The Department’s [Page 288] answer to that cable was of such a character that I felt free to have a preliminary conversation along the lines suggested, always bearing in mind that a long time option must be granted if the sum of $10,000,000 were to be paid.
As the original suggestion of a “concession” for a canal on the Atrato route, and a “perpetual lease” of the islands of San Andreas and Providencia could not be considered by the Colombian Government I have eliminated those suggestions from the inclosed report and substituted the modified suggestions that are now under informal consideration. It will be noted that in my explanation of time limit of the option, I have used the term seventy five years simply as an argument to show to the Colombian Government what the revenue from such a large sum means when the interest on the sum is taken into consideration, and not that a seventy five years’ option would be acceptable. The explanation of the “advantages” which would come to Colombia, should she propose the ideas embodied in this statement for our consideration, has been necessary in order to assist those directly interested to grasp the great value of the generous position taken by the United States Government in its desired adjustment of the pending differences.
What the outcome of these conferences will be is still uncertain. Beyond the per adventure of a doubt word has reached headquarters here from the United States that the Democratic administration “should have the prestige” of a settlement between the two countries and will make a much more generous arrangement than the present administration can possibly offer. I have tried to impress upon those in authority here that the policy of the Department on general principles is unaffected by a change of administration, that it always remains true to the broadest lines of treatment of all nations, and that, while I have no authority to speak for the incoming administration, still it is difficult to conceive of any plan it could adopt that would be more just and honorable and generous than the one now under consideration, and which, at the same time, would meet with the approval of the American people. Whatever happens the Department of State has now suggested a settlement which for liberality, practicability and deference to the susceptibilities of the Colombian people, must challenge the admiration and sympathy of all right thinking persons no matter what their nationality may be. I hope that the Colombian authorities may find it possible to arrange a settlement on the lines now proposed, and I suggest that if the Department deems it proper the statement herewith inclosed might be published, provided Colombia refuses to treat along these lines; notice of such refusal would of course be cabled to the Department as soon as it is known here. It would prove to the world that the United States has made a sincere and honest endeavor along broad and generous lines to render every possible justice to the Republic of Colombia whose ancient friendship our country would rejoice to see renewed.
I am inclosing a statement which I may, if in the end I deem wise, present to the Foreign Office as purely an informal explanation of the advantages to Colombia contained in the suggestions.
I wish respectfully to call the attention of the Secretary of State to the fact that the mention of the “option” and the “privilege” [Page 289] contained in the enclosed statements are simply and purely informal suggestions not to be seriously considered until I have the approval of the Department.
I have [etc.]
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