File No. 837.156/134.
The Secretary of State to the American Minister.
Washington , February 13, 1913 .
Sir: Referring to the Department’s telegraphic instruction of February 8 concerning the Habana bridge project, I enclose a copy of a letter1 from the Secretary of War dated January 25 last, and a copy of its accompanying report1 made by Colonel Black of the United States Engineers, dated January 11, 1913, and its enclosures; also a copy of a letter1 from the Acting Secretary of the Navy dated December 27, 1912, and of the accompanying report of the General Board; also a copy of a statement1 under date of July 8, 1912, made by Colonel Black respecting the bridge project at the time of his report concerning the ports improvement project.
These reports are sent for such use as the Legation may find it necessary to make of them in connection with its representations to the Cuban Government in accordance with the instructions hitherto issued.
Respecting Colonel Black’s observations concerning the force and effect of the adoption by the Provisional Government on November 19, 1909, of the plan of harbor improvement projected by the Government Board appointed in 1907, it may be observed that while under the circumstances, as understood by the Department, the Department is not now disposed to argue upon the question whether or not this project is now legally binding on the present Cuban administration and must be executed unless further formally modified under the laws of Cuba, the Department is of opinion that you might properly call to the attention of the Cuban Government the apparent advantages of the former plan and deplore any interference with it by anything such as the present objectionable project.
Regarding the suggested difficulties in the way of now preventing the consummation of the bridge project, it is to be observed that the Cuban Government in its note transmitted in your telegram of January 25 seems in substance to concede the possibility of suspending its execution and possibly the necessary steps to this end may be taken without great difficulty. However this may be, the Department desires you in your representations to the Cuban Government to leave no doubt as to the unalterable character of the Department’s opinion that the project is inadmissibly detrimental to the vital interests of both Governments and as to the expectation that the appropriate measures will be taken to prevent its execution. Respecting the Legation’s comparison of the present situation with the Zapata [Page 377] situation, it may be noted as of possible service that the law of December 21, 1910, which, according to the Department’s information, is the only special law regarding the bridge project, while it looks to the construction of the bridge, seems in the main to be merely an authorization to the Executive to make the land grant which is a feature of the concession. On the other hand, Decree No. 80 of March 10, 1911, which seems to be the original definition of the bridge project proper, makes no specific reference to the law of December 21, 1910, and seems, like the Zapata decree, to rest for its authority on the provisions of general laws—in the present case the Law of Ports and General Law of Public Works.
You will keep the Department informed of the developments in the matter.
I am [etc.]