File No. 718.1915/236a.
The Secretary of State to Minister Price.
Washington, April 28, 1915.
Sir: Both Panama and Costa Rica have presented to this Department their views in regard to the award made by Chief Justice White of the United States Supreme Court, fixing the boundary line between Panama and Costa Rica.
After an examination of the papers the Department is convinced that no exception can be taken to the procedure followed, or to the findings of the Arbitrator, and that, therefore, there should be prompt and complete acquiescence in the award made.
This is an old dispute and the value of the territory involved is insignificant compared with the annoyance and ill-feeling that it has aroused. The United States could not, of course, be a party to anything which would cast discredit upon the Arbitrator, who is the presiding officer of the highest court in our land. Neither could we view with indifference the baneful influence which a rejection of this award by either party would have upon arbitration as a means of adjusting disputes between nations; and owing to the intimate relationship existing between the United States and Panama it would be a matter of deep regret if Panama should take any steps which would indicate a lack of respect either for the principle of arbitration or for the high tribunal to which this dispute was submitted.
If any hardship is caused by the award this Government will, of course, be pleased to use its good offices to bring the parties together upon some plan which will afford an adequate remedy, but this can not be taken up, of course, until after Panama indicates a willingness to accept the award.
In the fixing of boundaries it sometimes happens that citizens of one country find their possessions included within the boundary of another country, and it is possible that the boundary line as now drawn may leave Panamans in Costa Rica, and Costa Ricans in Panama. In such case it might be possible to effect an agreement by which Costa Rica would purchase at its market value the real estate of any such Panaman who does not desire to become a citizen of Costa Rica; and, in like manner, Panama might agree to purchase at its market value all real estate of any Costa Rican who does not desire to become a citizen of Panama.
This, however, is only made as a suggestion, to indicate this Government’s desire to go as far as it can in aiding the two countries to reach a final and satisfactory settlement of all differences connected with the boundary dispute.
In presenting this communication to the Foreign Office you will accompany it by assurances of our good will and of our desire to be helpful in every legitimate way to our neighbors.
I am [etc.]