File No. 718.1915/237.

Minister Price to the Secretary of State.

No. 521.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a copy of my note sent to the Foreign Office of Panama in compliance with the Department’s instruction No. 137 of the date of April 28 last, relating to matter of the acceptance by Panama of the award rendered by Chief Justice White in the boundary dispute between Costa Rica and Panama.

Some weeks ago Panama reestablished its Legation in Costa Rica, which had been abandoned several years ago, and appointed Señor Santiago de la Guardia as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic. The new Minister is an able man; has affiliations in Costa Rica; in fact, I understand that some years since, when he lived there, he occupied high official positions, including that of a cabinet portfolio at one time. He has been a leader in law and politics in Panama since the establishment of the Republic, having at one time been Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Señor de la Guardia is and has been affiliated with the Conservative party in Panama and an opponent of the present administration.

The Panaman Foreign Office admit that his appointment was for the purpose of attempting to further a compromise settlement with Costa Rica following the rendition of the award of Chief Justice White.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.
[Inclosure 1.]

Minister Price to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

No. 184.]

Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency that I am in receipt of a communication from the Secretary of State of the United States of America, in which I am informed that both Panama and Costa Rica have presented to the Department of State 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 examination of the papers the Department of State 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.

The Department calls attention to the fact that this is an old dispute and is impelled to believe that the value of the territory involved is insignificant compared with the annoyance and ill-feeling that it has aroused. It is, of course, taken for granted that no action of either interested party with reference to said award could be of a character which either of them would be willing to have susceptible of the construction of casting discredit upon the Arbitrator, who is the presiding officer of the highest court in our land. Neither could my Government view with indifference, I am instructed to say, 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.

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If any hardship is caused by the award, my Government will be pleased to use its good offices to bring the parties together upon some plan which will afford an adequate remedy; but this cannot 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 my 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 the foregoing views of the United States of America to the Foreign Office of the Republic of Panama, over which your excellency so worthily presides, I am instructed to express assurances of the good will of my Government and, also, of its earnest desire to be helpful in every legitimate way to all of its neighbors.

I avail [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.