File No. 419.11D29/78.
Minister Price to the Secretary of State.
Panama, February 19, 1915.
Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 389 of January 25 last, I have the honor now to enclose a copy and translation of the response of the Panama Secretary of Foreign Affairs to my note. This was received on February 5. I have been waiting with patience but without avail for the transmission by Sr. Lefevre of the supplementary note promised in this one.
In the meantime the outbreak on last Saturday night in the same district has transpired.
In my note to Sr. Lefevre to which the enclosure herewith is a response it will be seen that I took occasion among other things to make the following statement:
I am therefore impelled to be insistent and emphatic beyond the degree that it is ever pleasant to reach, and, referring to the repeated demands firmly but courteously presented to your excellency’s Government in this matter, respectfully to advise your excellency that further continued delays and replies of a like unsatisfactory character to those in the past can be susceptible of only the most regretful construction.
This last note is a fair epitome and illustration of the character of record made up by Panama against itself in these cases. The trouble between our soldiers and the Panama police last Saturday night emphasizes the dereliction of Panama in the 4th of July matter of 1912, and will do so even more clearly if the action that may be appropriate on the part of our officials in the investigation of the latter trouble is prompt and unbiased, as it bids fair to be.
I believe now even more strongly than before that after the natural arousal of feeling by this recent clash, a conviction by a jury of Panamans of any participant in the former affair could hardly be hoped for, however guilty he might be shown to be. Granting this, any prosecution now secured by us to be carried on by Panama would, it is believed, result in nothing more than to furnish them with an argument that an acquittal by court procedure justified them in insisting that their Government should not be held liable by our own to answer in damages herein. It is believed, too, that emphatic insistence even in general terms for action by Panama just at present in these cases might result in their instigation of prosecutions to obtain the benefit of the argument referred to above.
Without further demand for the time being for response by Panama herein, I believe their answer, when later made in their own [Page 1166] good time, will be in keeping with the one hereby transmitted and, perhaps, equally self-incriminating.
Later on, however, I think the matter of recent clash and the prospective visit of our fleet for the opening of the Panama Canal in July next presented in connection with the exasperating dereliction of Panama in these cases, all can be urged most effectively supplementary to an ultimatum that will command compliance.
Awaiting the Department’s further instructions, I have [etc.]