File No. 419.11D29/82.

Minister Price to the Secretary of State.

No. 440.]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a note which I have transmitted this morning to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Panama in the matter of the Cocoa Grove affair of July 4, 1912, in compliance with the directions of the Department contained in its instruction No. 104 of February 18 last, and its telegram of March 10, 1915.

I shall report duly further developments.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.

Minister Price to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

No. 146.]

Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency that the Department of State of my Government having throughout the past closely followed the case of the Cocoa Grove affair of July 4, 1912, and continuing to take the earnest interest in same which the grievous events of that occasion would naturally inspire, and having duly considered the more recent notes exchanged between your excellency’s office and mine of the respective numbers and dates of No. 119 of January 25, 1915, and No. S–5606 of February 4, 1915, now instructs me specifically to communicate to the Government of your excellency’s Republic through your excellency that my Government has patiently waited much more than a reasonable to me for the termination of the court inquiries in this matter and is reluctantly forced to the conclusion that same are being deliberately delayed.

I have the honor to advise your excellency that I have been reliably informed that an opinion herein by Judge Saturnino L. Perigault was delivered only about ten days ago for action thereon by the Superior Court Judge, whose decision pursuant thereto should in due course have been handed down within four days thereafter; that there exists after the delivery of the decision last named the possibility of another passing back and forth of decisions between these courts, with the final accomplishment of a successful prosecution of any one guilty of the crimes committed more than two and a half years ago even then still in doubt.

The Department of State of my Government is in possession, also, of this information, and further instructs me specifically to say that unless the final action of all courts concerned in said inquiry shall be announced within, the next two weeks my Government will be confirmed in the conclusion reluctantly formed, as above stated, and will therefore be forced to the conviction that the Republic of Panama does not desire to do justice in the matter of inflicting punishment upon those guilty of the crimes committed upon American citizens so long ago as July 4, 1912.

While month after month was passing with this case suffering apparent neglect and seeming intentional putting aside by authorities of your excellency’s Government, there have continued the insistent efforts of my Government, which the record herein so fully discloses, and there have been repeated more than once the warnings which the recent outbreak on February 14 shows were so pertinent. The investigation into this last deplorable affair has proceeded sufficiently to justify the Department of State of my Government to feel convinced that the main body of the Panaman police force involved on this last occasion indulged in excesses, and further to indulge the presumption that same might not have occurred if your excellency’s Government had visited appropriate punishment upon the policemen involved in these 4th of July, 1912, outrages.

[Page 1169]

In this connection I desire to incorporate herein the following paragraph from my Foreign Office note No. 68 of June 9, 1914:

It is believed that it will be considered beyond debate, also, that the ability to maintain order consists not alone in the restoral of quiet after a debacle of passion, but also in the visitation of punishment upon those involved so swiftly and so severely that they themselves and others will be given such warning and’ restraint thereby that like violations of the laws of God and man will not be repeated and intimate and affectionate feelings between two Governments wounded and subjected to strain.

In other words, needed measures in dealing with offenses of this kind are those of prevention as well as redress, and the Panaman Government, by its failure to adopt such measures of prevention, is charged now all the more heavily with a large degree of responsibility for whatever excesses the policemen may have indulged in upon the recent deplorable outbreak.

Respectfully soliciting the attention to the importance to which this communication attains, and to the firmness of resolve of my Government, which has given expression to the specific instructions herein which I have been charged so emphatically to communicate to your excellency’s Government,

I avail [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.