File No. 319.1123L25/24.

Minister Price to the Secretary of State.

[Extract.]
No. 708.]

Sir: Referring to my despatch No. 675 of November 11, I have the honor to transmit a copy and translation of a note received from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs last Saturday. I have made prompt response and send also a copy of same.

Brigadier General C. R. Edwards, Military Commander of the Canal Zone, having designated Captain Oliver Edwards as the representative of the military authorities in such further investigation as might be had herein, I sent him copies of Señor Lefevre’s note and of my response and suggested that he have Captain Edwards come down promptly and let me forthwith present him to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and attend the further proceedings in these matters under the limitation of authority suggested by the Department in its instruction No. 191 of October 19 last. Pursuant thereto I have this afternoon presented Captain Edwards at the Foreign Office, and Señor Lefevre set Friday next for him to meet with the Attorney General in conjunction with Señor Lefevre, and to make arrangements for the hearing of additional witnesses and the pressing forward of the investigation of the late riots in the cities of Panama and Colon.

General Edwards advises that the list of soldier witnesses to be presented before the Panaman authorities will now be furnished within a few days.

I have [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.
[Inclosure 1—Translation.]

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Minister Price.

No. S–8533.]

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to refer to the polite notes of your excellency, Nos. 234, 253, and 260, of the 7th and 30th of October and of the 8th instant, relating to the happenings in Colon on April 2 last.

[Page 1220]

As additional information to that which I was glad to send to your excellency in my note of September 30, I shall have the honor to include, as soon as I receive it from Colon, a list of the policemen who were on duty in the city of Colon on April 2.

As I said in the above-mentioned note, this office, as an act of courtesy towards your excellency’s Government and in order to give a proof of the impartiality with which the Panaman judicial power proceeds, has been studying, in conjunction with the office of the Prosecuting Attorney, the means by which your Legation can have representation at the hearing of the recent criminal causes resulting in riots in the cities of Colon and Panama, in which American citizens were involved; and now I am glad to tell your excellency that the Prosecuting Attorney of the Superior Court thinks that the only way of obtaining this end, in conformity to our law, is that your excellency appoint a representative who shall get in touch with him and who can ask questions and cross-questions during the progress of the case, through the Prosecuting Attorney, and acquire in this way the necessary information and bring into the case nil the proofs he desires and which have not been recognized by our judicial authorities.

In virtue of which I beg your excellency, if you think it suitable, to appoint this representative, who should know Spanish and if possible have some knowledge of our laws.

I permit myself to remind your excellency that as yet this office has not received the names of the witnesses which the American military authorities hold ready to testify before our judicial authorities, according to the statement of your excellency, and I request you to please send it as soon as possible so as to avoid further delay in the hearing of the case.

I take [etc.]

E. T. Lefevre.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Price to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

No. 267.]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on Saturday of your excellency’s note No. S–8533, in response to several late notes of mine relating to the matter of the riot in the city of Colon on April 2 last.

Your excellency will permit me to express regret that none of the questions seeking information respecting the investigation in this matter which were left unanswered by your excellency’s note, No. S–8057, of September 30 last, is yet answered by the note now received, including the list of policemen on duty in Colon on the day mentioned, and as well the designation of which of the witnesses were eye-witnesses in the list of those submitted by your excellency’s former note.

I note that your excellency states that your excellency’s office in conjunction with the Prosecuting Attorney has been studying the means by which this Legation can have representation at the hearing of the recent criminal causes resulting in riots in the cities of Panama and Colon, and that your excellency reports that the Prosecuting Attorney of the Superior Court thinks that the only way of obtaining this end is for such a representative to get in touch with him, and who thus will be given the privilege of asking questions during the progress of the cases, but only through the medium of the Prosecuting Attorney, and thus to acquire information useful in bringing into the cases testimony which may not have been presented by the judicial authorities of Panama. Your excellency is kind enough to offer to suggest that this representative be appointed.

In reply thereto, I have the honor to advise your excellency that Brigadier General C. R. Edwards, Military Commander of the Canal Zone, has designated Captain Oliver Edwards as the representative of our military authorities in the Canal Zone to attend the prosecutions conducted by your excellency’s authorities in said cases, provided this may be acceptable to your excellency’s Government; but said representative under all the circumstances will not take part in the conduct of such prosecution. This Legation, while appreciating the courtesy of the offer of your excellency, in view of the whole situation will offer no one as its representative in a capacity described by your excellency.

It is presumed that in no sense will it be expected by your excellency’s Government that any part taken by any one connected with my Government in [Page 1221]these matters will be construed as any assumption of responsibility for the institution or outcome of any investigation or prosecution herein, and acting upon said presumption the designation of Captain Edwards is made.

There is further noted the reminder of your excellency’s note that the names of witnesses which the American military authorities hold ready to testify before Panaman judicial authorities have not been sent in.

In view of the prolonged delay of your excellency’s authorities in furnishing my Government information asked for in this matter, the tardiness of such investigation as has been made, the failure thus far to give any information as to which of the comparatively small number of witnesses having any direct knowledge of the happenings on said occasion, and the further fact that your excellency in your note of September 30 represented that you would later communicate the decision that might be arrived at with reference to the manner that my Government might have representation in these affairs in connection with the assurance that my Government would ha thus convinced that the investigation is being carried on by your excellency’s authorities with all possible decision and justice, it seemed the proper conclusion that your excellency did not expect the list of the witnesses examined by our military authorities, who have been available to your excellency’s Government ever since the happening of this event, until my Government might have the additional communication proffered as aforesaid in your excellency’s note above mentioned.

My Government would be pleased to know the present status of this investigation and what, if any, further steps have been taken since the receipt of your excellency’s said note, No. S–8057, of September 30, beyond the reaching of the conclusion communicated by the last note of your excellency, regarding the manner in which a representation from our authorities might be permitted to take any part in this investigation.

Again I would respectfully request for my Government the balance of the information now so many times asked for and that the good offices of your excellency may be exerted so that all diligent and sustained efforts on the part of those having responsibilities in these matters without further delays may be put forth to remedy the wrongs committed on the occasions of these riots, and to search out those guilty and to impose penalties of a character that should be a deterrent in the future against a repetition of such events.

I avail [etc.]

Wm. Jennings Price.