File No. 817.812/147

The Minister of Costa Rica to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: Great and well founded was the surprise I experienced this evening on reading in to-day’s Washington paper, The Evening Star, the news that the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had favorably reported to that high body the treaty for the construction of an interoceanic canal and other purposes concluded more than a year ago by his excellency the Honorable Secretary of State, W. J. Bryan, with the most excellent the Minister of Nicaragua, General Don Emiliano Chamorro.

It is not yet a month, Mr. Secretary, since the Most Excellent the President of the United States delivered before a thousand and more delegates of the several nations with which this continent is divided the most telling and admirable speech on the proper way of understanding Pan Americanism, on the utter respect to be paid by all our Republics to the rights of each and every one of them and on the perfect equality that must prevail in their intercourse.2

Scarcely a week before your excellency had deigned to put in my hands a draft of a Pan American treaty which embodies in pertinent and appropriate clauses the noble and redeeming ideas so masterly uttered by the Most Excellent President Wilson on the memorable evening of January 7 last.

In view of those precedents your excellency will admit that it was not logical to suppose that this Government would offer to carry through a treaty one of the parties to which, Nicaragua, is expressly inhibited from concluding it, the inhibition being solemnly pronounced by the very President of the other Party, the United States.

A treaty which carries flagrant violation of the rights of a third Party, Costa Rica, and against which my Government has lodged reiterated protests with the Department of State.

The United States in dealing with Nicaragua in this case has done so with a disqualified party, and ignorance of such incapacity cannot be pleaded since it is of record in the archives in the Department [Page 812] of State that it was no less a personage than one of the Presidents of the Union that so declared.

Costa Rica does not and never did systematically oppose the advance of progress. She takes into full and fair account the fact that the ever growing needs that go with civilization demand that another interoceanic highway paralled to the Panama Canal be opened to the commerce of the world in the near future and my country knows full well the laughable result to which her own resources would lead if she attempted to assume such a huge undertaking on her own account.

My Government further comprehends the incontrovertible reasons which make of the United States the one nation which is called upon to do that great service to mankind, but it wishes that end to be achieved without undergoing the humiliation attending the offensive disregard of her legitimate, indisputable and recognized rights that has been heretofore evinced.

Encouraged by the high sense of justice which so highly distinguishes the eminent mandatory who now guides the destines of this great nation and you, his worthy and illustrious coworker, I respectfully ask your excellency to please take such steps as may be necessary to prevent the consummation of the treaty herein referred to until the stipulations laid down by the Most Excellent the President of the United States, the Honorable Grover Cleveland, in his award of March 22, 1888,3 shall have been observed.

It affords me [etc.]

Manuel Castro Quesada
  1. Address of President Wilson before the Second Pan American Scientific Congress at Washington, January 7, 1916, Daily Bulletin of the Congress, Department of State Library, JX1424C7Sc26, 1915/16.
  2. For. Rel. 1888, p. 456 et seq.