File No. 817.812/153

The Minister of Costa Rica to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary: The many exacting occupations which in the world’s present situation are now overwhelming your excellency surely prevented your devoting the needful time to a study of the note which I had the honor to address to you on the 2d instant protesting against the consummation of the Bryan-Chamorro Canal Treaty and of the memorandum on the subject published by the legation’s counsel, Mr. Harry W. Van Dyke, of which I took the liberty to hand several copies to your excellency.

I say that surely your excellency has not yet been able to examine the said documents because, besides the fact that my above-mentioned note has not yet been honored with an answer, the Senate in the afternoon of the 18th of this month saw fit to clothe with its high approval the treaty which Costa Rica, insuperably in the right, had impugned.

No matter how great the respect and weight that belong to the opinion of the Senate, the favorable action it took on the negotiation does not in the least alter the nature of the case.

The Senate by endorsing the agreement signed by ex-Secretary Bryan could not in any way free that agreement from the fundamental defect which invalidates it, Nicaragua’s incomplete capacity to conduct the business.

On this occasion the United States have dealt with an incompetent person, a person therefore that was not qualified to assume obligations and the convention by which the United States thought it had secured a right is nothing more—and the current phrase may justly be used here—than a mere scrap of paper.

Innocuous as the Senate’s action may be in its effect on the merits of the case, it has nevertheless injected an element of notable change in the situation of Costa Rica; the injury which my Government protested was caused by the contemptuous slight of its rights in concluding unbeknown to it a convention about which it should have been consulted from the first has ceased to be a potentiality to be turned into a fact, a fait accompli. And inasmuch as the vital defect which invalidates the treaty and upon which my Government looks as a grave injury to the sovereign integrity of Costa Rica, dated from the very moment when the convention was negotiated, there is no remedial value in the clause inserted at the eleventh hour without the previous knowledge and therefore without the assent of the Legation, in the text of the convention to the effect of safeguarding the rights of other parties that have deemed themselves affected by the pact.

For many long months my Government has been actively engaged in opposing this consummation with that of your excellency and now that all its efforts have been in vain, there is but one resource left to me for the present, that of entering a formal protest against what [Page 819] has been done pending the receipt of further instructions pointing out the best way, in my Government’s judgment, to settle the very regrettable difficulty which now confronts us.

I beg [etc.]

Manuel Castro Quesada