File No. 819.154/26

The Minister of Panama to the Secretary of State


Excellency: Upon receipt of your excellency’s memorandum9 answering, after conscientious expert study of and mature reflection on the subject, the memoranda of April 27 and May 15 last of the Panama War Commission of which I had the honor to be president, I hastened to forward a copy of it to the Secretary of State of my country and I have just now received his instructions directing me to say to your excellency how highly my Government values the reception accorded to the Commission by your excellency and the final decision of the Government of the United States to build, without cost to Panama, the roads needed for the defense of the Canal, some of which, laid without the Zone, must prove positively beneficial to Panama.

The outcome of the discussion of the road question in the Commission being that the roads are to be built by engineers, foremen [Page 1203] and laborers chosen by your excellency’s Government, that is to say, under your Government’s direction and paid out of funds of the Treasury of the United States, it is clear that the setting of the date on which the work is to begin lies in the discretion of your excellency’s Government, and it is also clear that it is for its officials and agents in the Canal Zone or those it may send from this country to decide as to the direction, kind or quality, and other particulars of the mode of construction. Yet owing to the beneficial consequences to my country, my Government wishes to know, if possible, when the roads are to be begun, whether it shall be at an early date, and whether Panama may indulge the hope to see in the near future a realization of what has heretofore been but a dream on account of her scanty resources. The circumstance that those roads which my country needs, so much more now than ever, by reason of the World War, for the unbroken and speedy transportation of all the commodities for which there is such a demand in Panama and Colon and in the Canal Zone itself which are grown outside of the Zone and far from those cities in our territory, enhances our desire that the work on the roads be started at once, without any delay. Can your excellency tell me whether it is going to be done now or in the near future? If you can, you will give me great satisfaction and the news will fulfill the highest hopes not only of my Government but also of all in my country.

Be pleased [etc.]

Belisario Porras
  1. See footnote to letter from Lieut. Colonel Brown to Mr. Stabler, dated June 20, 1917, p. 1201.