File No. No. 763.72112Aml/27

The Chargé in Honduras ( Belt) to the Secretary of State


Department’s January 12, 6 p.m. [January 21, 7 p.m.?], January 25, noon. My January 21, 11 a.m. [January 22, 2 a.m.?],1 January 23, 11 p.m.,1 regarding Amapala situation.

On 24th, accompanied by newly appointed Minister to Washington, representatives of Pacific Mail and Rosario, visited President. Those points Government failed to make clear discussed thoroughly and an oral understanding reached.

Informed President in view of importance entire situation considered it advisable his Government be formally addressed by note. After considerable discussion he finally gave his consent.

On [January] 25 addressed formal note embodying entire first paragraph Department’s January 22, 6 p.m. [January 21, 7 p.m.], regarding Sacate Grande proposition, also first half of second paragraph, but avoided giving definite assurances that note of Honduranean Government, dated January 18, would be acceptable until Legation received answer to note of agreement in conference with President on 24th.

Legation’s note of the 25th further distinctly set forth five points which appear in the following, dated today, herewith transmitted in full as requested. Note follows:

Tegucigalpa, January 27, 1918.

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: I acknowledge receipt of your esteemed note dated the 25th of the current month relative to the retirement of the steamers from the port of Amapala motivated by the fact that the agencies of this commerce in that port are conducted by citizens of the German Empire considered as enemies by the act of the American Congress to which Your Honor alludes, with whom it is prohibited to citizens of the United States of America to enter into commercial relations. The Government of Honduras being a friend and ally of the United States of America proceeded immediately with the embargo of the launches of the mentioned agencies to the effect of taking charge through special employees of the operations which before were effected by the German houses.

My Government believed that this would be sufficient to satisfy completely the desires of the Government of the United States of America, as the German houses in the port of Amapala disappearing, the clauses of the aforementioned act of Congress were fulfilled. [Page 383] Notwithstanding, in view of the points which Your Honor submits in your note of the 25th alluded to, so that they may be answered by this Government, through deference and to give once more proof of the special consideration which it owes that of the United States, it has no objection to do so in the following form.

To the first which literally says: Will the Government of Honduras retain up to the end of the present World War the lighters of the German firms at present seized by the Government of Your Excellency? I answer that the Government of Honduras will retain said lighters up to the end of the present World War. [To the second which reads: Is the present plan of action of Your Excellency’s Government not to grant a concession or special privilege to any agency that has been or may be established in the port of Amapala? Is the business to be conducted in Amapala of a competitive nature? I reply that the Government of Honduras will grant no privilege or concession in this respect. To the third which reads: Will the income derived by Your Excellency’s Government from the temporary operation of the lighters in the port of Amapala be retained by the Government of Honduras and not turned over to the Germans or German firms or agents of said firms established in Amapala? I reply that the Government will retain the proceeds of the freights and will not remit them to the Germans or German firms or their agents. To the fourth which reads: Is Your Excellency’s Government’s present plan of action lighters in the port of Amapala temporarily until persons desiring to establish an agency are afforded the opportunity to obtain the required for effective operation? I reply that the plan of the Government of Honduras is to operate the lighterage service as long as it deems it necessary to the interest of general commrece. To the fifth which reads: Will the Government of Honduras allow reasonable time to the agency that may wish to establish itself in Amapala in which to register the company or agencies under the laws of Honduras? I reply that the Government has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter of this inquiry. Anyone may individually attend to the registration of one’s own business or for the account of a third party on any day one sees fit and, in the case of a company, in so far as it shall have complied with the requirements of the commercial law.1]

In the express terms I have received instructions from Mr. President to answer the various questions contained in Your Honor’s aforementioned note dated the 25th of the current month.

I shelter the hope that with such explicit declarations of my Government the difficulties which have arisen in the port of Amapala for the regular passage of steamers will cease. With sentiments of my distinguished consideration, etc. Signed, Mariano Vásquez.

Respectfully suggest, if this settlement of Amapala situation entirely satisfactory, prompt reply in most friendly terms and immediate [Page 384] resumption of steamer service at Amapala. Government somewhat uneasy as to claims that may result to Germany after and look to United States for protection.

Representatives Pacific Mail, Rosario, Consider note entirely satisfactory and will take immediate steps to establish agency upon approval of United States Government. Most anxious next steamer call Amapala. Any further parleys would not be taken gratefully [gracefully], Government considering it has effectively settled entire situation. Prompt reply respectfully requested.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The bracketed portion of note is in accordance with the Department translation of a repetition of the Spanish text cabled Feb. 3 by the Legation at the request of the Secretary of State. (File No. 763.72112Aml/36.)