811.822/38a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Colombia (Philip)

The Department of Commerce is anxious to obtain permission from the Government of Colombia to erect aids to navigation, one on the eastern or southern part of Old Providence Island and the other on one of the Courtown Cays. Should permission be accorded the lights will be unwatched lights exhibited from the tops of small, steel skeleton towers about 40 feet high, placed on concrete blocks. The area required for each tower will be a small tract of land about 50 feet square. The lights may be placed in charge of the proper local officer of the government of each island. The United States will pay all expenses of erecting and maintaining the lights, including the pay for such local services of attendance as is required. The lights would require inspection probably two or three times a year by a representative of the Lighthouse Service of this country, but otherwise it would not be necessary for the United States to have any employee at the light station, except such service as would be employed locally.

You will immediately ask the Government of Colombia if it will be kind enough to permit the erection of these lights which it is believed will greatly facilitate navigation in the waters near these islands and will minimize the danger at present attendant upon such navigation.

You will also inform the Government of Colombia that this request does not signify the taking of any attitude on the part of the United States Government toward the various claims concerning the sovereignty of the islands in question.

[Page 796]

Proclamation No. 1512, February 25, 1919, of the Reservation for Lighthouse Purposes of Gays on Serrana and Quita Sueño Banks

By the President of the United States of America


Whereas, the Congress of the United States has provided by act of August 18, 1856 (11 U.S. Statutes at Large, page 119; Sees. 5570 to 5578 U.S. Revised Statutes), that whenever any citizen of the United States, after the passage of the act, discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other Government and shall take peaceable possession thereof and occupy the same, the island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President of the United States, be considered as appertaining to the United States.

And whereas, pursuant to the foregoing act of Congress, Serrana and Quita Sueño Banks in the western part of the Caribbean Sea are now under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any other government.

Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested, do hereby declare, proclaim, and make known that the southwest cay of Serrana Banks and the north, or other suitable portion, of Quita Sueño Banks, including any small detached cays surrounding either of these banks which the Department of Commerce may desire, be and the same are reserved for lighthouse purposes, such reservations being deemed necessary in the public interests, subject to such legislative action as the Congress of the United States may take with respect thereto.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Woodrow Wilson

By the President:
Frank L. Polk
Acting Secretary of State.