The Panamas Chargé (Lefevre) to the Acting Secretary of State
Excellency: I take the liberty to inform Your Excellency that under date of September 18 of last year the Governor of the Canal Zone wrote a communication to the President of the Republic of Panama in which he informed him that in accordance with article [Page 316]II of the Canal Treaty the United States Government had occupied a certain tract of Panaman land called Largo Remo in Las Minas Bay adjoining the Panama Canal Zone, deeming it necessary for the protection of the Panama Canal. In order to have this important business transacted through the regular channels, the President of Panama referred that communication from the Governor of the Canal to the Secretary of Foreign Relations; and, in view of the foregoing, the Secretary of that Department has instructed me to say to the Government of the United States through Your Excellency’s worthy medium that the Panaman Government regards the proceeding adopted on that occasion by the authorities of the Panama Canal as irregular, as the land above mentioned was occupied without giving any previous notice whatever of that decision, thus apparently ignoring the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Panama over the said land.
The Secretary of Foreign Relations of my country directs me to say to Your Excellency at the same time that my Government trusts that the Government of the United States will, as it has done in former cases, indemnify the Republic of Panama for the loss of the territory just occupied by the Canal Zone authorities, wherein Your Excellency’s colleague, the Honorable Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, concurs.
I further deem it proper most respectfully to draw Your Excellency’s attention to the expediency of establishing, through an agreement between the State Department and the Legation, the modus operandi to be followed hereafter whenever the Government of the United States may find itself under the necessity of availing itself of the faculty conferred upon it by article II of the Canal Treaty.4 That treaty, as is well known to Your Excellency, is a law substantive and therefore requires for its interpretation and application, in cases like that under consideration, a modus operandi to be established in the manner observed on a similar occasion under the administration of President Roosevelt who specially delegated to his Secretary of War, the Honorable W. H. Taft, the power to bring to a satisfactory solution the differences of interpretation and action that had then arisen.5
Taking into account the fact that the Governments of the United States and Panama are equally interested in having our close relations progress not only in the best harmony and without the slightest friction, but also be marked by a signal spirit of cooperation and inspired by the most cordial sentiments of friendship, I take the [Page 317]liberty of informing Your Excellency that I have my Government’s full power to proceed with Your Excellency in bringing about equitable and satisfactory conclusions for the legitimate interests of our two countries which would avert the difficulties and differences that have arisen until now and may arise in the future.
With sentiments [etc.]