The Secretary of War (Baker) to the Secretary of State


Sir: With reference to previous correspondence relative to the acquisition of land on Taboga Island, Republic of Panama, I have [Page 321] the honor to invite your attention to the enclosed copy of a letter from the Governor of the Panama Canal, dated June 18, 1920,6 and enclosures thereto.7

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Newton D. Baker

The Panaman Sub-Secretary of Foreign Relations (Hazera) to the Executive Secretary of the Panama Canal (Mcllvaine)

S.P.No. 1362

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I received in due time the courteous letters dated the 25th of May and the 9th of June, from the Executive Department of the Panama Canal, in the first of which, Acting Governor Col. Morrow transmitted the cablegram from His Excellency the Secretary of War of the United States, dated the 22nd of May, relative to Taboga Island and in the last one it was asked that the President of the Republic approve a plan inclosed therewith and issue certain orders to facilitate the purchasing of the property marked in such plan as required by the Government of the United States of America.

I transmitted such letters to the President, and he has asked me to answer them as follows:

“The question of the acquisition by the Government of the United States of a portion of the island of Taboga for the defense of the Canal, has been and at present is the subject of diplomatic negotiations between the Governments of our two countries by the means used in such cases, and up to now the two Governments have not reached an understanding as to the absolute necessity of using the said portion of the island of Taboga, nor have they come to an understanding as to the interpretation to be given to article II of the Canal Treaty.”

The Panama Government insists that in order that the government of the United States may obtain a legal valid title over any portion of the island of Taboga, a special agreement must be entered into between the two countries, as the jurisdiction and domain of the Sovereign cannot be transferred by official communications exchanged between subordinate employees.

But as the Panama Government does not wish to hamper the work of the Governor of the Canal Zone, as the same might have an urgent nature, it agrees in the provisional occupation of the areas [Page 322] marked in the map attached, which cover in all an extension of 14 hectares, 9500 square meters, leaving to the pending diplomatic negotiations the question of arranging the form that this concession should have in order to make it valid and final, as well as the procedure for the indemnification to the private owners and the compensation to which the Republic is entitled. Therefore, the Executive Power has issued Decree No. 15 today, provisionally permitting the Government of the United States to use, occupy and control the areas mentioned, commencing on the 16th instant.

It must be likewise understood that there shall remain excluded from such areas, the road that leads from the town to the port or cove of Ancon, so that the inhabitants may always enjoy the right-of-way while going from the northern to the southern part of the island, by the road over which they transit now.

In accordance with your request, I return herewith one of the plans sent by you. The other one shall be kept confidentially as desired by you.

I am [etc.]

Evenor Hazera
  1. Not printed.
  2. Only one enclosure printed.