The Colombian Minister (Urueta) to the Secretary of State

No. 5402

Sir: As Your Excellency is aware, the Senate of the United States in ratifying on April 20 of the present year the Treaty of April 6, 1914, signed between my country and that of Your Excellency, included this final resolution:

Resolved further, That the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty signed by the plenipotentiaries of the United States and the Republic of Colombia on April 6, 1914, providing for the settlement of differences between the United States and the Republic-of Colombia, with the understanding to be made a part of such treaty and ratification, that the provisions of section 1 of Article I of the treaty granting to the Republic of Colombia free passage through the Panama Canal for its troops, materials of war, and ships of war, shall not apply in case of war between the Republic of Colombia and any other country.”

It is the understanding of this Legation and of its Government, from the wording itself of the explanation quoted above, from the spirit and import of the treaty, and also from the record of the [Page 640] debates in the Senate, that the latter’s final resolution refers solely to the exemption from dues which were stipulated in article I of the treaty in favor of the warships and war materials of Colombia and of her troops, in the event of war between my country and any other, and in no wise—particularly not for the purpose of debarring or limiting them to the detriment of Colombia—to the rights recognized by the United States as belonging to all nations in the Hay–Pauncefote Treaty celebrated in 1901 between the United States and Great Britain.7 In other words, this Legation and its Government understand that in the contingency contemplated by the Senate of the United States, that is, a war between Colombia and some other country, Colombia will not, by the resolution of the Senate of the United States in its ratification of the treaty of April 6, 1914, be placed under any disadvantage in the Panama Canal in the transport of troops, vessels, and materials of war, as compared with the other belligerent or belligerents.

The amendments made by the Senate of the United States to the treaty of 1914 being at present under consideration by the Congress of my country, and the resolution which is the subject of this note not having been included in previous discussions between the two Governments, I deem it expedient to inquire of Your Excellency, as I have done herein in order to avoid misunderstanding, whether Your Excellency’s Government has any objection to make to the interpretation that the Government of Colombia and its Legation have given to the resolution of the Senate of the United States referred to above.

I express my deepest thanks beforehand for Your Excellency’s answer.

Accept [etc.]

C. A. Urueta
  1. Supplied by the editor.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1901, p. 241.