718.1915/735: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Costa Rica (Davis)34

21. The Panaman Minister Saturday and today discussed informally the boundary situation. It appears that Panama would accept as a compromise over the so-called Bravo line proposed by Panama in 1924 a line from the vicinity of Cañas Gordas to Meridian 83 and thence along the Meridian to the sea. This would be in lieu of any indemnity and would also comprise the return of Costa Rica’s trophies of war.

It is understood that Fabrega will make this proposal to Costa Rica. What in your opinion would be the attitude of Costa Rica toward such a settlement? The Department realizes that Costa Rica is in a strong position in insisting upon the line of the Loubet Award or a modification that would make mutual concessions. The Department understands however that it is the view of the Panaman Government that the Loubet line being mentioned in the Panaman Constitution35 as its boundary it could not constitutionally give up any territory on the Panaman side thereof. The Department would be glad to see an amicable settlement arrived at which would be satisfactory to both parties. The Department desires you to be very careful however not to give the impression that the Department supports the present Panaman proposal or that it considers the Panaman claim for indemnity a valid one.

The Department informed the Panaman Government last February that it could not support the Panaman claim for indemnity. On the other hand the Department does not desire to do anything which would interfere with the Panaman negotiations for a settlement of this matter and you should therefore be careful not to express any opinion on this point. Please keep the Department fully informed of developments and should the Panaman proposal not be acceptable to Costa Rica please advise what solution would in your opinion be acceptable to the Costa Rican Government.

In view of the position which the Department has taken regarding the validity of the White Award and the Loubet line it cannot formally suggest any other line but it would nevertheless be gratified should Costa Rica, in view of the fact that the Loubet line gives Costa Rica so much more than it was willing to accept under the Guardia-Pacheco [Page 478] Treaty,36 grant Panama some consideration on the Pacific as an act of comity in the interest of peace and orderly procedure in Central America. The Department desires your personal views in the premises before authorizing you to discuss the matter discreetly with Costa Rican officials.

  1. Repeated to Panama as the Department’s telegram No. 70 of the same date.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1904, p. 562.
  3. An unperfected treaty between Costa Rica and Panama, signed Mar. 5, 1905, which would have carried out, with modifications, the Loubet award. It was replaced by the Anderson-Porras treaty of Mar. 17, 1910, which submitted the boundary question to the arbitration of the Chief Justice of the United States; his decision, the White award, was rendered on Sept. 12, 1914. See Foreign Relations, 1910, pp. 788789.