The Minister in Costa Rica ( Sack ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 1.]
Sir: In further reference to the Department’s Instruction No. 146 of March 30, 1935,24 I have the honor to report that Mr. E. W. James [Page 251] of the Bureau of Public Roads of the Department of Agriculture in Washington, and Mr. George Curtis Peck of the same organization, arrived in San José on April 13 by airplane from Panama in their efforts to arouse a more active interest in the Central American countries in the proposed Inter-American Highway.
On the afternoon of their arrival I took both gentlemen to call on Foreign Minister Gurdián who expressed to them his great interest in the project and his eagerness to have the Costa Rican section of the highway completed as soon as possible. At the same time Mr. Gurdián pointed out, as previous reported by this Legation in Despatch No. 626 of February 25, 1935,25 that the Costa Rican Government at the present moment does not see its way clear to undertake the expensive task of building this highway north to the Nicaraguan border and south to the Panamanian border. Mr. Gurdián added that just as soon as funds are available the Costa Rican Government will energetically set about building the highway south to the Panamanian border because he and his associates feel that the completion of the south link will immediately open to Costa Rica great sources of revenues from tourists in Panama and in the Canal Zone, and from the sale of Costa Rican commodities including meats, vegetables, flowers, et cetera to Panama and the Canal Zone.
Messrs. James and Peck informed Mr. Gurdián that their visit was for the purpose of being as helpful as possible in assisting this Government and other Central American Governments in working out plans for the highway and that they had come here for the purpose also of informally ascertaining how a portion of the million dollars appropriated by the last Congress could intelligently and equitably be allocated to Costa Rica. Mr. James pointed out that any monies which might be allocated to Costa Rica would be for the purpose of assisting the Government in carrying out the main project and would be for a purpose necessary to the earlier completion of the highway and its general utility.
No commitments were made at the conference other than those explained above by either Mr. Gurdián or Messrs. James and Peck. At the termination of the conference Mr. Gurdián telephoned to Mr. Ricardo Pacheco Lara, who had then been designated as Minister of Fomento and was planning to take over his new office within ten days (see Despatch No. 690 of April 23rd25), to fix an appointment for that afternoon.
Although I did not accompany Messrs. James and Peck to the conference with Mr. Pacheco, I understand that Mr. Pacheco expressed his keen interest in the proposal and his eagerness to see the highway [Page 252] completed at the earliest possible date. Mr. Pacheco in a subsequent newspaper interview said: “I listened to their statements and explained to them that I could not give them any answer until after taking charge of the Ministry and that I would talk over the matter with the President of the Republic.”
He added that he will discuss the project with President Jiménez at the first opportunity “with the object of solving this matter”.
During their visit here Messrs. James and Peck gave out many newspaper interviews all for the purpose of stimulating interest and I understand that accompanied by Mr. Juan Matamoros, prominent Costa Rican engineer who has had highway construction experience, they visited outlying portions of the Meseta Central where the proposed highway will traverse.
Mr. James promised to give the Legation, before leaving Costa Rica, a memorandum of his conversations and activities here and his impressions but he and Mr. Peck left San José on April 22nd without saying goodby either to the Minister or Secretary Drew or any of the Legation staff. It is quite possible that Mr. James and Mr. Peck found it necessary to leave a day or so earlier than they anticipated and therefore were unable to give the Legation the benefit of their observations and conversations.
From San José the Bureau of Public Roads officials went to Puntarenas on the Pacific coast from which point they plan to proceed north by boat and by horseback to the Nicaraguan border following as much as possible the proposed route of the highway.