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answer you receive is this: “How do you entertain the most extravagant misconexpect us to trust you after the way you ceptions of the facts at issue and particuhave treated Colombia?”
larly of conditions in the United States. Diplomatic negotiations so far having No two political factions are agreed as to failed, there has been growing in this coun- what would be an equitable settlement. try a sentiment in favor of submitting You ask them, “What does Colombia Colombia's claims to arbitration, on the want?" and they answer: "Colombia theory that unless an equally fair and more wants its rights; it demands the treatment effective method of adjustment can be that a sovereign and self-respecting people agreed upon, the United States cannot should receive from other nations. But consistently refuse longer to take the issue when it comes to defining those rights to The Hague.
explicitly in respect to the seizure of So long as there was a Republican Panama, they are lost in a wilderness of Administration at Washington arbitration discord. Before there can be an effective seemed to be Colombia's only recourse, for settlement there must be a crystallization without repudiating the acts of his own of public opinion in Colombia, and a more party a Republican President could not general knowledge among its people of the approach the Panama question from a rights and wrongs of the issue between the point of view that could be reconciled with two countries. Colombia's. With a Democratic Adminis- Multifactional politics, with attendant tration arbitration should not be necessary, jealousies and public distrust of party for in international disputes as well as leaders, make it imperative that the disputes between persons settlements out negotiations should be conducted in Bogotá of court leave little of the bitterness and with the greatest possible publicity. engendered by settlement forced by a No one Colombian could be entrusted with court, and arbitration would involve years the final negotiation of the Panama settleof delay. Judicial determination of some ment without being the target of suspicion of the questions of fact relating to the and distrust of his factional opponents. Panama revolution would be now well- The two old political parties in Colombia nigh impossible, for the most essential (Conservative, or clerical, and Liberal) witnesses have died — many of them with- have been split into six groups. A seventh, in the last four years. The expense of the Republican party, a coalition of proarbitration would be tremendous, and gressives, obtained a balance of power there would inevitably be scandals both in only long enough to elect the present Colombia and the United States over the President, Dr. Carlos E. Restrepo. The expenses and fees of lawyers and other popular assumption is that any man who agents who already have shown their might effect the settlement of the Panama hand by pretending to sell legislative and controversy would be the people's idol newspaper influence in behalf of Colombia. and the next President; wherefore every Instead of restoring friendly feeling, arbi- faction jealously guards against the allottration would prolong the bitterness. ment of this opportunity to one of its
And it is doubtful if in the end any award opponents. But a commission composed of damages, no matter how large, would of a leader of each of the factions could satisfy Colombia.
deal directly with the American represenThe Colombian Minister to Washington, tative. A frank and full discussion of the
. Mr. Julio Betancourt, has been pressing facts in the presence of the Colombian
, for arbitration because sentiment in his people - putting all the cards on the country has demanded some kind of action table, so to speak — would soon lead to a and the people there have grown impatient better understanding, for it would quickly waiting for the United States to make the be apparent that the seizure of Panama first move. But the truth is that there is was not an injury purposely inflicted by no real consensus of public opinion in the people of one country upon the people Colombia on the Panama question. of another, but that in each country there Many of that country's leading men still were provocations and misunderstandings.
It is a common error for us in the United money will not satisfy the Colombians States to assume that money will repair The publication of the terms of the proany injury, will buy any man or any posed settlement met a storm of protest measure in the Spanish-speaking countries, President Reyes cabled to Minister Cortes just as it is an equally common assumption to suggest to the United States that i below the Rio Grande that every Yankee make a naval demonstration off the Colomis an imperialist and that our national bian coast to help him force ratification : characteristic is “Yanqui bluff.”
the treaty, but his cable message leaked The Roosevelt Administration assumed into the public prints in time to upset aii that Colombia's reason for rejecting the his plans. Colombia rose in vehement Hay-Herran Treaty for acquisition of the denunciation.
denunciation. General Reyes's life was Canal Zone was purely a mercenary one not safe. On a pretext of official business -- blackmail. It ignored the fact that the he made his way from the capital to the Colombian Constitution forbade aliena- coast, slunk aboard a banana freighter tion of any part of the national territory; bound for Europe, and has not since set it refused to wait for an amendment of his foot on Colombian soil, that Constitution, but “took Panama," Minister Cortes's political existence was and for five years met Colombia's protests snuffed out in the same blast of popular with the denial of the fact so frankly indignation. From Washington he went to acknowledged later.
Europe and two years later, when it might Colombia's petition for arbitration, pre- be supposed that his hated treaty had sented by its Minister to Washington, Dr. been forgotten (no president has ever Diego Mendoza Perez, was curtly refused. since dared to submit it to the Colombian Through influences in the United States Congress for ratification) General Cortes Dr. Mendoza was replaced by Enrique landed unheralded at Puerto Colombia, Cortes, a business associate and trusted the seaport of Barranquilla. He got no agent of General Rafael Reyes, president farther than the city. “Cortes the of Colombia, who had fallen under the traitor” was met by a mob. They forced influence of Mr. William Nelson Cromwell, this one-time distinguished citizen to leave the attorney for the Panama Canal Com- his carriage and walk through the dusty pany. General Reyes acceded to Mr. streets back to the ship from which he had Cromwell's scheme to pacify Colombia, debarked. . and to this end the “good offices” of the Similar ostracism and exile await any Roosevelt Administration were enlisted by Colombian who shall propose a settlement Mr. Cromwell. The result was the nego- incompatible with that people's sense of tiation of the Root-Cortes-Arosemena their national honor, which we in the Treaty and its ratification by the United United States apparently are prone to States Senate and by the Panamanian underestimate. Government near the end of President The Taft Administration at first atRoosevelt's term.
tempted to adhere to the policy of its preThis tripartite treaty provided for decessor, but when Colonel Roosevelt Colombia's recognition of the independence made his frank public acknowledgment of Panama and the payment by Panama that he "took Panama," Mr. Taft decided of $2,500,000 toward the Colombian foreign to ignore Colombia's representations no debt, the money to be advanced by the longer. Loyal to his party and unwilling United States on account of rental for the to compromise it even after Colonel RooseCanal Zone. Thus the United States made velt's admission, Mr. Taft sought still to no acknowledgment of responsibility for beg the real question of international good the secession of Panama and appeared faith and national honor, and yet to pay only in the role of a beneficent neighbor, the price, by offering to buy from Colombia while Colombia was to bow to the humilia- a concession for the interoceanic canal tion of her dismemberment.
route via the Atrato River, and the coaling The fate of the Root-Cortes-Arosemena stations on Colombia's islands in the Treaty shows very plainly that merely Caribbean. The price was to be $10,000,006).
Colombia was to recognize the indepen- ington will suffice to indicate the impordence of Panama and call the old score tance of preventing further scandal. We with the United States settled with an owe this to ourselves as much as we owe it arbitration of her proprietary interest in to Colombia. the Panama Railroad.
When General Rafael Reyes, before Colombia quickly recognized that this acceding to the presidency, came to the was a subterfuge; that the United States did United States at the head of the Colomnot need the Atrato Canal route and that bian Commission seeking a hearing on the it was really offering $10,000,000 as the Panama question, he entered in his account price for the loss of Panama. Again a
Again a of expenses in Washingon $20,100 (gold) mere money payment failed to satisfy. paid to "W. Morgate" for services as The proposal impressed one of my Colom- lobbyist and press agent. The other bian friends this way:
members of the Commission told me in
Bogotá that they never saw "Morgate" It is as though my neighbor took without my and that General Reyes kept his identity consent some highly prized heirloom which
a secret. All efforts to identify him have could not be replaced; then when I confront
been unsuccessful. him with his act, he does not say that he made a mistake or say that he is sorry he did wrong,
Six years after this incident a Wall but denies the act and at the same time further
Street lawyer attempted to negotiate anaffronts me by offering to buy my old hat for a other sale of alleged influence to the price which might approximate the intrinsic Colombian Minister in Washington. This but never the sentimental value of my heir- attorney apparently posed as the power loom. Now if my neighbor hopes ever to re- behind the throne of the Democratic party, store good relations with me, a frank acknowls for the Minister, who was then Dr. Franedgment and apology are indispensable. Buy- cisco de P. Borda, a very old but welling my hat at an exorbitant price in order meaning gentleman, was elated with the to minimize his own offense and attempt to
contract which he entered into subject to impress me with his beneficence will never make us friends again.
his Government's approval. To a Colom
bian friend of mine Dr. Borda described In this spirit Colombia rejected the ten- his agreement with the Wall Street lawyer tative offer of $10,000,000 and awaited the in this way: advent of a Democratic Administration in "Colombia shall have justice at last, Washington in the confident expectation for I have made a contract with the that Secretary Bryan would promptly Democratic party." take up the Panama question and propose The Minister then assured my friend a method of settlement that would not that this lawyer controlled the party leaders affront the Colombian nation.
in Washington; that he sat in his office in Mr. Bryan's delay in taking up the Wall Street and issued orders to them, that negotiations has been a disappointment to he drafted the resolution for a CongresColombia. It has been difficult for Colom- sional investigation of the Panama quesbians to understand at their distance from tion and sent it to Washington to be inthe scene why the Japanese and Mexican troduced. Of course he was simply anproblems, the tariff, and currency could be other Edward Lauterbach in a different more pressing than the one international field. Fortunately the absurdity of his question that has been uppermost in their pretensions was communicated to Bogotá minds for ten years. Colombia's sug- and his contract with the Colombian gestion at this time that the controversy Minister was not approved. Since then be submitted to arbitration can be traced this lawyer has suggested that Colombia to the interest of American lawyers, press was making a mistake in not retaining him, agents, and "technical advisers” who have as he could carry its case to The Hague pressed their services upon the Colombian and obtain a judgment for at least Government. A few examples of the $40,000,000. impositions which have been perpetrated Although such sordid motives have upon Colombia's representatives in Wash- been in play behind the scenes, the suggestion of arbitrating the Panama question acquire the territory necessary for the has met with the approval of many who growth of commercial centres. most earnestly desire to see international Our treaty with Panama stipulate: justice done, and who have jumped to the
The Republic of Panama further grants to conclusion that arbitration is the way to
the United States in perpetuity the use, Ocgo about it. Most of these people have cupation, and control of any other lands and reached this conclusion without knowledge waters outside of the Zone above described of the political and social conditions in which may be necessary and convenient for the Colombia and perhaps mainly because they construction, maintenance, operation, sanita have not thought of the direct and simple tion, and protection of the said canal.
, solution of the problem.
We can, with reason, require under our To effect a "settlement that settles” the treaty the widening of the Zone to include United States must make every possible the terminal cities and the entire water. concession to the national pride of the shed of the Canal. This would extend the people that it injured. It can do this Canal Zone southward to the headwaters through a reapportionment of the terri- of the Chágres River, which feeds the tory of Panama that will satisfy the senti- Gatun Lake, making a zone delimited by a a mental demand in Colombia for recogni- line from the mouth of the Bayano River tion of that country's sovereignty, and on the Pacific to Point San Blas on the without violation of our treaty with Atlantic, nearly parallel to the Canal at a Panama: at the same time such a read- distance of approximately forty miles. justment can be made to correct the errors The territory south of this line should be of judgment committed in our inexperience returned to Colombia. It is occupied and haste in acquiring the Canal Zone. largely by the San Blas Indians. White
From a military as well as from a com- men scarcely ever penetrate it. The mercial point of view the ten-mile Canal San Blas tribe are still loyal to Colombia, strip is not altogether satisfactory. The although living in what the rest of the terminal cities, Panama and Colon, are world calls the Republic of Panama. One excluded from American jurisdiction, and of the most impressive incidents I ever the dual government at the ends of the
saw was when, as the guest of the chief of Canal has proved a continuous source of the San Blas tribe, I rode with him from expense and annoyance, if not a menace. the Presidential Palace in Bogotá to the We have to oversee nearly every election, plaza facing the national capitol, where he and we have to maintain a benevolent knelt before the statue of Simon Bolivar, supervision over the local police and the Colombian Liberator, and, in the pressanitary administrations.
ence of an immense crowd, reverently We are creating at the Isthmus an arti- kissed the Colombian flag as an expression ficial Bosphorus. It is destined to be- of the voluntary renewal of his people's
. come the waystation and the crossroads allegiance. of the world's commerce. In time there It would be more than an act of justice to should be a tremendous city at Panama. return these people to the country to Such a commercial centre can be developed which they are loyal. Their territory is economically and successfully only through inconsequential, mostly an impassable administrative foresight. Common sense swamp; but its return to Colombia would dictates that in developing the commercial go farther than millions of American dollars possibilities of the Canal the terminal to satisfy the patriotic pride of the Colomcities should be planned now with their bian nation. great future in view; that the termini as To the north the Zone should be exwell as the approaches to the Canal should tended possibly a few miles for better conbe on American territory, under American trol of the approaches to the Canal; but jurisdiction. When we embarked upon the entire width need be only from fifty our Canal enterprise its glamor as a mili- to sixty miles to insure to the United tary enterprise blinded us to its commercial States all strategic and commercial adaspects, but even now it is not too late to vantages. There would remain then to
the north of the widened Canal Zone the valescing rapidly. In five years of nonrichest and most extensive part of the pres- partisan administration since the flight of ent Republic of Panama, in which a new President Reyes, her finances have renational capital could be established at covered from the effects of a long period David, or at Bocas del Toro. Keeping
Keeping of repudiation and depreciation. Her faith with the Panamanians, the United bonds have risen from 36 to nearly par. States could continue to guarantee their She has paid up all defaulted interest, independence, unless they at some time nearly doubled her foreign trade, accumushould wish to join themselves by petition lated a surplus of $2,500,000, and is preto Costa Rica, and thus take the first step paring for extensive public improvements. toward the Central American Federation. President Restrepo has restored constitu
I have discussed this suggestion of terri- tional government, state and municipal torial reapportionment with several of autonomy, and liberty of the press; and Colombia's most influential men, and they so long as these conditions obtain (and have assured me that it would clear away they seem to be on solid ground) there is
THE CANAL AND ITS SURROUNDINGS SHOWING THE WIDTH OF THE CANAL ZONE IF IT INCLUDED COLON AND PANAMA AND THE WATERSHED OF THE CHAGRES RIVER, AND SHOWING THE TERRITORY EAST OF THE CANAL THAT MIGHT BE GIVEN BACK TO COLOMBIA
an almost insuperable obstacle to an not the slightest danger of Colombia reearly and satisfactory diplomatic adjust turning to political revolutions. ment of this matter.
It is an auspicious time to authorize the Political and social conditions in new American Minister to Bogotá to preColombia are ripe for the ending of the sent as a substitute for arbitration a plan Panama dispute. The rising generation of settlement that shall take into full is prepared to recognize that Colombia, as account the proud nationalism of Colombia. well as the United States, should be careful It is possible, of course, for the United to satisfy public opinion outside as well States to wear Colombia out with delay as within their own country, and that the and in time bring that country to accept Colombian Government, in making its a purely financial adjustment. This might demand upon the United States, should be be in complete conformity with legal reso fair as to refute altogether the charges quirements, but still fall far short of what of cupidity that have been made against should be our objective — to win back the it by those who believed that it attempted good will of Colombia and the confidence to blackmail the United States.
of our other Latin-American neighbors. Colombia has passed through a long And while the American Minister, Mr. political and economic sickness and is con- Thaddeus Thomson, is making his survey