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of Panama, to be its governor. This raised storm of protest, and showed that a political more was on the board that had not been thought of, but with all the criticisms of the Colombian press on this appointment, none denied but that Obaldia was a man of high character and ability. It was this fact that stirred them up the most.
From the Colombian Minister at Washington, and from individuals and companies in the United States and Europe, having commercial interests in Colombia, cable after cable concerning the movements and purported plans of the revolutionary agents of Panama. These cables were sent principally over the lines touching Venezuela, and from there transmitted by telegraph to Bogota, it being considered unwise at this juncture to send them in the usual manner through Panama. Many of the cables urged the massing of troops on the Isthmus in order to forestall the rumored change in political ties. So well informed the Colombian Government and even private parties at Bogota, that it was a matter of public comment the streets at this period why no action was taken looking to the despatch of troops to the Isthmus. In the meantime the faction who had defeated the canal treaty gave open expression to the belief that this turn of events would bring its adherents permanently to the front, and its leader into the presidential chair. There were at that time in Bogota
thousand troops of the Colombian Line, and another ten thousand within reach, all well-drilled and armed, and officered by men on whom the government could depend, yet no move was made to mobilize them in any way,
or any indication given that they were to be despatched to the coast. President Marroquin had ample time to place all the troops needed on the Isthmus, and when anxious merchant asked him why he did not do so after so much warning, the President replied “ What for?"
The merchant then
went on to
state that according to advices he had received, there was a revolutionary junta working in New York and Washington, and it was apparent there would be trouble at Panama. The President replied to this in a saying that “Sometimes the unexpected happens."
It was the general belief of those who knew President Marroquin intimately as well as the circumstances surrounding the Panama affair, that he allowed the secessionary movement to proceed without taking any decisive steps to stave it off, not altogether to revenge himself for the slight put upon him by the Velez faction, but as a lesson for the betterment of his country, and to avoid a repetition of the occurrences that characterized the revolution of 1899 to 1902. The manner in which events shaped themselves is now accepted in Colombia as one of the best things that could have happened for the reason that the affairs of Panama have always proved a fruitful source of dissension in Colombian politics, while its secession has operated to remove this discordant factor, thereby turning the thoughts of its people into wiser and broader-minded channels. ExPresident Marroquin to-day has the respect of all in the Colombian capital, whereas if it was thought that he had perpetrated a grievous wrong on his country, his presence would not have been tolerated for a moment.
The defeating of the canal treaty does not appear to have met the will or the wishes of the people of Colombia as a whole, but was brought about through the scheming of a political clique that had been drawn together by the possibility of getting the reins of government into its hands. The excuse used by Velez and his champions in blocking favorable action on the treaty m the Colombian Senate was that the United States did not offer enough for the privileges sought for and that it would be prejudicial to the integrity of the Republic to permit the American Government to exercise supreme control over the canal strip, this despite the fact that the lower house ratified the trea
ty without question. Moreover, the amount of $10,000,000 that would have changed hands upon the successful issue of the treaty was far more liberal than any proposition
theretofore made the Colombian Government in connection with the canal undertaking. Then too, Velez was an avowed enemy of progress and his antipathy to foreigners and foreign enterprises was notorious.
After Congress adjourned, the action of the Colombian Senate in turning down the canal treaty crystallized public sentiment against Velez, and it is extremely probable that could the matter have come up again a few months later, the result would have been decidedly different. President Roosevelt's reference to the defeat of the treaty in his message to Congress states:
“During all the years of negotiation and discussion that preceded the conclusion of the Hay-Herran treaty, Colombia never intimated that the requirement by the United States of control over the canal strip would render unattainable the construction of a canal by way of the Isthmus of Panama; nor were we advised, during the months when legislation of 1902 was pending before the Congress, that the terms which it embodied would render negotiations with Colombia impracticable. It is plain that no nation could construct and guarantee the neutrality of the canal with a less degree of control than was stipulated in the Hay-Herran treaty. A refusal to grant such degree of control was necessarily a refusal to make any practicable treaty at all. Such refusal therefore squarely raised the question whether Colombia was entitled to bar the transit of the world's traffic across the Isthmus... Colombia, after having rejected the treaty in spite of our protest and warnings when it was in her power to accept it, has since shown the utmost eagerness to accept the same treaty if only the status quo could be restored. One of the men standing highest in the official circles of Colombia on November 6, 1903, ad. dressed the American Minister at Bogota, saying that if the Government of the United States would land troops to preserve Colombian sovereignty and the transit, the Colombian Government would declare martial law, and by virtue of vested constitutional authority, when public order is disturbed (would) approve by decree the ratification of the canal treaty as signed; or, if the Government of the United States prefers (would)
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call an extra session of the Congress — with new and friendly members -- next May to approve the treaty. Having these facts in view, there is no shadow of a question that the Government of the United States proposed a treaty that was not only just, but generous to Colombia, which our people regarded as erring, if at all; on the side of overgenerosity; which was hailed with delight by the people of the immediate locality through which the canal was to pass, who were most concerned as to the new order of things, and which the Colombian authorities now recognize as being so good that they are willing to promise its unconditional ratification if only we will desert those who have shown themselves our friends and restore to those who have shown themselves unfriendly, the power to undo what they did. I pass by the question as to what assurance we have that they would now keep their pledge and not again refuse to ratify the treaty if they had the power; for of course, I will not for one moment discuss the possibility of the United States committing an act of such baseness as to abandon the new Republic of Panama."