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In 1904, Gen. Velez the leader of the anti-canal faction was a candidate for the Colombian presidency against Gen. Reyes, but he was overwhelmingly defeated and died shortly afterwards. When Gen. Reyes assumed the chair he found the same anti-canal faction working against him and he proceeded to eradicate it by radical measures. Over four hundred, including men of wealth and ability, were arrested and deported to the military penal colony of Macoa on one of the branches of the Amazon, two months' journey from Bogota, from where prisoners seldom return. President Reyes in explaining his action stated that the riddance of this faction was made necessary for the maintenance of peace and prosperity. Others fled the country and are now living abroad. The measure appears to have been successful for Colombia has been enjoying an era of peace unusual in its history.
The Secession Pot Begins To Boil.
That the Hay-Herran treaty would never be ratified by the Colombian Congress appears to have been regarded by the people of the Isthmus as a foregone conclusion. In his clever little book in Spanish on the "Independence of the Isthmus," Don José Augustin Arango, who was a member of the original junta of separation and who had been prominently identified with the movement since its inception, states, "I was a senator in the Colombian National Congress of 1903, but I refused to attend as I was completely convinced that the treaty would not go through, and could see no other way than a separation from Colombia to save the Isthmus from ruin." The Colombian Senate was to have adjourned on Sept. 22, 1903, but a month before that date the opinion was generally shared in that no favorable action would be taken.
In the forepart of August, 1903, a number of prominent citizens of Panama came together and carnestly discussed the chances for success in a movement looking to
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the severance of political ties with Colombia. was the naming of a junta consisting of Messrs. José Augustin Arango, Federico Boyd, Ricardo Arias, Nicanor A. de Obarrio, Manuel Espinosa B., and Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, the latter now President of the Republic. Plans were laid, and to Dr. Amador was entrusted the delicate mission to visit the United States to ascertain by means of interviews how the movement would be looked upon there. In this connection Dr. Amador was to have the able assistance of Capt. Beers, formerly freight agent for the Panama Railroad.
During the last days of August a meeting was held in New York City attended by Dr. Amador, Amadeo Arosemena, Tracy Robinson, formerly with the Panama Railroad Company at Celon, J. Gabriel Duque of the Panama "Star & Herald", and G. Lewis, also of Panama. The New York World said of this meeting and its results:
"They went over the whole situation in detail and figured out the strength of the armed force they could raise as compared with the Colombian army on the Isthmus, and decided that the revolt should take place September 22, on the day the Colombian Congress was to adjourn. It was arranged that Panama and Colon should be seized simultaneously, and the new Republic proclaimed throughout the Isthmus. Resistance was only expected at Colon and Panama, and as the garrisons at both places were small, it was thought they could be easily overthrown. It was reported to the committee that the United States would view the revolt with favor, and would take an
indirect hand in it by at once landing marines to keep the Isthmus open for traffic, and would permit no fighting along the line, or at either end of it. The revolutionists appreciated that this attitude would be of immense advantage to whoever was in control at Panama and Colon, and it was decided to center all their energies at these points."
“J. Gabriel Duque was selected to visit Washington and acquaint the administration confidentially with the plans. He went there at once and on September 3 had a long talk with Secretary Hay in which he unfolded the whole Panama scheme. Mr. Hay had heard of it before and was interested chiefly in the date set for the revolution, and the exact nature of the plans. Mr. Hay did not officially countenance the revolution. His remarks were perfectly proper; it was what he did not say, rather than what he did say that encouraged the revolu tionists and caused them to change their plans. "
"You are much too hasty", said Mr. Hay when he was told of the date set for the revolt. "Colombia should be given a chance to repent. If she should show no signs of repentance within a reasonable time, you would of course, be free to take any action you saw fit, as you are now, but it seems to me it would look much better to wait six weeks or so. Of course you understand that if there is a revolution the United States will keep the Isthmus open and allow no fighting near the railway. If there is to be any fighting it will have to be done before our marines get there."
Mr. Duque returned to New York, told of the result of his visit, whereupon it was decided that the new government should not be set up, or proclaimed until the 4th of November.
Colombia Gets The News.
Within a few days after the conference with Mr. Hay, Dr. Herran the Colombian Minister cabled his government full information concerning the revolutionary movement, setting forth that it was serious, and that the gar
risons at Panama and Colon should be strengthened at once. He was informed that his advice had been followed, and that there were 2,000 picked men at Panama, whereas the garrison numbered only about 400. When it was too late Colombia acted upon Dr. Herran's suggestion, for it was not until November 3, the day the new republic was proclaimed, that a Colombian gunboat and a chartered steamer arrived at Colon from Cartagena with 300 troops on board of one, and 200 on the other.
The letting of the cat out of the bag created some commotion in the revolutionary camp, and led them to be extremely cautious in their future movements. Dr. Herran wrote the representative of the French canal company to the effect that he would hold them responsible for what
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transpired in this case. After this occurrence the cable only was used for the transmission of instructions.
No Coal for Colombian Boats.
"We thought it best," writes Don Arango in his Notes "to let Col. J. R. Shaler, Superintendent of the Panama Railroad Company, know of our plane through Capt. Beers, SO one day when both were in my office Capt. Beers plained what we intended doing. Among the things that came up was the supplying the Commanding General of the Colombian military forces with 200 tons of coal, which the General asked through the Governor at first, then directly of the railroad company. It was explained that this coal was urgently needed for the Colombian gunboats Padilla and Bogota, which were under hurry orders to go to Buenaventura, and bring the troops that were there ready to embark for Panama. As this would have been fatal to our plans, Col. Shaler consulted with me as to the best way of evading delivery of the coal. The only way we could see was to put off the request from day to day by telling the General that the coal was in Colon, although there was a great quantity in Panama, and some of it had already been sold to the different steamship companies."
"Supt. Shaler gave me authority to look after this matter, and I was able to put off the Commanding General in spite of the notes which he sent me to supply the two vessels named. I had talked with Gen. Varon, commanding the Padilla, and ascertained that he was in sympathy with our cause, and afterwards Dr. Amador had a clearer understanding with him. We then advised that the Padilla could receive coal, and after a talk with Col. Shaler over the telephone about it, the supply was furnished. We also offered to supply the Bogota, but mentally had no intention of following up the offer. I advised Col. Shaler to take the matter in hand directly in case the Commanding General was not satisfied with my promises,