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port on the Pacific coast of this Republic either on the mainland or on an island near it, such as that of Sacate Grande, which would open easier and more convenient communications with the interior.
On this point, I take pleasure in saying to Your Exellency that my Government will give the attention it deserves to such proposition as may be offered to it for the execution of so important a work as is the opening of the port above referred to, which proposition will be examined with special care, so as to decide thereon that which best suits the rights and good of the nation in harmony with the interests of the corporations, the importance and consequence of that work for the promotion of the general trade of Honduras, and in particular of that which it carries on with the United States of America, being recognized in advance.
To that end, the President directs me to say to Your Excellency that he is dominated by the best desire to afford every facility for such reconnoitering and surveying as may be deemed necessary or expedient for the selection of a site offering the most favorable conditions for the establishment of the port referred to.
With respect to the difficulties of a temporary character met in the port of Amapala by the North American steamship companies, I may assure Your Excellency that even though commercial concerns of a private nature such as agencies were concerned, my Government has endeavored, as far as it could interfere in such matters, to remove those difficulties, for the good of the trade, in the manner of which Your Excellency is already aware.
Believing that in this sense the points of the esteemed note above mentioned have been satisfactorily answered, I take pleasure in reiterating to Your Excellency [etc.]
Mariano Vásquez. In conference last night [it was the] unanimous opinion of the Legation, Consulate, representative of Pacific Mail, and Captain of Cincinnati, that reply was absolutely unsatisfactory. Instruction sent by Captain of Cincinnati for northbound steamer Peru: 1 “Under no circumstances call at Amapala until further instructions." Captain of Cincinnati here respectfully requests rush instructions.
File No. 763.72112Am1/20
[Received January 20, 3 a. m.] Foreign Minister this afternoon requested conference, presenting note dated to-day. First part quotes telegram [note] to President from Pacific Mail representative to effect, inasmuch as steamer service discontinued, what disposition desired by Honduras of mail, cargo, steamer Peru, further stating same would be landed La Unión. Note continues as follows:
* Of Pacific Mail Steamship Co,
In view of the concepts of the preinserted note, the Government considers that the difficulties that obstruct and even make impossible the commerce of the port of Amapala still subsist [exist] without any satisfactory solution, which, as is natural, affects the interests of the country; it being the duty of the Government to put an end to this anomalous situation, making use of the powers which are within its reach.
In this sense the honorable President has resolved to seize the lighters existing in the mentioned port which are indispensable for the service in question, which he will take into his charge, administrating it directly.
My Government feels that through this procedure the obstacles and inconveniences to which it has made reference will be put aside definitely, regulating in consequence the steamer service at present interrupted.
Foreign Minister [stated] upon receipt satisfactory reply President would immediately issue decree seizing German lighters and operating same until agency to be selected by President was estah. lished and had secured other lighters.
This complete change on the part of Honduras accounted for by pressure brought to bear and known absolute discontinuance steamer service. Further understand Foreign Minister of Salvador notified representative of Pacific Mail that it cannot land Honduranean cargo La Unión. Have been expecting Salvador's entrance into situation,
. as influential German representative Amapala firms now there; also attitude Salvador this country with friction between Salvador's representative here and Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister states Government cannot compel sale of lighters, only seize and operate. Government very desirous for immediate resumption steamer service.
Opportunity presents for United States to settle question definitely without further parleying on the part of Honduras.
Proposition as presented may involve secret understanding between Government and Germans who may resume operations after duration [termination] of war. Pacific Mail service desires Commercial Export Co. as its agent Amapala. Think Government has in mind Honduranean company, as previously suggested, which is not satisfactory to Pacific Mail, Captain of Cincinnati, Legation, [or] Consulate. United States in favorable position to establish American agents if desired, which will eliminate all possibility later German control.
Respectfully suggest Cincinnati remain Amapala until negotiations completed. Honduras asks immediately reply.
File No. 763.72112/6377
WASHINGTON, January 21, 1918, * p. m. Your January 16, 9 a. m., and January 17, noon. Seek early opportunity to inform President of Honduras that the note of the Government of Honduras transmitted to the Legation at Tegucigalpa has received the careful consideration of the Government of the United States which will immediately take steps to obtain information regarding the practicability of building on Sacate Grande new port which can be connected with mainland, if report is favorable corps of engineers may be sent to make accurate study; and that the United States will expect Government of Honduras' full cooperation in everything looking to establishment of new port from which much advantage should accrue to Honduras.
You will say further that in view of the fact that the abovementioned note did not make clear what steps the Government of Honduras contemplated taking to remedy the present difficulties existing at Amapala due to operation of the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. has under consideration sending from San Francisco its own lighters to move its freight from its vessels.
In view of information contained in your January 18, midnight, which the Department has now received, you will take advantage of the occasion of your interview with the President to point out to him in conversation that the Trading with the Enemy Act is but one of the many acts passed by the Congress of the United States incident to entry of the United States into the war and to say that it is regretted that its inevitable enforcement has worked a temporary hardship upon the Government of Honduras, to relieve which hardship the Government of the United States made its recent suggestions in the most friendly and kindly manner.
You will add that from the note of the Honduranean Government dated January 18 it appears that the situation at Amapala will now be remedied by the action of the Government of Honduras in seizing and operating the lighters owned by enemy interests, and that so far as this Government can now see the operation of these lighters by officials of the Honduranean Government would meet with the requirements of the Trading with the Enemy Act, it being carefully borne in mind that the above-mentioned act makes it impossible to deliver merchandise into enemy hands or into any hands in which the enemy retains any interest.
File No. 763.72112Am1/22
T'he Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Honduras (Belt)
WASHINGTON, January 25, 1918, noon. Your January 21, 2 p. m. [January 22, 2 a. m.?] Department has received January 23 the following telegram:
Acknowledging your wire 22d, thank you for full advices. I am now rushing construction of lighters of type required at Amapala and if these can be loaded safely on our steamer George W. Elder, sailing hence February 6, would be due at Amapala February 22; also we will transfer gasoline launch now at San José, Guatemala, and are sending on our steamer City of Para sailing January 26 one of our officers experienced and thoroughly equipped to establish landing facilities and to be relied upon to handle the business diplomatically, and who will be instructed to disembark at La Unión. Am today cabling Mann? to appoint Rosario our agents and that we are sending equipment and a special representative to survey new port and study project with intention of establishment by American interests. With new equipment in charge of Rosario and handled by our special representative, we trust you will approve acceptance of cargo for Amapala to go by steamer taking lighters. Please advise if all above meets with your approval. Signed,
J. H. Rosseter. Department replied to effect that this solution would appear to be satisfactory, that Legation might inform Government of Honduras if it is considered advisable, and that Government of Salvador had been requested to permit temporary landings of cargo and mail at La Unión.
In view of the proposed operation by the Government of Honduras through Department of Fomento of the business of a common carrier, it seems highly advisable, in order to avoid serious possible complications, that fuller and more precise information of the contemplated methods of operation, with particular reference to the disposition of the lighters and of the funds earned, be at once furnished for the information and guidance of the War Trade Board, whose rulings in similar cases are paramount. So inform Government of Honduras, adding that the resumption of steamship service is contingent upon operations of the Enemy Trading Act.
* Not printed.
File No. 763.72112Am1/27
The Chargé in Honduras (Belt) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 29, 5 a. m.] Department's January 12, 6 p. m. [January 21, " p. m. ?], January 25, noon. My January 21, 11 a. m. [January 22, 2 a. m. ?],January 23, 11 p. m., regarding Amapala situation.
On 24th, accompanied by newly appointed Minister to Washington, representatives of Pacific Mail and Rosario, visited President. Those points Government failed to make clear discussed thoroughly and an oral understanding reached.
Informed President in view of importance entire situation considered it advisable his Government be formally addressed by note. After considerable discussion he finally gave his consent.
On [January] 25 addressed formal note embodying entire first paragraph Department's January 22, 6 p. m. [January 21, 1 p. m.]. regarding Sacate Grande proposition, also first half of second paragraph, but avoided giving definite assurances that note of Honduranean Government, dated January 18, would be acceptable until Legation received answer to note of agreement in conference with President on 24th.
Legation's note of the 25th further distinctly set forth five points which appear in the following, dated today, herewith transmitted in full as requested. Note follows:
Tegucigalpa, January 27, 1918. Mr. Chargé (l'Affaires: I acknowledge receipt of your esteemed note dated the 25th of the current month relative to the retirement of the steamers from the port of Amapala motivated by the fact that the agencies of this commerce in that port are conducted by citizens of the German Empire considered as enemies by the act of the American Congress to which Your Honor alludes, with whom it is prohibited to citizens of the United States of America to enter into commercial relations. The Government of Honduras being a friend and ally of the United States of America proceeded immediately with the embargo of the launches of the mentioned agencies to the effect of taking charge through special employees of the operations which before were effected by the German houses.
My Government believed that this would be sufficient to satisfy completely the desires of the Government of the United States of America, as the German houses in the port of Amapala disappearing, the clauses of the aforementioned act of Congress were fulfilled.