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From latest information we regret to state that Colon does not appear inclined to join the movement for separation. A commission from that city arrived yesterday evening to consult with the chiefs of the Provisional Government here, and we sincerely hope that the differences of opinion existing may be amicably settled in order to avoid all disturbance. The manifesto and declaration of independence we have translated for the benefit of our English readers.
We voice the sentiments of one and all, natives as well as foreigners, in wishing great prosperity to the new Republic.
Hurrah for the Republic of Panama!
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
In the city of Panama, capital of the district of the same name, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 4th day of November, 1903, the municipal council by its own right assembled, there being present the following members of the city council: Aizpuru, Rafael; Arango, Ricardo M.; Arias, F. Agustin; Arosemena, Fabio; Brid, Demetrio, H.; Chiari, R. José Maria; Cucalon, P.; Manuel, J.; Dominguez, Alcides; Lewis, Samuel; Linares, Enrique; McKay, Oscar M.; Mendez, Manuel Maria, and Vallarino, Dario, the mayor of the district and the municipal attorney, and having for its exclusive object to debate regarding the situation in which the country is at present, and to decide regarding what should be most convenient toward the tranquillity for the development and aggrandizement of the citizens that constitute the ethnographic and political entity denominated the Isthmus of Panama.
Councilmen Arias, F., Arosemena, Chiari, Brid, Cucalon, B., Aizpuru, Lewis, and Linares carefully took under special consideration the historical facts by virtue of which the Isthmus of Panama, by its own free will and in hopes of procuring for itself the ample benefits of right and liberty, cut asunder, on the 28th of November, 1821, its ties from Spain, and spontaneously joined its destiny to that of the great Republic of Colombia. Reflections were made tending to show that the union of the Isthmus with the old and modern Colombia did not produce the benefits that were expected from this act, and on mature consideration particular mention was made of the great and incessant injury that has been caused to the Isthmus of Panama in its material and moral interests at all times by the governments of the nation which have succeeded each other during the intervals of the federation, as well as those of the centralization-injuries which, instead of being looked after and patriotically remedied by those whose duty it was, were being augmented each day and increasing in importance with a persistency and ignorance that has exterminated in the cities of the Department of Panama the inclinations which were spontaneously felt for Colombia, thus demonstrating to them that, their cup of bitterness overflowing and all hope of the future being lost, the moment had arrived in which to dissolve certain ties which were a drawback to civilization, which placed insurmountable barriers to all progress, and which, on the whole, has produced unhappiness, upsetting and undoing the ends of the political union in which they entered, moved by the necessity to satisfy the desire of prospering within the right respected and liberty assured.
In view of the circumstances mentioned, the municipal council of the district of Panama, as a faithful interpreter of the sentiments of those they represent, declares in a solemn form that the people under their jurisdiction from to-day and henceforth sever their ties with Colombia in order to form, with the other towns of the Department of Panama that accept the separation and unite with them, the State of Panama, so as to constitute a republic with an independent government, democratic, representative, and responsible, that would tend to the happiness of the natives and of the other inhabitants of the territory of the Isthmus.
In order to practically attain the fulfillment of the resolution of the peoples of Panama of emancipating themselves from the Government of Colombia, making use of their autonomy in order to dispose of their destiny, to establish a new nationality free from all foreign elements, the municipal council of the district of Panama, for itself and in the name of the other municipal councils of the department, places the administration, working, and direction of affairs, temporarily and while the new Republic be constituted, in a board of government composed of Messrs. José Agustin Arango, Federico Boyd, and Tomás Arias, in whom and without any reserve whatsoever it gives powers, authorizations, and faculties necessary and sufficient for the satisfactory compliance of the duties which in the name of the Fatherland are confided to them.
It was ordered that the inhabitants of Panama be assembled to an open council in order to submit for their approval the ordinance that the present minutes contain, and which was signed by the officers and members of the corporation present.
Demetrio H. Brid, R. Aizpuru, A. Arias F., Manuel J. Cucalon P., Fabio Arosemena, Oscar M. McKay, Alcides Dominguez, Enrique Linares, J. M. Chiari R., Dario Vallarino, S. Lewis, Manuel M. Mendez.
The Secretary of the council, Ernesto J. Goti.
In our next issue we will publish the very extensive list of the signers of the above declaration.
The transcendental act that by a spontaneous movement the inhabitants of the Isthmus of Panama have just executed is the inevitable consequence of a situation which has become graver daily.
Long is the recital of the grievances that the inhabitants of the Isthmus have suffered from their Colombian brothers; but those grievances would have been withstood with resignation for the sake of harmony and national union had its separation been possible and if we could have entertained well-founded hopes of improvement and of effective progress under the system to which we were submitted by that Republic. We have to solemnly declare that we have the sincere and profound conviction that all the hopes were futile and useless, all the sacrifices on our part.
The Isthmus of Panama has been governed by the Republic of Colombia with the narrow-mindedness that in past times were applied to their colonies by the European nations the isthmian people and territory was a source of fiscal resources and nothing more. The contracts and negotiations regarding the railroad and the Panama Canal and the national taxes collected in the Isthmus have netted to Colombia tremendous sums which we will not detail, not wishing to appear in this exposition which will go down to posterity as being moved by a mercenary spirit, which has never been nor is our purpose; and of these large sums the Isthmus has not received the benefit of a bridge for any of its numerous rivers, nor the construction of a single road between its towns, nor of any public building, nor of a single college, and has neither seen any interest displayed in advancing her industries, nor has a most infinite part of those sums been applied toward her prosperity.
A very recent example of what we have related above is what has occurred with the negotiations of the Panama Canal, which, when taken under consideration by Congress, was rejected in a summary manner. There were a few public men who expressed their adverse opinion, on the ground that the Isthmus of Panama alone was to be favored by the opening of the canal by virtue of a treaty with the United States, and that the rest of Colombia would not receive any direct benefits of any sort by that work, as if that way of reasoning, even though it be correct, would justify the irreparable and perpetual damage which would be caused to the Isthmus by the rejection of the treaty in the manner in which it was done, which was equivalent to the closing of the doors to future negotiations.
The people of the Isthmus, in view of such notorious causes, have decided to recover their sovereignty and begin to form a part of the society of the free and independent nations, in order to work out its own destiny, to insure its future in a stable manner, and discharge the duties which it is called on to do by the situation of its territory and its immense richness.
To that we, the initiators of the movement effected, aspire and have obtained a unanimous approval.
We aspire to the formation of a true republic, where tolerance will prevail, where the law should be the invariable guide of those governing and those governed, where effective peace be established, which consists in the frequent and harmonious play of all interests and all activities, and where, finally, civilization and progress will find perpetual stability.
At the commencement of the life of an independent nation we fully appreciate the responsibilities that state means, but we have profound faith in the good sense and patriotism of the isthmian people, and we possess sufficient energy to open our way by means of labor to a happy future without any worry or any danger.
At separating from our brothers of Colombia we do it without any hatred and without any joy. Just as a son withdraws from his paternal roof, the isthmian people in adopting the lot it has chosen have done it with grief, but in compliance with the supreme and inevitable duty it owes to itself—that of its own preservation and of working for its own welfare.
We therefore begin to form a part among the free nations of the world, considering Colombia as a sister nation, with which we shall be whenever circumstances may require it, and for whose prosperity we have the most fervent and sincere wishes.
JOSÉ AGUSTIN ARANGO.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TRANSMITTING A STATEMENT OF ACTION IN EXECUTING THE ACT ENTITLED "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CANAL CONNECTING THE WATERS OF THE ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC OCEANS," APPROVED JUNE 28, 1902.
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
I lay before the Congress for its information a statement of my action up to this time in executing the act entitled "An act to provide for the construction of a canal connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans," approved June 28, 1902.
By the said act the President was authorized to secure for the United States the property of the Panama Canal Company and the perpetual control of a strip 6 miles wide across the Isthmus of Panama. It was further provided that "should the President be unable to obtain for the United States a satisfactory title to the property of the New Panama Canal Company and the control of the necessary territory of the Republic of Columbia within a reasonable time and upon reasonable terms, then the President" should endeavor to provide for a canal by the Nicaragua route. The language quoted defines with exactness and precision what was to be done, and what as a matter of fact has been done. The President was authorized to go to the Nicaragua route only if within a reasonable time he could not obtain “control of the necessary territory of the Republic of Colombia." This control has now been obtained; the provision of the act has been complied with; it is no longer possible under existing legislation to go to the Nicaragua route as an alternative.
This act marked the climax of the effort on the part of the United States to secure, so far as legislation was concerned, an interoceanic canal across the Isthmus. The effort to secure a treaty for this purpose with one of the Central American republics did not stand on the same footing with the effort to secure a treaty under any ordinary conditions. The proper position for the United States to assume in reference to this canal, and therefore to the governments of the Isthmus, had been clearly set forth by Secretary Cass in 1858. In my Annual Message I have already quoted what Secretary Cass said; but I repeat the quotation here, because the principle it states is fundamental.
While the rights of sovereignty of the states occupying this region (Central America) should always be respected, we shall expect that these rights be exercised in a spirit befitting the occasion and the wants and circumstances that have arisen. Sovereignty has its duties as well as its rights, and none of these local governments, even if administered with more regard to the just demands of other nations than they have been, would be permitted, in a spirit of Eastern isolation, to close the gates of intercourse on the great highways of the world, and justify the act by the pretension that these avenues of trade and travel belong to them and that they choose to shut them, or, what is almost equivalent, to encumber them with such unjust relations as would prevent their general use.
The principle thus enunciated by Secretary Cass was sound then and it is sound now. The United States has taken the position that no other government is to build the canal. In 1889, when France proposed to come to the aid of the French Panama Company by guaranteeing their bonds, the Senate of the United States in executive session, with only some three votes dissenting, passed a resolution as follows:
That the Government of the United States will look with serious concern and disapproval upon any connection of any European government with the construction or control of any ship canal across the Isthmus of Darien or across Central America, and must regard any such connection or control as injurious to the just rights and interests of the United States and as a menace to their welfare.
Under the Hay-Pauncefote treaty it was explicitly provided that the United States should control, police, and protect the canal which was to be built, keeping it open for the vessels of all nations on equal terms. The United States thus assumed the position of guarantor of the canal and of its peaceful use by all the world. The guarantee included as a matter of course the building of the canal. The enterprise was recognized as responding to an international need; and it would be the veriest travesty on right and justice to treat the governments in possession of the Isthmus as having the right, in the language of Mr. Cass, "to close the gates of intercourse on the great highways of the world, and justify the act by the pretension that these avenues of trade and travel belong to them and that they choose to shut them."
When this Government submitted to Colombia the Hay-Herran treaty three things were, therefore, already settled.
One was that the canal should be built. The time for delay, the time for permitting the attempt to be made by private enterprise, the time for permitting any government of antisocial spirit and of imperfect development to bar the work, was past. The United States had assumed in connection with the canal certain responsibilities not only to its own people, but to the civilized world, which imperatively demanded that there should no longer be delay in beginning the work. Second. While it was settled that the canal should be built without unnecessary or improper delay, it was no less clearly shown to be our purpose to deal not merely in a spirit of justice but in a spirit of generosity with the people through whose land we might build it. The Hay-Herran treaty, if it erred at all, erred in the direction of an overgenerosity toward the Colombian Government. In our anxiety to be fair we had gone to the very verge in yielding to a weak nation's demands what that nation was helplessly unable to enforce from us against our will. The only criticisms made upon the Administration for the terms of the Hay-Herran treaty were for having granted too much to Colombia, not for failure to grant enough. Neither in the Congress nor in the public press, at the time that this treaty was formulated, was there complaint that it did not in the fullest and amplest manner guarantee to Colombia everything that she could by any color of title demand.
Nor is the fact to be lost sight of that the rejected treaty, while generously responding to the pecuniary demands of Colombia, in other respects merely provided for the construction of the canal in conformity with the express requirements of the act of the Congress of June 28, 1902. By that act, as heretofore quoted, the President was authorized to acquire from Colombia, for the purposes of the canal, "perpetual control" of a certain strip of land; and it was expressly required that the "control" thus to be obtained should include jurisdiction" to make police and sanitary regulations and to establish such judicial tribunals as might be agreed on for their enforcement. These were conditions precedent prescribed by the Congress; and for their fulfillment suitable stipulations were embodied
in the treaty. It has been stated in public prints that Colombia objected to these stipulations on the ground that they involved a relinquishment of her sovereignty;" but in the light o. what has taken place, this alleged objection must be considered as an afterthought.
In reality, the treaty, instead of requiring a cession of Colombia's Sovereignty over the canal strip, expressly acknowledged, confirmed, and preserved her sovereignty over it. The treaty in this respect simply proceeded on the lines on which all the negotiations leading up to the present situation have been conducted. In those negotiations the exercise by the United States, subject to the paramount rights of the local sovereign, of a substantial control over the canal and the immediately adjacent territory, has been treated as a fundamental part of any arrangement that might be made. It has formed an essential feature of all our plans, and its necessity is fully recognized in the Hay-Pauncefote treaty. The Congress, in providing that such control should be secured, adopted no new principle, but only incorporated in its legislation a condition the importance and propriety of which were universally recognized. During all the years of negotiation and discussion that preceded the conclusion of the Hay-Herran treaty, Colombia never intimated that the requirements 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 for 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.
That the canal itself was eagerly demanded by the people of the locality through which it was to pass, and that the people of this locality no less eagerly longed for its construction under American control, are shown by the unanimity of action in the new Panama Republic. Furthermore, Colombia, after having rejected the treaty in spite of our protests 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 addressed 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 call 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 question that the Government of the United States proposed a treaty which was not merely 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