No. 492.
Mr. Pile to Mr. Fish.

No. 80.]

Sir: I transmit to the Department, by this mail, the printed book containing the report made by President Guzman Blanco to the Congress of Venezuela, of his acts and proceedings during the time that he exercised the dictatorship conferred upon him by the representatives of the States that met in Valencia in June, 1870. Everything done by him, including decrees issued, laws announced, &c., was approved by the Congress.

The attention of the Department is respectfully invited to two laws decreed by President Blanco in reference to foreigners, numbered 548 and 549, and found on pages 862 and 863 of the book referred to.

Article 5 of the first of these laws reads: “Neither domiciled nor transient foreigners have the right to diplomatic recourse (ocurrir á la via diplomatica) except, after having exhausted the legal resource before the competent authorities, it shall clearly appear that there has been a denial of justice or notorious injustice.”

Articles 8 and 9 of the second law reads as follows:

  • “Article 8. He that shall appear in a manifest manner to have exaggerated the amount of damages that he claims to have suffered will lose whatever right he may have, and will incur a fine of from five hundred to three thousand dollars, or an imprisonment of from three to twelve months. If it should result that the claim is totally false, the guilty party will incur a fine of from one to five thousand dollars, or imprisonment for from six to twenty-four months.”
  • “Article 9. In no case can it be claimed (podra pretenderse) that the nation or the States should indemnify damages, injuries, or spoliations that have not been made or executed by the legitimate authorities acting in their official character.”

The first of the above translated articles formally enacts the doctrine I so often claimed by Venezuela, and as often denied by other nations, that foreign residents in Venezuela shall not claim the intervention of their governments in case of losses by violence until they have resorted to [Page 1172] the courts of this country for a remedy. The second may be the occasion of many wrongs and oppressions upon foreigners, and the third is intended to relieve the government of Venezuela from all responsibility for injury to the persons or property of foreigners by revolutionary parties.

I am informed that these laws have caused grave apprehensions on the part of many foreign residents of this country, and that the representatives of the European nations accredited to Venezuela have made them the subject of communications to their respective governments.

I am, &c.,