Mr. Williamson to Mr. Fish.
Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, December 11, 1873. (Rec’d Dec. 30.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of the memorandum of the conversation had yesterday morning with President Guardia, the result of which I gave you in my No. 71, written immediately after its occurrence, so as to send by the ship then in port, bound for Panama. You will notice that Mr. Edwin Corbett, Her British Majesty’s minister, took part in the interview and co-operated with me partly. Although I did not understand him to commit himself in the conversation to the plan of a personal conference of the five Presidents, yet I feel assured it meets his approval, and that his presence was taken by President Guardia as tantamount to an unqualified indorsement. So far everything looks favorable to the proposed personal conference, but I cannot say I feel certain it will take place, or that the good consequences will [Page 127] flow from it which I should be glad to witness. My belief, however, is (if the meeting is held) it will lead to a better understanding, if not to good-will, between the several Presidents, and thereby give the tranquillity to these states so much needed, and which, under these peculiar systems of personal governments, seems unattainable at present by any other means. The only man I have any doubt of is President Guardia.* * * A short time ago he placed the “executive power” in the hands of one of his friends and ministers, Gonzalez. In a few days afterward he resumed it, and Gonzalez and several of his advisers left the capital, it is presumed by order of the President. He retained the executive power for two days, accepted the resignation of all his ministers except two, and after appointing the two to perform all the ministerial duties, he placed the executive power in the hands of his uncle, Rafael Barroeta, who stills holds it nominally, while in truth Guardia is President and in command of the army as general-in-chief. These facts speak for themselves, and indicate a state of mind or condition of affairs not calculated to produce a conviction that President Guardia will attend the conference. On my way back to Guatemala I shall acquaint the Presidents of Nicaragua and Salvador with the result of the interview. If Leiva has been installed in Honduras I shall write him an unofficial note, or go to Comayagua to present my letter of credence if the state of the country will permit me.
I have, &c.,