No. 92.
Mr. Williamson to Mr. Fish.

No. 92.]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose you herewith a translated copy of an article on the “general situation” in Central America, published in the “Porvenir,” of Nicaragua, in its issue of the 21st instant. The statements contained therein are so correct, according to my information, that I venture to send it to you, only remarking that I am credibly informed the proffered intervention of Nicaragua alluded to therein was rejected by President Arias.

He demanded the troops of Guatemala and Salvador should be withdrawn from the soil of Honduras. At last accounts they were preparing to move on his intrenchments in Comayagua. His force is reputed at six hundred; that of his opponents at twenty-five hundred.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 92.]

General Situation.

[Article in the “Porvenir,” of Nicaragua, of the 21st December, 1873.—Translation.]

The affairs of Central America are getting so complicated that it is very difficult to foresee how they will end, and they are creating such confusion in the ideas of the different political parties that for some time past have been struggling to establish the predominance of their respective principles, that we believe, without fear of error in our calculation, that they will all, before long, be completely at a loss as to the best course of conduct to be followed in order to secure the objects of their aspirations.

Or perhaps this very confusion of ideas, this fruitless and constant struggle of parties which destroys to-day at the cost of great sacrifices the work done yesterday with equally great efforts, may at last cause in the minds of the people of Central America the belief that principles are not discussed, and that the object of this party strife is not the triumph of this or that idea, but that all the issues at stake are questions of interest and personal advantage. If the people become convinced of this the result will be beneficial, as they will not then listen to the call to light under this or that banner, knowing that obedience to such a call will not be for their advantage, but only to procure to such and such persons the satisfaction of riding over them.

The present state of the affairs of the sister republic suggests these reflections. In that of Costa Rica Señor Guardia continues to perform his farce of self-denial and patriotism, of love and peace, and of zeal for the national interests.

On the 30th of November last he addressed to his excellency the first designado, then in the exercise of the executive power, a letter which was published in the Official Gazette No. 55, of the 6th instant, in which he stated that grave motives of public policy [Page 138] obliged him to return to the presidency; that nobody had believed in the good faith with which he had laid down the same for the sake of peace and tranquillity; the different parties having thought it a brilliant opportunity to grasp power, and thus gratify personal ambition; that though not in the exercise of power, he could not forget that he was the true president of the republic, and responsible to the nation if, unfortunately, it should be plunged into anarchy; that, as a principal cause of distrust, the belief was alleged that Gonzalez was an accomplice in the bad management of Guardia, and that this fear, whether founded or unfounded obliged him to put himself again at the head of the administration, although it might be but during the re-establishment of tranquillity and confidence, thus putting a stop to those party struggles.

Mr. Guardia ended his letter by thanking Mr. Gonzalez for his self-abnegation and patriotism in coming to that post when called to do so; he acknowledged the upright intentions with which he (Gonzalez) had tried to reconcile the interest of all for the public good, and signed himself his obedient servant.

Mr. Guardia’s conviction of the necessity of peremptorily removing Mr. Gonzalez before he should compromise, through the policy already inaugurated by him, the future well-being of the republic, is clearly seen in this letter.

However, after having again assumed power on the 1st instant, by a simple decree of the first designado, in which, without any considerations at all, he declares Guardia in possession of the supreme command of the republic, and having accepted the resignation of their respective portfolios, which was tendered by Don Rafael Ramirez and Dr. José M. Castro, he appointed successors to those gentlemen. On the 2d he summoned the second designado, Don Rafael Barroeta, uncle of Mrs. Guardia, alleging that it was not necessary to prolong his continuance in power in view of his desire to return to private life, and adding that Mr. Gonzalez had declared that he could not remain in office. All this is a badly played comedy, because in the very documents published the facts can be seen.

In spite of the great confusion which reigns in these affairs, it can clearly be perceived that in the administration of Costa Rica a sentiment of peace prevails, audit cannot be otherwise, after the failure of Mr. Guardia in all his attempts to disturb the peace of Central America and to obtain a decisive influence in its affairs.

On the other hand it appears that the idea of establishing peace in all the states was a result of the conference held at Chingo. Mr. Guardia has received an invitation to meet with the other presidents of Central America and put an end to the indefinite provisional presidency of Mr. Arias in Honduras, whose government, in the opinion of many persons, is an obstacle to the realization of that idea on account of its excessive rigidity.

It seems very likely that this invitation will be accepted by Mr. Guardia, as it is really to his interest to re-establish friendly relations with the other governments in order to strengthen his rule in Costa Rica. What will our government do in such a case? Will Mr. Quadra, with his good faith and candor of past times, again set out on a fatiguing journey to hear protestations and promises that, for him, have no value whatever? We shall see; but in the mean time let us be permitted to doubt.

In regard to the Honduras question, we believe it has attained proportions not foreseen at Chingo. The discredit into which Arias has fallen is well known, and it seemed very natural to suppose that when a more popular citizen was proclaimed President, under the protection of the allies of Honduras, the whole country would also proclaim such citizen. It seems, however, that some error was committed in the modus operandi by which the national susceptibility was awakened, and that Mr. Arias is now in possession of much more power than before.

Still the proclamation of Mr. Leiva has continued its course, he having organized his government at Tegucigalpa on the 8th instant, his cabinet being composed of Messrs. Adolfo Zuniga, Trinidad Ferrari, and General Juan Lopez, who represent the three political parties, viz, radical liberal, moderate, and conservative liberal.

The faction of Finoco proclaimed Mr. Leiva, offering him their respect and love, and protesting that in entering the territory of Honduras they had no object save the overthrow of their country’s tyrant.

In the mean time Marshal Gonzalez had collected a considerable number of troops, with artillery and a flotilla, at La Union, with the object of attacking the port of Amapala. Commander Vargas and his garrison behaved like true soldiers, rejecting every summons made them to surrender. Notwithstanding the inferiority of their force, they declared their determination to fight if they were attacked. On the 13th instant, at 3 p.m., the attack against the port began.

The small Honduran garrison made a vigorous resistance, but, after a long and bloody conflict, was forced to yield to superior numbers. Forty Salvadorians and seven Amapalians were killed, while many were wounded on both sides. Marshal Gonzalez directed the attack and General Samayoa was chief of the operations. Soon after the port was taken Marshal Gonzalez landed and took possession of it, The commandant and the garrison of the port were held as prisoners.

[Page 139]

Hostilities were thus commenced between the Salvadorians and Hondurans, who have so often fought side by side in defense of the same cause.

The government of Nicaragua, however, offered its intervention in favor of peace, but, as is always the ease, seems to have arrived too late to prevent the shedding of Central American blood. This was unavoidable, no manifestations or declarations having been made beforehand to make known such a state of things to the neighboring governments, so that, when this was least expected, the belligerents met with arms ready for battle.