Mr. Caldwell to Mr. Fish.
Montevideo, January 20, 1875. (Received February 25.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that since my last dispatch a revolution has occurred here which has resulted in an entire change of the executive of this government.
The recent government having been elected in constitutional form, as a result of compromise between the two parties, “whites” and “reds,” which have from time immemorial divided this country, and having ruled with great moderation, it was hoped that the era of revolutions had passed, and that the country had entered upon a career of prosperity, [Page 1353] for which its situation and natural resources so admirably fit it. But it seems that the fires of party hatred, which, it was thought were extinguished, were only smouldering, ready to break out on the slightest excitement.
To understand recent events, it is necessary to recur to the attitude of parties at the time of the election of the recent President. Of the two parties, the whites and the reds, the latter were the stronger in the chambers, and would, if united, have elected their candidate. But there was a minority of the reds, composed of the wealthier and more intelligent of the party, who were unwilling to vote for the candidate of the majority of their party, (the present provisional governor,) and who put up as their candidate the late President, Dr. Ellauri, a lawyer of wealth and character and of very moderate views. The ultra reds, finding they could not elect their candidate, united with the moderate reds, and thus elected Dr. Ellauri against the candidate of the whites. Dr. Ellauri selected as his cabinet men from both political parties, and ignored the lower more radical and more dangerous men of his own party, the reds. The country, exhausted by constant revolutions, rallied enthusiastically to the support of the new government, and hoped that party feuds were buried, and that the era of peace and prosperity had come. It seems, however, that the ultra reds were merely waiting for a favorable opportunity to overthrow the government of their own creation.
The pretext was given by a bloody riot, which occurred on Sunday, January 10, on occasion of the election of alcalde in this city. While the voting was going on, on the steps of the church, in the public square, the lower reds commenced firing with revolvers upon the dense mass in the square, and the fighting continued until about sixteen were killed and some fifty wounded. The military were called out, and the riot was eventually quelled. The city was thrown into the most intense excitement, and the papers, the next morning, were filled with inflammatory articles denouncing, by name, those most prominent in the riot. Although these men were well known, being, many of them, notorious party leaders, the government made no arrests. The members of the cabinet urged the President to take prompt measures to bring the guilty parties to justice. The President refused to take any action $ whereupon the cabinet resigned en masse. The ultra reds, who have a majority in the lower house, but are in a minority in the senate, sent a deputation to the President, promising to sustain him if he would select his advisers from their ranks. The President refused to do so, and nominated, last Thursday, two cabinet officers from the moderate men; thereupon, the ultras proceeded to make a revolution.
At 1 o’clock, on the morning of Friday, the 15th instant, all the troops of the capital, (four small battalions of infantry and one of artillery,) under their officers, who were all, save one, in the conspiracy, marched from their barracks to the principal public square, where they stationed troops and planted artillery. The officers in conjunction with the ultras, pronounced the deposition of President Ellauri, and named as provisional governor Don Pedro Varela. No resistance was made, whatever. No arrests were made, not a drop of blood shed, nor a gun fired. President Ellauri fled from his house, and took refuge in the consulate of Brazil, and the next day went on board a Brazilian iron-clad lying in the bay, where he has since remained.
The provisional government has removed but few officers, and has preserved, hitherto, the most perfect order. They have acted with great vigor, and have already changed the arms of the infantry for Remingtons. There is no organized military force in the country capable [Page 1354] of resisting them, and it is reported, semi-officially, that the principal chief of the opposite party—the whites—has given in his adhesion to the provisional government.
President Ellauri has not resigned, and has issued no proclamation, and, it is said, has refused to go into the interior and organize an opposition to the revolution. It is quite possible that the revolutionary party, comprising but a small part of the nation, may be suffered to retain power. It is quite certain that they have complete mastery of the capital.
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Provisional Governor Varela has nominated as cabinet officers the following:
Minister of state, Don Isaac de Tezanos; minister of war and marine, Colonel Lorenzo Latorre; minister of treasury and foreign relations, Don José C. Bustamente.
I inclose a translation of an address of the Provisional Governor, Varela, in which it appears that the only charge made against President Ellauri is that he has failed to give offices to the ultra reds.
I have, &c.,