No. 668.
Mr. Caldwell to Mr. Fish.

No. 16.]

Sir: The political condition of this country has remained substantially unchanged since my dispatch No. 14 of February 16. While there is much uneasiness and a general want of confidence, there is no organized opposition.

Since my last dispatch, the government has arrested fifteen of the leading “whites” (blancos) of this city, and, after keeping them some days in prison, put them on board a sailing-vessel, which it chartered and turned into a man-of-war by placing on board a cannon and a guard of sixty men with their officers. This vessel, the “Puig,” has sailed with destination of Havana, where these prisoners are to be landed. The cause of these arrests is alleged to have been a conspiracy to overthrow the government and assassinate its officers, the particulars and the proof of which have not yet been made public. The guilt of some, at least, of these parties-is generally disbelieved.

The terror inspired by this act was great, and many leading men, supposed to be obnoxious to the government, have fled the country, most of them taking refuge in Buenos Ayres.

Aside from political troubles, there is a great monetary crisis. Two of the strongest banks have suspended payment, and business is entirely [Page 1357] prostrate. The new government has already issued three millions of paper-money, and there is a project of law to issue seven millions more, at the same time making it legal tender. The minister of the treasury also proposes to pay the interest of the internal national debt in this irredeemable paper. If this becomes law, it will cause the ruin of many commercial houses which are large holders.

Very respectfully,