to Mr. Evarts.
Lima, Peru, July 31, 1878. (Received August 21.)
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my dispatch No. 258, of the 26th ultimo, and previous one, No. 255, of May 27, on political affairs.
Since then the preliminary meetings of Congress have been held for the examination of returns, and for qualifying the members supposed to be elected for the biennial session opened on the 28th instant.
The electoral boards commenced their labors on the 13th, and as suggested in dispatch No. 255, the opposition, or “civilists,” qualified many of their partisans, and now have a considerable majority in both chambers, having elected as president of the senate, Ex-President Dn. Manuel Pardo, chief of the civilist party, now absent—a political exile, as the Department was informed in my dispatch No. 172 of January 20, 1877; but all members of either chamber enjoy immunities from arrest or molestation for a certain period anterior to, during, and after the session. Therefore Mr. Pardo is free to return.
On the 28th instant, day by law, the Congress was convened for the opening and the reception of the President’s message. At the assembling of the chambers the minority made an attempt, by non-assistance and pretext of want of quorum, to impede the opening. According to the laws of the country, elections of deputies and senators are accompanied by “duals” or vice-deputies and senators, and in case of absence or death they represent their principals. The “duals” or vice-representatives were called in, and the Congress opened. The President read his message, and all passed off peaceably and quietly. After the delivery of the message, the Congress adjourned over until to-morrow, August 1.
The country is to be congratulated that the Congress has met and all having gone on so peaceably, as fears were entertained and freely expressed [Page 732] of trouble. The two leading papers of the opposition to the “civilists” (principally the church organ, La Sociedad), during the sitting of the preliminary Congress, were filled with Invectives and incendiary articles, and a meeting of the defeated candidates was held demanding a plebiscite.
As these past three days are national holidays in honor of the anniversary of the independence of Peru, no papers are published, and therefore I have no idea of what course the “nationalists” will pursue; but from information acquired through conversation, it is said that the President has had some understanding with the leaders of the “civilists,” and no trouble will be feared.
General Prado has the army under his control, and although small, it is very efficient, well armed and disciplined, besides the police force, a class of gendarmes under a military organization, and have no doubt that any attempt to disturb the order would have been promptly crushed. The leaders of the nationalists say that they have a majority of the country with them, say that the opening of Congress was an illegal act as the quorum of members were not present, and that the “duals” have no representation in such acts. I can impartially say that I believe the wealth, talent, and the greater part of the respectability of the country are in the civilists’ ranks, and the principal opposition to them comes from the Pierolists, and more bitterly from the Ultramontanes.
I am, &c.,