No. 540.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Evarts.

No. 38.]

Sir: It may be of some practical use to give a general indication in relation to the existing status of business and industry in this country—in their relation to activity or depression. A just general conception of this character is likely to be of much moment to those who may at the [Page 941] present time contemplate coming to Venezuela with the view of engaging in business or labor.

From all I have observed and heard and read on the subject since my arrival here, I think it is fair to say that times are decidedly dull in this country, and I hear the opinion expressed that relief will not come until after a good coffee crop.

As some indication of the condition of a portion of the country, I translate part of a communication from a gentleman of the name of B. Tió Segarra, as the same appears in La Opinion Nacional of the 12th instant:

The condition of the west.

Within a period of three months we have traversed the greater part of the States of Yaracui and Barquisimeto, from the river which hears the name of the first State to the important department of Toneyo, Being attached to Venezuela by ties of sincere fraternity, we could not be indifferent to the situation of those people, bowed down by the oppressive weight of their insupportable financial condition, and by the political agitation in which they find themselves plunged, hoping solutions which may mark out a secure channel for the ship which is to convey us to smiling and tranquil shores.

Oppressed by the lack of pecuniary resources with which to meet the dangers of a situation that is as oppressive in peace as irresistible in war, they live day by day a languid life, without taking one step in advance, fearful of the obstacles which are encountered while groping in darkness by unknown paths.

And this bad general condition necessarily affects all classes of society, from the poor day-laborer, who lives by his toil or his industry, to the money-changer, who is the first to close his coffers when the slightest uneasiness supervenes in the country.

The agricultural classes, being greatly straitened by the scantiness of their harvests and the ruinous price of their productions, especially coffee, without hope that the next crop will at least make good their past losses, having to submit to the taking of onerous loans in order not to be completely ruined, find themselves weighed down by that sad discouragement which is a precursory sign of decadence.

Commerce, which is supported by the productions of agriculture, gives no signs of life, and the establishments remain without any mercantile transactions; credits are at an end, and the evil increases, and hence those conflicts which put the merchants in a condition of not being able to meet their engagements. Any accusation, therefore, which is made against the respectable mercantile body of the west is unjust; the general crises in which they find themselves involved can alone determine those cataclysms which at all times and in all countries have been fatally inevitable.

I am told that the condition of things is not so bad in the east and south as in the west; but my understanding is, that for the republic in the aggregate, times are hard, and that in this respect Venezuela takes her place among the many other nations that are experiencing business prostration—thus helping to illustrate that law of consentaneousness, an outgrowth in great part of modern intercommunication, by which prosperity or depression is not confined to any one country, but cause their effects to be felt almost simultaneously throughout the industrial world.

If I were to make a single practical suggestion, in the nature of counsel for others, it would be—-not in general terms to abstain from coming to Venezuela—but to be specially and definitely advised in advance as to objects, ways and means, and in no case to proceed upon vague and indefinite views.

I have, & c.,