to Mr. Evarts
Buenos Ayres, June 12, 1879. (Received August 4.)
Sir: On the 3d instant Dr. Monies de Oca, Argentine minister, and Mr. Balmaceda, Chilian minister, signed a convention postponing for ten years the ratification of the treaty of the limits question of December last, leaving existing disputes to arbitration.
The convention, before going into operation, must receive the approval of the Argentine Congress and that of Chili.
The matter is now being considered and discussed, and has been for several days, by the Argentine Congress in secret sessions, and as yet without result.
The convention establishes the “status quo” for ten years.
Meanwhile, or during the period of ten years, it gives the Argentine Government provisional jurisdiction over Patagonia up to the eastern entrance of the Strait of Magellan, and on the islands and shores of the Atlantic up to the same latitude.
Chili is to hold possession and exercise provisional jurisdiction over that portion of Patagonia now in her possession.
The Strait of Magellan is to be considered neutral and open to the flags of all nations, and neither government is to exercise jurisdiction in its waters, which are to be considered an open or free sea.
Should this convention be ratified by the Argentine Congress and that of Chili, it would not prevent the final settlement of the “limits question” within the ten years, if the two governments should so agree.
The Argentine press and public opinion are divided in reference to the matter. Mr. Frias and his partisans claim that this arrangement is no settlement of the disputed question; that this government should take advantage of the fact that Chili has a war on her hands, and that Chili would be more disposed to yield to the just demands of this country than at any future time, and that if the “status quo” should be agreed to, the time may come, not in the far future, when Chili, extricated from her present difficulties, would under some pretext demand an immediate and final settlement of the question in a mode for which this government might not be prepared.
On the other side, those who have more interest in local affairs, commerce, peace, and the presidential election, are friendly to the convention and desire its ratification.
I do not think that the Argentine Congress will ratify the convention of the 3d, or the treaty of December last, if submitted.
I have, &c.,