No. 336.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Evarts.

No. 854.]

Sir: In my No. 828 of the 4th ultimo, I transmitted copies of correspondence had with the Mexican foreign office, growing out of the complaint which you had instructed me to make to the Mexican Government in regard to the acts of the outlaw Areola.

Under date of the 11th ultimo, the acting minister of foreign affairs continued the correspondence by sending me a lengthy note. It presents no new facts in regard to the original cause of complaint, but is a discussion of the general questions of the Rio Grande frontier, and has evidently been prepared with much care, and designed to place on record the position of the Mexican Government on these matters.

After making an explanation of a portion of his previous note relating to General Ord’s letter, he asks and seeks to answer the two following questions: Is Mexican territory made the base of operations of raiders into Texas, and are they protected or tolerated by the Mexican authorities? And, 2d. If the Mexican Government has up to the present not been able completely to suppress the marauders, does this prove its impotency? The minister answers both these questions in the negative, in the course of which he makes some curious statements, among others, that the authors, in great measure, of crimes committed by raids from Mexican territory into Texas, are citizens and residents of the United States. He also repeats the statement heretofore made, that the Government of the United States does not furnish to that of Mexico sufficient [Page 755] facts and evidence upon which to proceed against the marauders, and intimates that the proper evidence could easily be obtained from American residents in Mexican territory, if not from the American authorities in Texas; and refers to the withholding of detailed facts in the case of Areola. (See your dispatch No. 514 of September 10.)

The minister states that Mexico has demonstrated its desire to adopt adequate measures to suppress raiding, and in proof of this assertion he quotes from the project of treaty presented by Mr. Mata when in Washington last year, showing that Mexico has been the first to suggest the adoption of treaty measures to that end, and that they were not accepted by the United States.

He refers again to the opposition of the Mexican Government to the orders to the American troops to invade Mexican territory, and says it would impliedly consent to such crossing, if it did not condemn the action of whatever Mexican authorities or individuals who co-operate with said troops in Mexican territory.

He informs me that the Mexican Government is obliged to state that, since that of the United States does not care to employ other means to suppress marauders on the Bio Grande frontier than the passage of troops into Mexican territory, and similar offensive acts, it is the Government of the United States, and not that of Mexico, which opposes a grave obstacle to the peace of the border. And he closes by asking that the invasion of Mexican territory, the well-known cause of the absence of harmony, may cease, and it be followed by sincere co-operation on the part of the authorities of both governments, which will result in cordial relations, notwithstanding the influence of persons in Texas interested in prolonging difficulties between the two governments.

While it was not my desire to continue discussion of the questions, I felt that the character of the minister’s note required an assurance from me. In the first place I sought to correct the impression entertained by the minister that the Bio Grande frontier trouble was the only unsettled and important matter pending between the two governments, and I referred briefly to the other cases of difference, which I stated our government was not willing should be treated with silence and neglect.

In regard to the inability of the Mexican Government to properly enforce its authority and repress outlawry on the Rio Grande, I cited several facts connected with the late and the present administrations which indicated such inability. I thought it was sufficient to state that during my residence in Mexico (more than five years) notwithstanding repeated complaints, not a single punishment had followed the long list of raids and crimes, to establish either the protection or tolerance of the raiders by the Mexican authorities.

In answer to the assumption that our government had not furnished sufficient facts and evidence to enable that of Mexico to proceed against the marauders, I told the minister that it ought not to be expected that the Government of the United States would assume the role of public prosecutor, and present a penal indictment against the criminals; and that it ought to be sufficient for it to notify Mexico of the organization on its soil of raiding expeditions, and of crimes and injuries inflicted upon Americans, to lead the latter to adopt adequate measures for the prevention and punishment thereof. To ask American citizens resident in Mexico to become public informers, was to subject them to the persecution not only of the outlaws but of the local authorities) in support of which I cited a recent case in Santa Rosa.

I corrected an error in the minister’s note concerning the Mata project of treaty, and in reply to his argument on that point I answered that [Page 756] the evils on the Rio Grande were hardly to be eradicated by the simple negotiation of new treaties 5 that the outlawry there had not originated so much from the defective treaties as from the failure of the federal Government of Mexico to make its power felt, and its orders respected in that region, and that until the difficulties arising from these causes were overcome, new treaties would be useless.

I declined to rediscuss the propriety or legality of the instructions to General Ord, but referring to the language of your dispatch No. 495, stated that if their enforcement was offensive to Mexico, that could be avoided by the latter suppressing the raids and punishing the raiders. I recognized the truth of the minister’s assertion that crime had diminished on the Rio Grande, if he applied the statement to the lower part of the river, but that the reverse was the case on the upper part of said river, where the raids from Mexico have been more frequent, murderous, and destructive during the present administration than for years past. It was also to be noted that no effort was made by Mexico to suppress the outlawry until after the instructions to General Ord were issued.

The foregoing is a summary of the important points of the correspondence herewith transmitted, and to which I ask your attention, trusting that the positions assumed therein by this legation may meet with the approval of the Department. * * *

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 854.—Translation.]

Mr. Avila to Mr. Foster.

Mr. Minister: On replying, in conformity with instructions which I have received from the President, to your excellency’s note of the 22d of last month, relating to the individual called Areola, I think it unnecessary to commence with a general abstract of it, because I propose to consider separately the points which it contains.

Your excellency is pleased to remind me that I omitted in my former note, referring to this same matter, and dated on the 17th of the said month, to recognize the correctness of your assertion in regard to having informed Mr. Mata, he being secretary of foreign affairs, on August 22 last, of the complaint made in a letter of General Ord’s against the said Areola, and against the local authorities of Jimenez.

When I said to your excellency in my mentioned note that in stating in my note of the 9th of the same month that there was no evidence in this department of the said complaint, my only object was to give the reason why no measure whatever had been adopted with regard to the matter, and I thought that this would be sufficient to prevent your excellency from understanding that I had called into doubt the correctness of your assertion, especially when I had stated afterwards to your excellency that perhaps the matters considered in the conferences of the 22d and 23d of August did not sufficiently fix the attention of Mr. Mata upon that which your excellency might have said respecting Areola and his band.

Believing, then, that your excellency would not interpret as a doubt of the correctness of your statement what was on my part simply an expression of the absence of previous information of the complaint against Arreola, I considered, as the principal point of the note which your excellency was pleased to address me with that at present occupying my attention, the refutation of the charge that the Government of Mexico employed technical defenses for the purpose of excusing its impotency to punish the Mexican bands which raid on the frontier of the Rio Grande; and hence, with that object, I cited to your excellency the reply given by the Hon. Hamilton Fish to a diplomatic representative of Mexico, who asked him to bring to trial certain citizens of the United States accused of crimes committed in Mexican territory. But your excellency considers the cases as different, impliedly maintaining that the said Secretary of State did right in refusing to try said criminals, basing the refusal upon a well-known principle of American law, to the effect that no one can be tried in the United States, except within the judicial district or in the neighborhood where he committed the crime of which he is accused; while the Government of Mexico, in not punishing [Page 757] the acts which the Government of the United States has principally complained of, fails to fulfill a duty recognized by the local laws of all civilized nations.

Your excellency enumerates the following as criminal acts on the part of the government: That Mexican territory is the base of operations for armed bands of raiders who prey upon the people of Texas; that expeditions are organized there, and bands of marauders start out who continually cross the frontier line to murder American citizens and rob them of their property; and that to the said territory they bring the articles stolen and openly dispose of them, either in the public market or at private sale.

The facts being thus stated, the principal charge may appear not unfounded, which your excellency and your government have been making against Mexico, and which really constitutes the alleged cause of the difficulties pending at present between the two governments.

It is notorious that in Mexico, as well as the United States, a state of uncertainty reigns, not free from inquietude and alarm, owing to the character which these difficulties have been taking, and to the danger with respect to which even your excellency has thought proper to call the attention of the President, in the audience which he was pleased to concede to you on the 23d of August last, to the effect that they may occasion a rupture of the friendly relations of the two countries.

It is, for this reason, necessary that the facts alleged as the principal cause of these difficulties, and which appear to be the most serious if not the only cause of the danger of the interruption of peace between Mexico and the United States, should be again rectified through this department.

There are two things to carefully determine in this matter: 1st. Is, in fact, Mexican territory the base of operations of all the marauders who murder American citizens in the State of Texas and rob them of their property?

Is there, in truth, protection or toleration shown on the part of the Mexican authorities toward the bands of outlaws which start from Mexican territory to commit crimes on that of the State of Texas, or towards those who bring from Texas and publicly sell the property stolen from citizens of the United States?

2d. If from the special circumstances of the frontier, its great extent, its sparse population, the demoralization which has spread there, and its distance from its centers of action of both governments, the latter have not, up to the present, been completely successful in suppressing the crimes which are committed there, (although their repetition and importance have been notoriously diminished), and in punishing the authors of said crimes, does this prove the impotence of the Government of Mexico only, causing the responsibility for the present condition of said frontier to rest exclusively upon the government of the latter?

It is concealed from no one that, for reasons differently interpreted, upon which I think proper to refrain from passing judgment, the press of Texas, and, echoing its tone, a large part of that of the rest of the United States, have enormously exaggerated the frequency and the gravity of the crimes committed on the left bank of the Bravo; neither are there persons who can rationally doubt that many of those crimes have been committed by citizens of the United States residing in Texas, although some of them are Mexicans by origin. This circumstance has doubtless had considerable influence, as a general thing, in attributing to Mexican citizens the perpetration of all or almost all of the crimes mentioned.

But if the circumstances of each one of the cases of murder and robbery of which information is had were impartially and scrupaously examined, it would surely be found that the number of those crimes committed by Mexican citizens living in Mexican territory is so small that it could be called insignificant.

Although your excellency, in saying that this territory has been made the base of operations for armed bands of marauders, appears to include even the bands formed of individuals who are not citizens of Mexico, and, as your excellency refers in the note containing this charge against the Government of Mexico to the impotency which you attribute to it to punish Mexican citizens who raid on the frontier of the Rio Grande, the fact that those who commit all or the greater part of the crimes referred to are Mexican citizens not being proved, as I think I can assert it is not, should be sufficient to refute the said charge as unfounded.

But even admitting that the Mexicans by origin, citizens of the United States and residents of Texas, who are the authors in a great measure of those crimes, may also have made Mexican territory the base of their operations, it would remain to be proved that these individuals openly prepare their expeditions without concealing themselves from the authorities which might prevent their being carried into effect.

It does not appear reasonable that they should proceed thus, even when in fact they may not fear the action of the authorities, because they would expose themselves, if their preparations were publicly made, to the liability that information might reach the very persons against whom they wish to raid, or to the American, authority nearest at hand, which might frustrate their criminal intentions, since, although (with offense Jo all the Mexican residents on the right bank of the Bravo) it should be supposed [Page 758] that there was not among them a single one sufficiently honorable to give such information, there is hardly an inhabited point £here where there are no American residents who cannot be thought to be interested in preventing in the mentioned way the consummation of the said crimes. It is natural that those who prepare to commit them should act with caution and reserve, it being impossible to presume in consequence that the authorities have opportune notice of their acts, and that, having such notice, they do nothing to prevent them.

Nothing but satisfactory proofs of acts of a contrary nature can outweigh this rational presumption. And when these acts are the basis of charges as grave as those which have been made against the Government of Mexico by the United States, and when by its being understood that such charges are not successfully refuted, the peace is endangered between two republic’s whose inhabitants in great majority are positively interested in its preservation, it seems to be opportune that these acts should be specified and their proofs indicated and examined.

It is well understood that in order to assist in the repression of crimes under consideration proofs should not be required as perfect as those demanded by the laws of all countries for the decision of contested points between private individuals, but at the least it is to be ascertained that they embrace the indispensable requisites for convincing those who, without prejudice, are to investigate the truth.

It would be proper, first, to individualize the cases in which bands of marauders have been formed in Mexican territory with the certain or probable knowledge of the local authorities, for the purpose of examining afterwards the proofs of complicity or culpable tolerance attributed to those authorities.

Perhaps the case of Areola may be the first in which the authority has been designated which is charged with protecting marauders.

Your excellency was pleased to say to me in your note of the 5th of last month the following:

“It is reported on the best authority that the officer in command of the Mexican troops at Piedras Negras is not merely cognizant of the repeated thefts of American cattle, but that he positively protects the raiders, furnishing them with arms, on occasion, and is moreover a receiver to a large extent of the stolen property, feeding his troops even, upon the beef.”

After mentioning certain names of persons, many of whom, if not all, your excellency is certain, in conformity with your information, may be counted among the marauding Mexican-citizens, your excellency is pleased to add: “Upon such a statement of facts (which, for sufficient reasons, is not made more definite) there can exist no reasonable doubt that the central authority of Mexico should find it feasible, even in the absence of supplementary information, to pursue and vigorously punish these particular offenders.”

I do not remember, nor have I found among the documents which I have been able to hastily consult relative to complaints more or less direct of the United States against Mexican authorities for robberies committed on the frontier, whether before now any charge has been made with the specifications given by your excellency in the preinserted paragraphs of your said note; and, nevertheless, even your excellency states that the relation of the facts referred to might be more exact. In fact, in order to hope for a complete result from the investigation of the facts which may be instituted, it would have been proper to determine one or more particular facts, designating even approximately the date when it occurred and the place from which the property might have been stolen which the commander of Piedras Negras is accused of receiving.

So much with regard to the acts upon which it has been attempted to base the charge. With regard to their proofs your excellency has limited yourself to a single reference to those in your possession, stating that they are of a respectable character, but not stating even in what they consist; nor less do you transmit a proof of them, which might occasion the immediate trial of the chief denounced as guilty.

The government could only, in view of your excellency’s complaint, order an investigation to be instituted with regard to the conduct of that chief, and it ordered it at once through the respective channels, as I had the honor to state to your excellency in my note of the 8th of last month.

But if your excellency had been pleased to communicate to this department the proofs which you may have had of the charge made against said chief, or if you had designated the person who could furnish them on proceeding to the trial, the government would have at once ordered it, and it is disposed to do so if your excellency will be so kind as to furnish such proofs.

It will also order the trial of Areola as soon as it may obtain the necessary data for that purpose; since without such data, although the said individual should be arrested, his detention could not continue longer than three days without the existence of some proof of the culpability attributed to him.

Up to the present time this department has, as the only datum, the fragment of the private letter of General Ord, addressed to your excellency on the 25th July last, and included in your note of the 14th of last month: “You know,” says General Ord, [Page 759] “that the remedy rests with the Mexican Government. If it desires to prevent United States troops from crossing the Bravo, it has only to punish the raiders severely enough so stop their raiding. Then they won’t make any trails. We, of course, cease to cross in pursuit when there is no one to pursue. That can he done by expelling or returning the Kickapoos, and arresting and extraditing a few such men as Areola, who is the head raider at a place on the river called Newtown (Ximenez), and where the Mexican authorities, to show their contempt for our application for his punishment, have made him the military commander.”

This fragment of a letter contains two positive assertions regarding Areola, to wit, that the punishment of this individual has been asked of the authorities of Jimenez, and that those authorities, in place of complying with such petition, have made him the military commander.

With respect to these two points, information has been asked of the superior military and civil authorities of the said place, and if it should result from this information that the charge against them is well founded, the government will cause the proper punishment to be inflicted upon them.

But with regard to the said Arreola, no specification of the crimes attributed to him is contained in the letter of General Ord, in the part inserted in the note of your excellency; and the only act of which, up to the present time, this department has information, is the threat which your excellency, in your note of the 4th of last October, stated that Arreola had made, on the 8th of August last, against Don Jose Maria Cardenas, he being upon the ranch of the latter, to burn the said ranch and another adjoining it.

This act having taken place in the territory of Texas, it is not comprehended in the enumeration made by your excellency of the criminal proceedings of Mexican authorities.

I believe, hence, that I can affirm, in concluding, that which relates to the supposed impotency of the Government of Mexico to punish the crimes committed within national territory, that such impotency is not established by the specification of facts proven in any proper manner.

I hasten, nevertheless, to add that the Mexican Government, understanding that the situation of the frontier demands unusual measures on its part, as well as on the part of the Government of the United States, in the treaty project which it proposed, under date of June 30, 1877, for the adjustment of the difficulties occasioned on this account between the two governments, included the following clause:

“Each nation shall provide adequate legislation imposing penalties: 1st, on the authors of the crime of cattle-stealing; 2d, on the persons who, not having been authors of the crime, conduct into its territory the stolen animals; 3d, on persons who, within its territory, buy and traffic in animals stolen in the other; 4th, on persons inside of its territory who agree together and conspire to commit those crimes in the other nation; 5th, on the persons who hide the stolen animals, or favor in any other way the commission of the crime.”

The Government of Mexico in proposing to that of the United States a reciprocal agreement of this character has very clearly demonstrated its desire to adjust the legislation of both countries to the peculiar circumstances of the frontier; and if, in fact, in the local laws of the frontier States there may be certain amendments required for the purpose of securing the efficient suppression of the crimes planned in the territory of one of the two nations in order that they may be committed in that of the other, or for the purpose of preventing the marauders from profiting by the fruits of their robberies, in no manner can a charge on this account be made against the Government of Mexico, which has been the first to suggest the adoption of those measures, upon the irrefutable basis of perfect reciprocity.

But the said project of international agreement, which contained various other measures direct to that object, has not been taken into consideration by your excellency’s government because it was indicated in it that the project for the passage of the forces of one nation to the territory of the other in pursuit of thieves was not admissible by the Mexican Government.

The same spirit which inspired the Government of Mexico to make this determination, to wit, the desire to preserve inviolable the national sovereignty, has also inspired the reprobations of the said government in the cases mentioned by your excellency in the note to which I reply, regarding the co-operation lent by two officials, and a certain subordinate authority, to parties of troops of the United States which have invaded the territory of Mexico in pursuit of marauders or to recover objects stolen.

The co-operation which the Government of Mexico has shown itself disposed to lend for the repression of the crimes committed on the frontier of Texas, whoever the authors may be, is not of this kind, Mr. Minister. It has very clearly stated that in no manner will it give its consent for the passage of American troops to Mexican territory, if not in virtue of a special agreement, and only for the pursuit of savages in desert regions; and it would impliedly consent to such passage of troops if it should [Page 760] not condemn the co-operation with invading parties of persons constituted as authorities, however low their office, and even of private individuals who should consent to serve as guides or otherwise to such parties.

Besides the passage of troops in pursuit not only of savage Indians in desert regions hut of marauders, which latter would certainly, far from being efficacious in the accomplishment of its object, create imminent danger of collisions, and give occasion for grave abuses, the Government of Mexico has shown itself disposed, and is so at present, to agree with that of the United States upon the adoption of unusual measures, equal for both parties, for terminating the depredations committed on the frontier of the two republics.

It has also shown its positive anxiety in the repression of crimes, and it is notorious that, due to it, these crimes have considerably diminished in the last two years. If they are still committed it is in a relatively very small number for constituting a cause of serious difficulty between the two governments, especially when that of Mexico simply refuses, for their adjustment, its consent for the passage of troops to its territory unless under the restrictions of a special convention, and only for the pursuit of savages in desert regions.

Your excellency closed your note, of which this is the answer, by asserting that since the Government of Mexico disapproved of the co-operation of its own officials and citizens in the repression of the marauders of the frontier of the Bio Grande, it is not strange that the latter are unpunished, and that such proceedings justify the charge of the impotency of the government to punish said criminals.

The Government of Mexico, on its part, finds itself obliged to state that, since that of the United States does not care to employ other means for the repression of the marauders of the frontier of the Bravo than to cause the passage of its troops to Mexican territory, at one time in the pursuit of marauders and at others in order to recover property stolen by them, and even to threaten the inhabitants of the frontier towns and arrest their authorities, as was done at Las Vacas and at Jimenez, and since it appeals to these violent measures which constitute an offense to the national sovereignty without having other result than to irritate passions upon the frontier and a natural resentment in the rest of the republic; while, with the measures proposed by the Government of Mexico, or similar ones, the prompt re-establishment of security in that region might be expected, it is the Government of the United States and not that of Mexico which opposes a grave obstacle to the consummation of so desirable an object.

Nothing would be so efficient for this purpose as a good understanding between the military chiefs and between the local authorities of both frontiers, since the co-operation which they would mutually lend within their respective territories would, in a short time, cause the success of marauding expeditions to be impossible, and the raiders would soon be known and tenaciously pursued until exterminated; but nothing makes this harmony so difficult as the profound displeasure which excites the passions upon the repetition of so grave an offense as that of the passage of troops from one nation to the territory of the other.

Let, then, this well-known cause for the absence of harmony cease, and let it be followed by sincere co-operation among the said chiefs and authorities, and without any doubt, whatever, the pursuit of the marauders of the frontier will be efficient.

If there is in the State of Texas, as is generally believed, a number of persons, more or less considerable, who are interested in the existence of difficulties upon the frontier, the Governments of Mexico and the United States, which have in charge respectively the general interests of these two republics, and understand how prejudicial it is to these interests to prolong the existence of such difficulties, will, without doubt, make loyal and simultaneous efforts to reach promptly a pacific adjustment, and insure for the future, upon the solid basis of the interests of both countries, the most cordial relations of their governments.

I improve this opportunity to renew to your excellency the protestations of distinguished consideration, with which I am your excellency’s obedient servant,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 854.]

Mr. Foster to Mr. Avila.

Sir: Temporary absence from this capital has prevented my earlier attention to your honor’s note of the 11th instant. It would seem to be a reply to my brief note of the 22d ultimo, occasioned by the acts of one Areola, a Mexican outlaw, who, for a long time past, has been using Mexican territory as a safe base of operations for raids [Page 761] into American territory adjacent to the Rio Grande; but it is in fact a discussion of almost all the points at issue connected with frontier affairs, which have for so long a period occupied the attention of the two governments. I had hoped that we had, in great measure, passed the stage of detailed discussion of these questions, and that the Mexican Government had taken the resolution to adopt vigorous and adequate measures to prevent its territory from being made the secure base of operations for raiding parties into the United States, and the safe and profitable place of deposit of the plunder of these bandits. But it would appear from your honor’s note that the Mexican Government still regards discussion of these questions as desirable. While I do not consider it necessary to enter at length upon the broad field to which said note seems to invite me, and to repeat considerations so often presented in conferences and correspondence between your honor’s department and this legation, the nature of your said note requires that I should notice some of the points contained therein.

It is true that the condition of affairs on the Rio Grande frontier is the most serious present cause of danger of the interruption of peace between the United States and Mexico, owing to the exposure of the forces of the two governments to conflicts; but it must have been an inadvertence on the part of your honor to indicate that it was the only cause of danger to the friendly relations which ought to exist between the two republics. To make such an assertion is to cast aside or hold as of no consequence the many repeated and grave complaints and demands which the Government of the United States has made through this legation to your honor’s government in the past two years, and which have been wholly rejected or treated with silence.

It ought not to be expected that because the Mexican Government has definitely refused to satisfy these complaints and demands, or has for a long period of time neglected to respond thereto, that on this account my government would desist from its determination to secure a just settlement thereof. When the honor of the American flag is involved, or the lives, liberty, and property of American citizens are concerned, it is difficult to weigh in scales and precisely designate the relative importance of one question or outrage over another. While the long-existing depredations and outlawry on the Rio Grande have greatly irritated the people of the United States, and their government has, after much waiting and remonstrance, decided upon measures which it hopes will tend to give relief to that distracted frontier, it has not forgotten nor abandoned, nor is it willing that the Government of Mexico should forget or neglect, other very important and serious questions, without a just settlement of which it is useless to expect a state of cordial and friendly relations to exist.

To be satisfied that this assertion is well founded, your honor need only refer to the conferences and correspondence had between this legation and the Mexican foreign office since the advent of the present administration of Mexico. They will show that said administration has refused or failed thus far to meet the demands of the Government of the United States on account of the forced loans exacted from American citizens, the imprisonment and outrages inflicted upon them, and the illegal and arbitrary confiscation of their property, all of which acts were by the direct orders of the officers of the present Mexican Government. The insults to the American flag, the outrages upon American commerce, and the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of an American consul and other acts of Mexican officials at Mazatlan and Acapulco yet remain unatoned. To the complaint of my government, made nearly twelve months ago, against the action of the State authorities of Yucatan in nullifying provisions of the treaty of commerce of 1831, no answer has been made by the Federal Government of Mexico, although repeatedly asked for by me.

A reference to the records of your honor’s department will show that there are other grievous complaints and wrongs unsettled, which my government will not consent to have remain in their present unsatisfactory state. However great, therefore, as is the importance of an adjustment of frontier difficulties, your honor ought not to infer that it is the only question of importance requiring the earnest attention of the Mexican Government.

In the note of the 11th instant your honor propounds and answers negatively two questions: First, whether the Mexican authorities protect or tolerate the outlaws who make its territory the base of their raids; and, second, whether the failure to punish the outlaws proves the impotency of the Mexican Government.

It is to be borne in mind that the disorders on the Rio Grande, and the injuries suffered by the citizens of the United States therefrom are not of recent origin, but have existed in greater or less degree for many years. It is also to be remembered that during these years the general, if not normal, state of the Mexican territory adjacent to the Rio Grande has been one of revolution, or suspended civil authority of the central government. In the past twenty years, for say three-fourths of that time, the established Federal Government has been more or less impotent to enforce its authority in that region. In the brief intervals of peace which remained, so much of the energies of the central government have been devoted to repairing the ravages of war and in consolidating its own power, that it had given very little attention to the disordered state of its northern frontier. For a considerable period after the accession [Page 762] to power of the government of General Diaz, the Minister of Foreign Affairs excused to me the want of attention to the Rio Grande border on account of the imperative necessity which he said it felt to re-organize its interior regimen; and no longer ago than in the interviews which I had the honor to hold with President Diaz on the 23d of August last, His Excellency referred to this state of affairs as having existed. In view of these historical facts, it is to be inferred that your honor intended to claim that the Mexican Government was able to enforce its authority on the Rio Grande in a period of comparative tranquillity such as at present exists in this republic.

In the year 1875, when the country was enjoying a condition of tranquillity relatively as great as for the past six months, I urged some active measures upon the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, in view of the recent occurrence of a disastrous raid into Texas. Mr. Lafagua, whose long and intimate knowledge of the condition of the country, and the power of his government, I have no doubt your honor will readily recognize, answered me, in effect, that it was very difficult for the Mexican Government to maintain in that region a large force to suppress the raiders, for the reasons, 1st, that troops could not be sent to that quarter without fear of desertion; 2d, the internal troubles of the country rendered it impossible; and 3d, in the state of the national treasury a sufficiently large force could not be maintained there. Do not these reasons exist even with greater force now than in 1875? Your honor may answer that the forces which the government has been maintaining on that frontier disprove this assertion; but it is understood that, excepting the city of Matamoras, the greater portion of these forces have been stationed at Monterey or other interior points where they could be of no service in preventing or punishing the raids; and that even those which were adjacent to the frontier have been mainly engaged in suppressing revolts against the government. Your honor will remember that the Diario Oficial has announced that the campaign in which these forces are now said to be engaged against the raiding Indians has been delayed till the present time on account of the civil disturbances—all of which goes to establish either the neglect or inability of the government to discharge its international obligations.

The fact, which I have more than once cited, that during my residence in Mexico, notwithstanding repeated complaints and demands on the part of my government, not a single punishment has been inflicted upon raiders into American territory by the Mexican authorities, ought to be sufficient to establish either the protection or tolerance of the raiders by those authorities if, as your honor contends, they possess the power to punish them.

The leading point urged in the note of the 11th instant is that the Government of the United States has not furnished data sufficient upon which the Mexican Government and its authorities could proceed to the trial and punishment of the raiders who organize expeditions on its territory, or bring therein their plunder stolen in the United States; and your honor insists upon detailed facts as to events, dates, and persons, such as would justify criminal proceedings, and that until these are furnished the authorities cannot be charged with protection or tolerance of the outlaws. In the intercourse of nations, and especially in the friendly state of relations which ought to exist between two neighboring republics, it appears to me that the government of the one ought not to be required by the other to assume the role of public prosecutor, and be expected to present a penal indictment, or the facts necessary to constitute a formal arraignment of criminal raiders. It ought to be sufficient for the United States to notify Mexico of the organization on its soil of raiding expeditions, and of the crimes and injuries inflicted upon American citizens and property thereby, to lead the latter to the adoption of such measures as would secure the punishment of the criminals and the prevention of future raids. After these long years of murder and plunder of American citizens in their own homes by bands of outlaws proceeding from Mexican territory, and after repeated notice and complaint on the part of my government, it does not evince a proper disposition to discharge international duties to be told by the Mexican Government, as the note of the 11th instant virtually does, you have furnished no proofs; we want detailed facts, names of particular criminals, and the witnesses, before we can proceed, and until you do this you cannot allege that crimes are committed or that we fail to punish the criminals.

Your honor would seem to maintain that it would not be difficult for my government to furnish detailed proof of the organization of raids and of the neglect of the Mexican authorities to prevent or punish them, as you state that American citizens are residing at all points along the Rio Grande where raids are said to be committed, I am not informed by the Secretary of State of the reasons why he refrained from entering more into detail as to the sources of information or the facts connected with the late acts of the Mexican outlaw, Areola, to which your honor refers; but you can hardly be ignorant of the state of lawlessness and disorder which has prevailed on the Mexican side of the frontier, and of the spirit of hostility and resentment manifested there on slight occasion against Americans, both by the people and, in too many cases, by the authorities. In such a state of affairs it could not reasonably be expected that when the authorities themselves stand in awe of the outlaws, American residents [Page 763] would voluntarily and publicly appear as witnesses against them. This may be illustrated by facts which have recently been made public in the press. After the disastrous raid made last spring by Mexican Indians into Texas, information was given to General Ord by certain residents of Santa Rosa, that the authorities and people of that locality were harboring some of the Indians who participated in that raid and profiting by their plunder. When the news of this report reached the authorities of Santa Rosa, it is stated that they summoned all the American residents of the locality before them, and sought to require them by force and threats to sign a declaration that the former report was not true! When such irregular and unwarranted proceedings are enacted by the local functionaries, how can it be expected that American residents will become voluntary witnesses against the raiding outlaws? And until the Federal Government of Mexico will lay aside its technical demands, and will by most energetic measures put an end to the reign of terror inspired by the criminals, it need not expect American residents or its own citizens to become informers or witnesses, nor its local authorities to be just and earnest administrators of the criminal laws.

Your honor asserts that the persons who make Mexican territory the base of their operations into Texas are, in most part, not Mexican citizens, but citizens of the United States of Mexican origin. The citizenship of the thieves and raiders is of very little consequence. It should be enough for the Mexican Government to be informed that its territory is being thus used for criminal purposes, and is made a place of refuge by depredators on American territory. It is very little consolation for the people of Texas, when they complain of the murder of their relatives and friends and the destruction or robbery of their property by outlaws proceeding from and fleeing to Mexican territory, to be told that the authors of the crimes are citizens of the United States of Mexican origin. Your honor furnishes no evidence to establish that fact, and I have none such in my possession; but even if true, it does not make the duty of the Mexican Government to punish them the less imperative, nor does it relieve the local authorities from the charge of protecting the thieves of their own blood and kin, that they are citizens of the United States by treaty.

I think your honor has fallen into an error, possibly on account of your brief connection with the foreign office, in stating that the project of treaty presented by Mr. Mata, while in Washington in 1877, was not taken into consideration by my government, because it was indicated that the passage of the boundary by troops in pursuit of thieves was not admissible by the Mexican Government. In the first place, the said project of treaty is entirely silent on that point. In the second place, my government did not decline to take it into consideration solely on the ground that it did not contain a provision as to the pursuit of thieves across the boundary by the troops of one or the other nation. In my conference with Mr. Vallarta, on the 22d of August, 1877, I informed him that my government recognized in said project several desirable provisions, but that it was not accepted because it was not adequate and complete. As your honor seems to consider the treaty project made by your government as a full remedy for the evils existing on the Rio Grande, it is proper to remark that the disorders on that frontier can hardly be eradicated by the simple negotiation of new treaties. There is no good reason why, under the existing treaties between the two countries, the raids should not be suppressed, the thieves punished, and protection afforded to life and property on the Rio Grande. The outlawry in that region has not originated so much from defective treaties as from the failure of the Federal Government of Mexico to make its power felt and its orders respected there, and from the sympathy or tolerance of the local authorities toward the outlaws. And as I have repeatedly said, this is the important matter to which the Mexican Government should address its attention; and until it can overcome the difficulties arising from these causes, it is useless to discuss new treaties, or make conventions or agreements, which Mexico may not have the power to enforce.

The Mexican Government has, your honor states, indicated very clearly that in no manner will it consent to the passage of American troops into its territory, except by special agreement, in pursuit of savages, and only in desert regions. A more careful examination of the records of the department over which your honor so worthily presides, will show you that when the Government of Mexico was desirous of securing its official recognition by that of the United States, the minister of foreign affairs made me a written proposition for the crossing of the boundary by the troops of either nation in pursuit not only of savages, but of cattle thieves, and not only in the desert, but also in the populated regions of the frontier. It was not until after the official recognition took place, and after much hesitation, that the limited proposition to which you refer was made.

I do not desire at this time to rediscuss the propriety or legality of the instructions to General Ord, so often referred to in the note of the 11th instant. Your honor does injustice to the friendly disposition of my government in asserting that it does not care to employ other means to restrain the marauders on the Rio Grande than the enforcement of those orders. What other means, I may ask, remain for it? For many years its citizens have suffered from these marauders, issuing from Mexican territory, [Page 764] and it has patiently waited, hoping that its repeated remonstrances and requests for vigorous measures would have some effect upon the Mexican Government. It has in vain proposed reciprocal co-operation. It has given information of repeated raids, and asked for the punishment of the criminals without avail. It has, time and again, requested permission for its troops to follow the raiders into their places of refuge in Mexican territory, only to he refused. As stated in the dispatch of the Secretary of State, a copy of which I sent to your honor’s department on the 10th of September last, the first duty of a government is to protect life and property. This duty the Government of the United States has determined to perform to the extent of its power toward its citizens on the border. It has not sought the unpleasant duty forced upon it of pursuing offenders, who under ordinary usages of municipal and international law ought to be pursued and arrested or punished by Mexico. Whenever Mexico will assume and efficiently exercise that responsibility, the United States will be very glad to be relieved from it. It will be seen that these views of the Secretary of State are only repeated in other words by General Ord, in the extract quoted in your note of the 11th instant. “You know,” he says, “that the remedy rests with the Mexican Government. If it desires to prevent United States troops from crossing the Bravo, it has only to punish raiders severely enough to stop their raids.”

Your honor refers to the diminution of crimes on the Rio Grande under the present administration of the Mexican Government. As I have had occasion to say before, such declaration cannot have reference to the Upper Rio Grande, where the raids from the State of Coahuila into Texas have been more frequent, murderous, and destructive during the present administration than for years past. It is true that outlawry has considerably diminished on the Lower Rio Grande. But it is also true that no effort was made by the Mexican Government to suppress it until after the instructions to General Ord were issued. It is claimed by the American authorities in that region that the existence of these instructions has been the chief influence in bringing about this long-desired result, and that following their promulgation two marked effects have been noticed: 1st, the Mexican authorities have been awakened to the necessity of some decided action on their part; and, 2d, the raiders know that if they commit depredations in Texas Mexican Territory will no longer afford them a safe refuge from pursuit.

With the part of your honor’s note I can heartily agree, in which you state that nothing would be so efficient for the re-establishment of security on that border as a good understanding between the military chiefs and between the local authorities of both frontiers. This is precisely the measure which I have so often urged upon the Mexican Government. The first suggestion which I made to the minister of foreign affairs, after the accession to power of General Diaz, was that a prudent and prominent general should be sent, with a sufficient force, to the Rio Grande, with orders to place himself in direct and friendly communication and co-operation with General Ord. It is to be regretted in this connection that the effort which this officer made last month to have a conference with General Trevino, by special appointment, at Piedras Negras, was not successful, owing to the failure of the latter to meet his engagement, as I am informed. It is to be hoped that the movement now said to be on foot for the arrest, punishment, and removal of the Lipan, Mescalero, and Kickapoo Indians by General Trevino may prove entirely successful and complete. I have already reported it to my government and will be highly gratified to be able to announce its perfect consummation. Its accomplishment will be an earnest of the power and good disposition of your honor’s government which I will not fail to recognize, and which I trust will be the beginning of an era of co-operation by the authorities referred to by your honor which cannot fail, if followed up, to have the best results.

With the renewed assurance of my marked consideration, I remain your honor’s obedient servant,