to Mr. Blaine.
Santiago, Chili, July 22, 1881. (Received September 22.)
Sir: I am gratified to be able to report that the cabinets at Santiago and Buenos Ayres have finally determined upon an amicable solution of their boundary dispute, and have executed a treaty to that end. As you know, this controversy has been one of long standing, and of much bitterness. It needs no rash foresight to comprehend that a war between these republics would be a most disastrous one. For years they have been engaged in supplying themselves at great expense with the elements deemed necessary for such a contingency. Millions of dollars which ought to have been devoted to the development of material interests have been expended in the purchase of powerful iron-clads and destructive artillery, all in anticipation of the war which has seemed inevitable.
Appreciating the dangers of the situation on the 15th of November last, after a confidential interview with President Pinto, I took upon myself to address my colleague at Buenos Ayres on the subject, urging that we should use our friendly offices for the purpose of putting the controversy in a way for amicable arrangement. My communication elicited a prompt and approving response, since which time we have exchanged many letters and numerous lengthy telegraphic dispatches, with the favorable result hereinbefore indicated.
The line of division fixed follows the water-shed of the Andes as far south as the fifty-second parallel of latitude, running thence east on said parallel until its crossing with the seventieth degree of longitude, from which point it extends in a southeasterly direction by way of “Monte Aymond” and “Monte Dinero” to “Point Dungennes,” at the mouth of the Straits of Magellan. South of the straits the line commences at cape “Espiritu Santo,” in latitude 52° 40′, and runs thence south upon the longitudinal line of 68° 34′, until its intersection with Beadle Canal. The territory to the east of this line, together with State Island and the adjacent keys, belongs to the Argentine Republic; that to the west, with the remaining islands, is conceded to Chili.
The provision regarding the straits is of vast importance to the commercial world, and I therefore quote it:
The neutrality of the Straits of Magellan is hereby guaranteed in perpetuity, and such straits shall be forever free to the flags of all nations. To secure the neutrality and freedom of navigation above provided for, it is agreed that no fortifications or military establishments which might interfere with the same, shall be erected or constructed.
There will doubtless be considerable opposition in the Chili Congress to the ratification of the treaty; but it is the opinion of those usually best informed, that it will prove of no avail. The administration is strong, and is evidently determined to force the measure through Congress. The provision regarding fortifications in the straits will furnish the chief ground of opposition.
I cannot but regard this as a very happy termination of my diplomatic life here. With this question out of the way, it strikes me that there ought to remain no serious obstacle to a general disarmament in South America.
To-day I am in receipt of a note from the foreign office in acknowledgment [Page 135] of my services in this matter, an English translation of which I herewith inclose.
I have, &c.,