No. 196.
Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.

No. 235.]

Sir: The return of President Nuñez from the coast was officially notified to his fellow-citizens by means of a proclamation, a copy and translation of which you will please to find inclosed.

In this proclamation President Nuñez recites the benefits which have been secured for Colombia by him during his absence from the national capital. The settlement of the dispute with Costa Rica, the calling of a meeting of Spanish-American plenipotentiaries at Panama, the obtaining of a loan in the United States and the maintenance of peace are the facts, with an account of which the first half of the document is occupied, while the latter half is devoted to an outline of the future policy of his administration, dwelling with much emphasis upon the necessity for the utmost economy in the expenditure of the public funds. * * *

From the measures which have already been taken in the last four days, it would seem as though the promises of President Nuñez were intended to be complied with. * * * Decrees have already been issued to reduce the army from 5,000 to 3,500 men (it could stand a greater reduction); to declare vacant all paid diplomatic and consular appointments on the first of July next; * * * to provide for the reduction in the cash payment of all salaries and pensions to a minimum, the balance to be paid in depreciated treasury scrip; and to establish a national bank with a capital of $1,000,000, which is to commence operations on the 1st of January next. What part this bank is to perform in the regeneration of the country is as yet shrouded in mystery, for as a question of financial policy the establishment of a national bank is perhaps a mistake.

It is gratifying to be able to report to you, however, that with the return of President Nuñez public confidence has been measurably restored, that the country is at peace, and that the only threatening element for the future is in the selection of the candidate for the next presidential term. Perhaps President Nuñez would like to be his own successor, [Page 343] but as that is prohibited by the Colombian constitution the influence of the national bank may be fully developed when the reform of that instrument comes up for discussion during the next session of the Colombian Congress.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 235.]


After an absence of three months, which had for its principal object the prompt recovery of apart of the national territory occupied de facto about the middle of last year by authority of the Government of Costa Rica, I find myself again in the capital of the Union, and the executive power, with the direction of which I am charged, resumes its functions, therefore, as in regular and ordinary circumstances.

The Government of Costa Rica in a spirit of fraternity and of justice, certainly very worthy of praise and even of gratitude upon our part, hastened to repair the momentary offense as soon as it was able to comprehend that thus we considered the indiscreet act of its subordinate agents. The temporary and confidential mission, so ably acquitted of its obligation, that was charged with demanding the evacuation of our territory, has been finally replaced by one which should effect, by means of diplomatic discussion, a definite arrangement as to the ordinary question of boundaries, which will be eventually submitted to arbitration in accordance with the resolve of the senate of Colombia in its last session.

Having promoted the celebration of a diplomatic conference for adoption by the natives of Spanish America, of this principle of arbitration for whatever controversy that may arise between them in fulfillment of what is stipulated in a plan of convention between Colombia and Chili, the constitutional sanction of which I expect, anticipating it by putting it into practice with a country inferior in population and wealth to Colombia, will be an eloquent proof of our cordial adhesion to this humanitarian mode of formally resolving difficulties which are the cause of countless misfortunes, when in order to decide them appeal is had to arms.

The warlike preparation which the not-to-be-disregarded care of the exterior security of the republic obliged us to make, having no object now, the army has consequently been ordered reduced to a limit that at this time seems indispensable for the strict maintenance of internal peace without which all constitutional liberty is endangered, and no improvement, however modest, is practicable.

My accidental residence in the states of the Atlantic afforded me the occasion for intervening with prompt and happy results in the demand for the execution of the revenues of the railroad de facto and unadvisedly initiated by our old foreign creditors when there was being negotiated in New York a loan, as an auxiliary urgently necessary for the improvement of our credit and of our finances in general, whose notorious and progressive prostration, the fruit of errors which we should only recall as a lesson, is already seriously threatening the entire mechanism of the public service, and compromising also, in this manner, the preservation of order which cannot be compatible with the paralysis, however partial, of administrative labor.

The loan was finally negotiated, notwithstanding the obstacle presented by said creditors, and the unfavorable coincidence that the commencement of work upon the interoceanic canal was considered near at hand, which would leave without effective value the clause of the contract with the Panama Railroad Company concerning its prolongation. After six years of repeated fruitless exertions the republic has succeeded in acquiring this extraordinary resource, which will relieve without doubt our financial condition, but in order to amply justify this costly draft upon the future it is indispensable that we carefully apply its product to operations of a reproductive character; and such is the firm purpose of the government, since for ordinary expenditure it would not under any circumstances have endeavored to obtain it.

There have been at the same time opportunely and effectively examined other matters of public interest in the coast, which, although of secondary importance, it was desirable to arrange in time, and with direct knowledge of their respective details. Peace has been preserved with the same stability in the midst of the numerous population of the interior of the republic as in other parts of the country, and this pleasing fact has been a great objective demonstration that there is already established in the Colombian sentiment an odium for armed resolutions, which, except in very rare cases, ever bring upon the people evils much greater than those they seek to remedy, if they do not involve them in awful ruin, without compensation of any kind.

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I now propose to continue the task undertaken to strengthen the spirit of harmony by sustaining the practice of toleration, by the exact fulfillment of constitutional and legal duties, and especially by an impartiality, in which there shall not be the shadow of deception, respecting the exercise of the right of suffrage. To Congress it will be demonstrated that there is vital importance in making considerable reduction in the estimate of expenses, in order to avoid social disaster, which can scarcely be partially regulated by the employment of combinations of credit and other accessory means. Whilst Congress reconvenes and deliberates in the spirit indicated, as I promise it shall, in view of what has occurred, the government will proceed with the greatest moderation in the matter of expenses, deferring all that is of minor importance; since it is not only convinced of the necessity, more than commanding, of substantial economy, but that this is one of the clearest demands of the national opinion, justly alarmed at this time by the penury of the treasury.

This work of common salvation I could not have realized in that part of my term already passed, nor can I succeed in effecting it during that which remains without the co-operation of the country whose affairs it is my duty to administer, in accordance with the solemn promise I gave before God and Congress when I took possession of the Presidency of Colombia. Long ago I expressed the conviction, not only of the inconvenience but of the impossibility of governments of monopoly, and to-day more than ever I find motives to preserve this conviction. The logic of interest, which so greatly dwarfs politics, is as inexorable as any other logic, and in the rigid domination of military prejudices it fatally exalts itself above the apparent causes of the decomposition of great parties. When these are again divided by the true necessities of principles, instead of diminishing, they increase each day the groups that these principles proclaim with the continued accession of strength, which might have until then appeared antagonistic. It is very evident that important and inevitable influences may oblige one who governs to abandon the most mighty and best considered of his purposes; but, so far as I am concerned, I can assure the nation that according as circumstances clearly determine or permit the direct departures from the fundamental rule that are possible shall be corrected, since the first aspiration of a government that thoroughly comprehends its entire responsibility should be the desire to secure the greatest sum of public confidence by means of acts which are in reality capable of inspiring it.