to Mr. Blaine.
Mexico, July 12, 1881. (Received July 28.)
Sir: In conformity with the instructions contained in your dispatch No. 138 (16th June), I sought and obtained an interview with Señor Mariscal on the 9th instant.[Page 774]
I informed him that the Government of Guatemala had made a formal application to the President of the United States to lend his good offices towards the restoration of a better state of feeling between Guatemala and Mexico, and I possessed him, as well as I could, with the contents and terms of your dispatch, taking care to impress upon him that the suggestions therein contained were prompted by nothing but the kindest feelings on the part of the President towards both countries, and that they were made in the interest of peace and harmony between neighboring republics, in whose welfare the United States felt a natural and deep interest.
Señor Mariscal spoke quite earnestly with reference to Guatemala, insisting that it was Mexico that had cause of complaint against Guatemala, instead of Guatemala’s having just cause of complaint against Mexico.
He informed me that some time since a convention had been entered into between the two nations for the purpose of fixing the boundaries thereof, and that the work was not completed because the time allowed therefor had not proved sufficient.
I asked him whether there was any imputation, on either side, of bad faith in not completing the work. He replied that there was not. I inquired of him whether it was true that parties sent out by Guatemala to study the land with a view to proposing a basis of settlement had been imprisoned by the Mexican authorities? He replied that one person had been so arrested, but that his arrest was due to the fact that he had, without permission, proceeded much further upon conceded Mexican territory than he was authorized to do, and that he had been arrested, but that, as soon as the fact of his arrest was made known to the proper authorities he was released, and that he was not in durance more than twenty-four hours.
I asked him whether Guatemala’s agents for the taking of a census of the inhabitants of the territory in dispute had been also arrested and imprisoned. He replied that by the convention above alluded to, it was agreed that pending the survey which was to be made and the final settlement of the boundary between the two countries the boundary should be considered the same as that which had existed in 1874, and that a Guatemala agent who had gone on the Mexican side of that line for the purpose of taking a census of the people in that section (Mexicans) had been arrested.
In reply to the suggestion of the arbitrament of the President of the United States, he replied that whatever Mexico might be willing to accede to in the future, there was nothing at the present moment to arbitrate about. He said that Mexico had proposed to Guatemala to renew the convention for the appointment of a commission to survey the tract of country which was in dispute; that the question of the appointment of such a commission was pending, and that until that question should be decided, there was in reality no dispute to submit to an arbitrator. He also declared that if there had been any delay in the appointing of such a commission, the fault was altogether with Guatemala.
He also said that troops had been sent to the frontier as the President had announced in his message to Congress, but that they were sent there for the purpose of protecting Mexican citizens, and not with any view of making war upon Guatemala. Mr. Mariscal was very earnest in his denials of any cause of complaint on the part of Guatemala, and as to the want of any necessity of an arbitrator; so much so that I deemed it proper, in order that there might be no possible question [Page 775]hereafter, either as to the letter or the spirit of your instructions, or their interpretation by me, I read to Señor Mariscal your dispatch, and offered to send him a copy thereof, which he accepted, and which I did.
I informed him that I should seek another interview with him in order that, after having carefully perused the dispatch, he might be able to give me his views again upon the subject thereof.
Mr. Herrera, the minister from Guatemala here, has frequently spoken to me, in general terms, upon the differences between his government and Mexico, and not long since he said that, practically, there was war between them, and that his country would be forced to appeal to the Government of the United States for protection. In these conversations I took the part of a listener, at the same time that I felt naturally interested in the recital of the wrongs of which he complained, and which, if they existed, were calculated to breed trouble between the two countries; for no one, at least no one who wishes for the success of republican institutions, can look upon any disturbance between the several republics of our continent without concern.
I am, &c.,