No. 532.
Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Blaine.

No. 254.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose to you the copy of a circular, addressed by Piérola, through his chief secretary, García y García, to all the members of the diplomatic corps here, dated Jauja, March 1, 1881, together with an English translation of the same.

[Page 879]

I need not comment upon this except to say that, with the exception of its complaint of the mere paper blockades, it is, in my opinion, as well founded in fact as papers of this kind can be expected to be, and not very materially variant from the actual truth.

I understand from report (though I have not seen the decree) that Piérola has issued a decree for the election of a congress on the first of May next, to meet at Ayacucho on the third day of June next.

I understand also, from general public report, that the Chilian authorities here declare, not only that they will not recognize Piérola as the Government of Peru, nor treat with him, but that they will not recognize a congress called together by him, or elected under his decree. I hope this is not true, since, under present circumstances, it authorizes a more or less strong suspicion that they are seeking to produce or continue such a state of chaos as to afford a pretext for the general spoliation of not only all public property of Peru, but the private property of her individual citizens.

The attempt to form a new Peruvian Government Mere in opposition to that of Piérola, described in my dispatch No. 245, seems from present appearances to have utterly failed. Mr. F. G. Calderon found great difficulty in getting proper ministers to hold offices under him; but when he finally thought he had got this arranged, he, for the first time, as it would seem, began to inquire how far his Chilian friends meant to allow his government to govern.

He requested that the Chilian army should be withdrawn from the city of Lima, that he should be allowed to occupy the government palace and raise over it the Peruvian flag, and that he should be allowed to control the custom-house and the collection of duties, &c., all of which was refused; whereupon, as I understand, his proposed ministers refused to act, and he himself was disposed to decline the task of forming a government; It is now again reported that he has not finally given up the attempt, but as yet nothing definite has resulted.

During the time that these efforts to form a new government were in progress, and while they promised success, the movements previously set on foot by the Chilian authorities for levying war contributions were allowed to rest without any step taken for their enforcement. But as soon as the attempt to form the new government had apparently failed, viz, on the 5th instant, General Saavedra, at present commander-in-chief of the Chilian forces, issued the bando (decree) of the last-named date, a copy of which, with translation, I herewith inclose.

And on the 7th instant he issued the further decree for the collection of $1,000,000 for the month of February, being $20,000 from each of the fifty persons named, of which I also inclose a copy, with a translation.

I call your special attention to the penalty imposed by this decree for non-payment at the day—the destruction of property of the delinquent to three times the amount.

According to the information I have received, and which I think trustworthy, many of the persons named will be able, without much suffering, to raise the $20,000, but many of them will not, as in some cases it is all that the man is worth, and in some much more than he is worth.

In some cases the only property the man owns consists of houses and lots in the city of Lima or in Callao, with furniture, &c., To destroy these by fire would eudanger the whole city, neutrals and natives suffering alike. It may be otherwise destroyed.

But this wanton destruction of private property seems to me to verge very closely upon a violation of that humane law of modern warfare [Page 880] which forbids making war upon unarmed, non-resisting private citizens, or upon their individual property. And though the laws of war seem yet to permit the levying of war contributions, I would suggest that, according to the best and most approved practice of the civilized nations of to-day, that right should only be exercised upon municipalities or other governmental divisions of a country, leaving the local authorities (who much better know the ability of their respective citizens) to apportion the burden.

I had the honor to call your attention to this point in my dispatch of September 17 last, No. 194, in hopes that I might receive some instructions upon it, but as yet I have not had a word in reply.

You will permit me further to suggest, whether if an invading army can levy its contributions directly upon private persons and destroy their property for non-payment, that humane rule of modern warfare which forbids making war upon, seizing, or destroying private property without any offer or idea of compensation, cannot at any moment be set aside by merely changing the name of the operation to that of “contribution.” For instance, the commander of the invading force going to a haciedna or sugar estate says to the owner, “1 want $100,000 out of your property for the support of my army or the expenses of the war; the laws of modern warfare do not permit me directly to seize it or to destroy it, without giving you compensation or promising such compensation in future. But I can demand it as a ‘war contribution,’ without any idea of compensation, and destroy all your property as a penalty for non-payment of that contribution.”

It is respectfully suggested that the distinction between these two modes of proceeding is a very thin and not a very tangible one. (See Woolsey’s introduction to the study of international law, section 130.)

It is right, I think, in connection with the decree of General Saavedra of March 7, above referred to (No. 3/254), to remark that an influential portion of the most influential portion of the Chilian press is very bitter and abusive toward General Baquedano for not having sacked and burned Lima; and how far the severe measures now proposed for collection of the war contributions may have been produced by the influence of that press (an influence which prevented any desire for peace at Arica) I do not know, but leave you to draw your own inference.

It is right also that I should inform you that, from public rumor (which, I think, is generally credited by the diplomatic corps, though I have seen nothing official to warrant the belief), it is generally believed here that the Chilian authorities here intend to carry away with them to Chili not only all warlike material and machinery (of which no one can complain) bat all the paintings, statuary, and libraries belonging Peru and to the municipality of Lima. As to the last, it is sincerely to be hoped that the Chilian Government may not dim the luster of their victory by acts so repugnant to the sentiments of modern civilization; and for one, unless otherwise instructed, I shall be ready to join with the diplomatic corps in an earnest protest against such barbarism.

I have, &c.,

[Page 881]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 254.—Translation.]

Señor García to Mr. Christiancy.


Sir: The war which the Republic of Chili has waged against those of Peru and Bolivia during nearly two years carries with it a complete perturbation of the principles of international law, which, either by tacit consent or by the solemn stipulations of treaties, regulate the action of States in their common relations.

Without dwelling for the present upon the origin, sufficiently elucidated already, of this war, which knows no other cause than the sordid interest of our gratuitous provokers and adversaries, it becomes my duty, now that extraordinary occurrences have created an exceptional situation in the capital of the republic, to call the attention of those nations friendly to Peru to the antecedents which, during the course of the struggle, have marked such irregularities, and the development of which, tenaciously sought by Chili, is the only cause of the agitation in which the South Pacific States still live.

The blockade of our port of Iquique, established by the same squadron which brought the declaration of war against Peru, made by Chili, on the 4th of April, 1879, was the beginning of hostilities against this country.

This act of premeditated surprise was the answer to the friendly steps being at that moment taken in Santiago by our extraordinary mission charged with the re-establishment of harmony between Bolivia and Chili, which had been interrupted by the warlike occupation of the Bolivian port of Autofogasta, consummated on the 14th of February antecedent.

In order to justify its aggressive action, much has been said on the part of the Government of Chili in regard to the treaty of alliance entered into years ago between the Republics of Peru and Bolivia, but it is sufficient to read that document of mutual preservation to become convinced that it involves no hostile intention towards any specified nation, nor much less does it bind them to make common cause in the complications wherein one or the other nation might find itself entangled; each one, on the contrary, reserving to itself the right of declaring when the causus fœderis had arrived, an emergency in regard to which Peru had certainly advanced no opinion whatever.

Solemnly bound as is Chili to the treaty of Paris, which abolished the so-called paper blockades, or those of mere notification, nothing in that undertaking has stopped her, and her vessels after many months of useless delay in Iquique, employed themselves in cruising in various belts of our coast, blockading, by means of simple notifications, ports which they had not naval forces sufficient to close, and which they consequently only visited occasionally.

Private property out of the pale of military operations, the object of the greatest respect in the struggles of modern times, and one of the most precious triumphs of the civilization of to-day, has been, during the contest we sustain, that which has suffered the most frequent and disastrous blows from the land and naval forces of Chili, wheresoever these have presented themselves.

The useless and intentional destruction by fire of Pisagua, Tacna, Mollendo, Chorillos, Barranco, Miraflores, Ancon, Chancay, San Nicolas, Palo Seco, and many other towns and flourishing industrial establishments, as well as the removal and embarkation from all of them of merchandise and household furniture, belonging to natives and foreigners, in full view of all who happened to be present at these different places, bear undeniable testimony to the truth of my assertions.

Unarmed and unprepared as was Peru to sustain a war so carried on, it is not strange that, wanting in a navy sufficient to oppose that of the enemy, the latter, domineering over our extended coast, should with impunity carry his troops and ships wheresoever he might propose to hostilize us. The natural consequence of such military movements could not be other than the unmolested occupation of the unprotected seaboard valleys and towns, or that occupation facilitated as a result of battles, wherein always, and for the same reasons, we fought with inferior forces upon our side.

If, after the advantages gained by Chili, there had at any time followed the enunciation of the motives impelling her to go to war, and of the redress she expected to claim in order to put an end to it, it is beyond doubt she would have evidenced a respect for the customs established between nations who go to war to obtain the legitimate satisfaction of grievances or reparation of wounded interests, and we, listening to her proposals, and bringing them to the light of a calm discussion, would have put a decorous end to the irreparable losses and disasters which the belligerents of to-day will forever lament.

But, far from this, every military advance of Chili in our territory was the signal for new armaments and increase in her expeditionary forces, while in the Congress of Chili and in her press it was that of unreserved propaganda of the annihilation and extermination of Peru.

[Page 882]

This plan, reprobated by Christianity, and which will appear to the right minded impossible to conceive, is nevertheless to all appearances that which presents itself to ns to-day.

Intentionally, and so as not to set forth in this tranquil document the bitterness overflowing the heart of every patriot, I omit the details—moreover, well known—of the manner in which Chili presented herself in the Arica conferences, and of the intentions there revealed by her plenipotentiaries, or to mention the pretended negotiations of Miraflores. History, with her impartial criterion, will judge both events.

The Chilian Government, consistent with its already manifested designs for completing the ruin of Peru, it has been her most constant endeavor, since the occupation of Lima and Callao on the 17th of January last, to promote all kinds of internal dissensions. With this object it has established in the former city a semi-official newspaper, which, issuing from the government printing-office, has occupied itself since its inauguration in spreading abroad all kinds of imposture, in defaming our public men, discrediting the principles governing society, and artfully endeavoring to prove the non-existence of a government, notwithstanding the fact that that of his excellency the Supreme Chief has the obedience of the entire nation, without excepting a single village.

These artful wiles, aimed against the sovereignty of Peru, did not at first possess the gravity they have later attained, since, although the work of well-known authors, they had until now no official character.

After the occupation of Lima, and it being in consequence thereof impossible to treat directly with the honorable diplomatic corps resident in that capital, the government accredited as its confidential agent near that body Dr. Don Manuel Yrigo-yen, whose only duty was to continue the mediation by that corps, and accepted in Miraflores on the 14th of January last.

The interposition of the friendly powers, at the same time that it consulted the decorum of the belligerents, was a sure guarantee of justice and exactness in the solution of the pending conflict, but the peremptory declaration made by the Chilian agents that they would in no case admit that interposition, a resistance impossible of any worthy explanation, although it clearly showed the true views of Chili in the present war, frustrated that efficient mode of solution.

His excellency the Supreme Chief, wishing nevertheless to do away with even the remotest pretext under which our enemies might shelter themselves in order to carry on the war, named plenipotentiaries, fully authorized to negotiate directly a peace with those whom the Government of Chili might see fit to designate with like object.

The conciliatory, efforts of our ministers, Doctors D. Antonio Arenas and D. Lino Alarco, have been entirely sterile. Messrs. Vergara and Altamirano, who state that they possess full powers to negotiate a peace as representatives of Chili, declared that “refusing to treat with his excellency the Supreme Chief they considered themselves as carrying out their instructions, which ordered them not to treat save with a government solidly sustained by the national will.” General Baquedano had also replied to our envoys that Colonel Don Francisco Vergara and Don Eulogio Altamirano were the plenipotentiaries named by the Republic of Chili to treat with those who might be designated by the government which Peru might desire to give herself. We have here, therefore, the commander-in-chief of the Chilian army and the plenipotentiaries of the nation constituted as deciders and arbitrators of the legitimacy of the government of Peru. We have here the fact, new in the annals of the political relations between peoples, of the refusal to admit by a stranger as a national government that which the whole country recognizes as such, and in order that the deformity may be the more monstrous life and impulse are given, beneath the shadow of the Chilian flag, to meetings whose strength lies there alone, establishing thereby an odious protectorate that will always be repudiated by the Peruvian people, whatever the depths of their misfortunes, and in spite of the terrible martial law with which the semi-official organ at the same time threatens public manifestations tending to defend the autonomy and independence of the nation, however tranquil they may be.

I leave to the profound sagacity of your excellency the appreciation of events which you yourself have witnessed, and the truth of which is perfectly known to you.

The authority of his excellency the Supreme Chief having been derived from the confidence which the people of Peru have deposited in him, and which they still maintain, strengthening it daily by new proofs of adhesion, he will maintain unshaken that authority until he can deposit it in the hands of the national representatives, laying it down before the assembly elected by the people, which will soon meet, in accordance with the supreme decree of this date, so that it may also freely deliberate upon the future destinies of the country, in view of the situation created by the causes to which I have referred.

Be pleased, your excellency, to place these facts before the Government of the United States of North America, so worthily represented by your excellency near the Government of Peru.

With sentiments of the highest consideration and esteem, I am, &c.,

[Page 883]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 254.—Translation.]

Decree or bando of General Saavedra (at present commander-in-chief) of the 5th of March, 1881.

No. 496.

Having seen the foregoing note of the minister of war in the field,

I decree:

There shall be established in the city of Lima an office of “Collector of the contributions of war,” whose functions and obligations are as follows:
To take under its charge and inventory the property and things of every kind which the public buildings and establishments (of which the army has taken possession) may contain, as well as all articles of a warlike character.
To point out and take note of all that pertains to the public administration and which may not yet be in possession of the army, for the purpose of providing the proper measures in reference thereto.
To ascertain and take accurate note of all things which have been remitted to Chili, its destination, and the party sending the same.
To inquire what remittances may be properly made to Chili, and to effectuate those that shall be determined upon, specifying the kinds, with all the details and a proper valuation, directing them to the proper parties, as shall be determined upon.
To propose the contributions which are to be collected for the maintenance of the army, and in general for all the expenses which the miltary occupation occasions.
To collect the contributions which shall be decreed, and to deposit them in the commissariat of the army.
To represent the supervision which may be decreed in any of the public establishments or institutions, in the administration of funds.
This office may establish branch offices outside of Lima, with the same object, at other points occupied by the army, previous approval being obtained.
The chief of the office shall propose the rest of the employés and their salaries and a regulation which comprehends the proceedings to be had to fulfill the objects of this office.
Don Alvaro Francisco Alvarado is named chief of the office for the collection of contributions of war, with the salary and compensation which he now has as an officer of the general intendencia of the army and navy in active service.

Let it be recorded and published, and let an account be given to the supreme government for its approbation.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 254.—Translation from Actualidad, March 7, 1881.]

the contribution of war, one million monthly.—list of those who must pay for month of february.

Cornelio Saavedra, general of brigade and in chief of the army of operations of the republic of Chili.

Whereas, having in view the execution of article 3 of the decree of the 9th of February last, and the note of the minister of war of the 5th of the present month,

I decree:

That the department of Lima and Callao shall pay monthly the sum of one million of pesos in silver, or its equivalent in current money, according to the exchange of the time, to meet the expenses of the army of occupation.
The million for the month of February last shall be paid by the persons mentioned below, each of whom shall contribute twenty thousand pesos in coin for his quota.
[Here follow fifty names for 20,000 pesos each.]
The space of eight days is conceded from this date for the persons designated in the foregoing article to present themselves to complete the payment of the quota, fixed at twenty thousand pesos, in coin, assigned to each, into the office charged with the collection of the war contributions ordered by the decree of the 5th of the present month.
If any of the persons named shall not pay his quota within the time fixed, proceedings shall be taken to destroy, for the present, of the property of the delinquent at least three times the value, without prejudice to the right of personal compulsion.
The chief of the general staff, Col. Don Pedro Lagos, is charged with the execution [Page 884] of this decree, and to this end the chief of the office of collection shall give an account on the same day of the term fixed by article 3 of the persons who have failed to make such payment.
From this date no person of Peruvian nationality can absent himself from Lima or Callao without a passport previously issued from the general staff, under the penalty to the infractors of being tried before a military tribunal. This article does not apply to those who travel only between said two cities.

Let it be recorded and published. To the end that this decree shall be brought to the knowledge of all, it shall be published by proclaiming the same in public and fixing it up in hand-bills in the most public places of this city and Callao, it being the intention that this publication shall have the effect of a personal notice.