Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Blaine.
Lima, Peru, April 4, 1881. (Received April 26.)
Sir; Referring to my dispatches, Nos. 257, 264, and 273, in reference to the question, What is the Government of Peru? I have now the honor further to inform you that since my dispatch No. 273, the alcalde (mayor of the old municipality under the Piérola government) refused to carry out the unanimous resolution of the municipal council, and allowed the council of 1879 to come in and take possession in accordance with the decree of the provisional government of Garcia Calderon. I will further say that this is the only indication, since the above dispatches, of the acceptance of the provisional government by Peru.
Even the northern provinces, upon which it counted (and where I supposed the terror of the Chilian arms would have secured the adherence of the people), seem to be overwhelmingly opposed to the provisional government of Calderon, and to adhere to Piérola. This is also the case in the south. Arequipa, upon which the new government relied, [Page 892] so far as it has spoken at all, has pronounced in favor of Piérola, and so in Pisco, and almost everywhere; though in all these localities, many of the people, feeling the absolute necessity of an immediate peace, were disposed to support the new government, which, however, to me seems, thus far, to have lost rather than gained in popular favor.
The interests of Peru undoubtedly require the earliest possible peace, and in this view I am inclined to think it would be best for Peru to acquiesce in the new government. But my own opinion of the expediency of the one or the other can have no weight upon the question of recognition; all I am to regulate my own conduct by upon that question is the consideration, which is the Government of Peru; and however much I might think the majority have erred in their choice, yet, upon the question of recognition, I shall be compelled to follow that decision unless I receive other instructions from your Department. At present all the indications are that nearly all the inhabitants east of the Andes still adhere to Piérola, and that the same is the fact with the majority between the mountains and the coast.
Each of these governments (so called) has called a congress—that of Piérola to meet at Ayacucho on the 3d of June, and that of Garcia Calderon to meet at Lima or its vicinity on the 15th of May. If both succeed in getting a congress together, it would seem that confusion will be still more confounded and that chaos must reign supreme.
Referring to my dispatch No. 257, I will further say that this provisional government assumed to pay, and I think did pay, $200,000 of the forced contribution of $1,000,000, imposed by the Chilian authorities upon fifty Peruvian citizens of Lima and Callao, and further assumed to pay the balance of $800,000 by the 14th April. And in the attempt to carry out this undertaking this provisional government has assessed the leading capitalists such sums as in their judgment they can pay, including in this assessment a few Americans and other neutral citizens (which the Chilians did not).
Some of our American citizens domiciled here will doubtless pay under protest, as I have advised all who have applied to me to do, if they pay at all. Others will not pay, but by my advice will insist, without admitting the validity of the provisional government, that even if the legitimacy of the government be admitted, it has no right to compel American citizens to pay, as it is a forced contribution, or forced loan, which is forbidden by the second article of our treaty of September 6, 1870, with Peru.
If compelled by force to pay, I shall advise them to pay under protest. Of course, if a general tax should be ratably imposed upon the real estate of Lima, &c., including American citizens, by a government acknowledged as the Government of Peru, or being in fact such, taxes of this kind would have to be paid in the same manner as if the owner were a native citizen of Peru. But the present imposition is not of this character, but is simply imposed upon the person.
I have, &c.,
P. S.—Since writing the above, one American citizen who protested against the right to impose 40,000 soles as a contribution to meet the Chilian requisition, and whose protest was in the form I had suggested, relying upon our treaty, has just informed me that he has seen Garcia Calderon, the so-called President, who admits that he cannot impose such a burden upon American citizens, and that he declares the intention now not to attempt to enforce it upon any neutrals.