Mr. Nuñez del
Prado to Mr. Evarts.
La Paz, February 1, 1881. (Received May 10.)
Sir: This ministry has the honor to inform your excellency’s government of Bolivia’s unshaken determination to defend her rights and to repel the doctrines of absorption and conquest which are sustained by Chili.
This attitude, which is the only one that my government considers compatible with the dignity and lawful privileges of an American nation, is in accordance with the conviction which it entertains, that the vast proportions which the war on the Pacific is daily assuming affect not only the territorial integrity of the allied nations, but even their future autonomy and the permanent interests of America in a serious manner.
In order to defend this idea, Bolivia has sacrificed her bravest sons, and is anxiously waiting for every American country to protest against the acts of that nation which has originated this sanguinary conflict.
Meanwhile the allied forces, whose arms have been attended with very ill success during the course of the struggle, have just met with another reverse near Lima.
The loss of that maritime city, and the total destruction of the allied fleet, oblige the government of the undersigned once more solemnly to declare to the friendly nations of this continent that it is resolved unflinchingly to persevere in the defense of its autonomic integrity and in that of American interests.[Page 90]
The occupation of Lima, far from shaking the determination of this republic, has stimulated its patriotism, and it is now prepared to continue the struggle with Chili at any sacrifice.
This resolution is strengthened by the remembrance of an act which will be condemned by all America. The war, which was inaugurated by the forcible occupation of the maritime districts of Bolivia, is not a dispute concerning a right that is more or less doubtful among the belligerent powers; it is one for the settlement of serious and highly important questions. Chili, confiding in the strength of her navy, hoists the standard of conquest and of territorial annexation. Bolivia and Peru reject these doctrines and offer their blood and treasure in behalf of the triumph of the principle of right.
There is, then, an immense chasm between the objects aimed at by the two contending parties; and peace with Chili, which is at the present moment impossible, cannot be restored save by the absolute triumph of the one and the utter overthrow of the other.
The justice of the cause which Bolivia is defending is in itself a powerful stimulus to maintain the contest, and the cheering conviction which she entertains, viz, that in sacrificing herself in her own defense she is sacrificing herself for the great interests of America, increases her warlike enthusiasm and adds fuel to the flame of her patriotism.
My government feels persuaded that by resolutely accepting this situation it furnishes evidence of its good faith towards its ally and of its devotion to the principles which it professes.
If the final result shall be unfavorable to her, Bolivia will have the glory of having sacrificed herself in defense of her rights in preference to accepting the galling yoke of the conqueror.
Such, most excellent sir, are the declarations which my government desires to make to friendly nations, inasmuch as they are watching with increasing interest the prolonged struggle on the Pacific coast, and as for the continuance of that struggle it relies upon the favorable opinion of your excellency’s enlightened government.
This occasion affords to the undersigned, minister of foreign relations of Bolivia, the high honor of offering your excellency the assurances of the esteem and respect with which he subscribes himself, Your excellency’s obedient servant,
To his excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations of the United States of North America, Washington.