Mr. Hilliard to Mr. Evarts
Rio de Janeiro , December 6, 1880. (Received December 30.)
Sir: The session of the Parliament of Brazil is drawing towards its close.[Page 96]
The senate has been for some time almost exclusively engaged in considering the new electoral reform bill, a measure of great importance. Several articles have already been agreed to, among them one which removes the disabilities of naturalized Brazilians and non-Catholic subjects, and makes them for the first time eligible to office under the imperial government.
It is believed that the bill will be finally adopted by a small majority. This is a great step in the right direction, and when the measure becomes a law it will greatly advance the prosperity of the country.
Another subject has engaged the attention of the senate; the relations between Brazil and the Argentine Republic. A few days since Senator Silvria Martens, ex-minister of finance, addressed the senate on the subject, and referred to the threatening armament of the Argentine Republic. He said:
There is something which to me is worth more than direct election, than internal improvements, than party, more than all else; it is the existence of our country, the integrity of its territory. We have a neighbor who is now armed to the teeth. The Argentine Republic has accumulated an immense supply of war material, and the President who has just retired from power boasts in articles attributed to him that he has made his country the first military power in South America. In their arsenal they have 80,000 Remington rifles; they are just now receiving eleven Krupp batteries; they have a squadron of iron-clad torpedo boats, and in three months can arm 100,000 men, at which I do not wonder, as they receive thousands of immigrants every month to whom, in emergencies, and without making a question of religion or nationality, as with ourselves, are intrusted banners and arms for defending their new country.
At their front to-day is found a youthful President, a distinguished general flushed by the victories won in civil war, but ambitious of the military glory which can only be found in an international war in the name of the country, and not in that of a faction.
He proceeded to say that it was the purpose of the Argentine Republic to annex Paraguay and Uruguay, which would of course involve Brazil in war, as Brazil is obliged by treaties to maintain the independence of those two countries.
Mr. Saraiva, the prime minister, replied in moderate terms, admitting that Brazil had been for some time dominated by the desire, almost exclusively, to develop the material growth of the empire, and to make economies that should establish an equilibrium in the budgets without prejudice to the improvements already begun. He proceeded to say that the material of the navy would be renewed, and attention given to increasing the army. He added that he hoped peace would be maintained with the Argentine Republic, as there were no questions which could disturb the relations between the two countries, and that the armaments of the Argentine Republic could be explained by the exigencies of its internal policy and the defense of its territory. Appropriations will be made both for the navy and the army to make them more efficient. There is a good deal of interest felt in this matter.
It is rumored that the Argentine Republic has invited Brazil to intervene between Chili and Peru; upon what authority I do not know. Count Koskull, the Russian minister, spoke to me on the subject a few days since.
The financial condition of Brazil is not satisfactory, though she maintains her credit abroad, and I have great confidence in the good faith of the government. I feel a deep interest in the country and entertain the best wishes for its prosperity.
I have, &c.,