No. 730.
Señor Camacho to Mr. Blaine.


Sir: At the last very agreeable interview I had the honor of holding with your excellency, I promised at your suggestion to state in writing substantially what had passed at our previous interview, so that your excellency’s government might have data upon which to base your action in the matter.

It affords me pleasure to comply with my promise, stating to your excellency that, as the result of previous interviews had with your worthy predecessor in the Department of State, I submitted to him on the 7th of February a project of convention by which Venezuela would bind herself to deliver to the Government of the United States the monthly instalments destined by her for the payment of her foreign diplomatic creditors, amounting to 13 per cent, of the 40 units of her custom-house revenues.

Venezuela would also engage to increase to 1,040,000 bolivares the sum of 960,000 to which the monthly instalments now amount to yearly.

The United States, through their legation at Caracas, would receive and distribute said sum according to the present pro rata, or such other proportion as might be agreed upon by the foreign diplomatic creditors, after the approval of the before-mentioned project.

His excellency Mr. Evarts was pleased to answer me on the 28th February last, manifesting the appreciative spirit in which the Government of the United States received and considered so gratifying a mark of the friendly confidence shown to the United States in matters which affect the relations of the American continent to the powers of the Old World. And I can assure your excellency that Mr. Evarts just hit the point of the difficulty by taking my respectful proposition into consideration in that light.

It needs not I should remind your excellency that he found no other obstacles than the expenses of the distribution and the obtaining the consent of the other creditors, and that the first can in no way prove an obstacle; and as to the second, Mr. Evarts himself opened the door when he suggested that the United States might take the initiative in communicating the proposed convention to the creditors’ governments.

In this condition of things, the press of New York published a cable announcing that “France had resolved to withdraw her representative in Venezuela, in consequence of the twenty years’ bad faith observed by that government towards its creditors.”

It were idle for me to discuss the “twenty years’ bad faith” of which the telegram speaks, whilst your excellency has at hand the communications of Mr. Baker, the representative of the United States at Caracas, who doubtless has explained the situation. For my part, I deem it sufficient to assure your excellency that the Government of Venezuela pays France her monthly quota with the same punctuality that she does to the United States and other foreign diplomatic creditors; that in the punctuality of said payments President Guzman Blanco is especially interested, and should the convention, which I had the honor of proposing to your government, be concluded, that punctuality will in all future times, and under any circumstances, be one of the advantages resulting from the convention.

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But if the reason given by the press is not worthy of credit, it is worth while noting the probable truth of the remarks accompanying the telegram in one of the New York papers, that many wars between great powers and weak nations have commenced by similar formality—the withdrawal of a diplomatic agent.

Assuredly the question cannot be regarded with indifference, since the French Government has declared it cannot accept the present pro rata of the monthly payments, and that if Venezuela does not accede to her demand that it be increased, the French Government will be forced to proceed in some other way.

Venezuela answered, on the 26th of August last, that she could only apply to the payment of foreign claims the 13 per cent, fixed by law ever since 1872, nor make any change in the proportion last established, because that is the only one which, considering alike the rights of all creditors, divides between them the proceeds of that fund without preferences of any kind, and that it was not believed that such a course could authorize the employment of force, nor the threat used by way of argument.

In the list of Venezuela’s diplomatic creditors, France appears with the sum of 3,455,155.60 bolivares, or say $691,031.12 as capital, and a monthly quota of 11,637.55 bolivares. Of these sums the last is paid punctually, as are all others of the kind; and as to the first, it needs not the intelligence and sagacious penetration of your excellency to discover at a’ simple glance, that the amount does not warrant a threat of force if we are to consider, as we should, the withdrawal of the legation of a great power as the beginning of a war against a weaker nation.

Venezuela, in proposing through my agency the convention with your excellency’s government for the distribution of the payments, had in mind that in this way would be avoided all difficulties between her government and those of her creditors, as also all occasion for those threats with which European nations are so prodigal (it is sad to say) when treating with Spanish American republics.

* * * * * * *

I take the liberty of renewing my requests that so soon as the overwhelming occupations of your excellency in the domestic affairs of your country permits, the convention which I had the honor of proposing to your excellency may be concluded, which convention—do not doubt it, your excellency—will be an efficient means of preventing the repetition of emergencies such as those which form the subject-matter of this communication which I confide to your excellency.

I avail, &c.,