No. 731.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Blaine.

No. 361.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 287, of date November 3, 1880, I inclose herewith—

A copy and translation of a note, of date 20th instant, from Mr. Saavedra, respecting the present embarrassed relations of this government with that of France, and indicating the desire of this government for the good offices of the Government of the United States.
A copy of my note of this date to Mr. Saavedra, acknowledging the receipt of his, and indicating that I would, by the earliest opportunity, and in a friendly manner, bring his note to the attention of my government.

I have received this afternoon (too late to copy and translate for the mail which carries this) an additional note from Mr. Saavedra, indicating that this government has made a new proposition to the French Government, and to that of England withal. I understand from this last note that this new proposition is, in the opinion of this government, of a character to prevent an immediate rupture with the French Government.

I bespeak for the accompanying copy of note from Mr. Saavedra an attentive examination; and if, in the light of the intelligence the Department may have at and after the time of receiving this dispatch, there should be any danger of a rupture between the Governments of France and Venezuela, I respectfully recommend that the Government of the United States at once, and energetically, exercise its good offices, to the end of preserving good relations between these two governments, which on all accounts is much to be desired.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 361.]

Mr. Saavedra to Mr. Baker.


Referring to Ms note No 779, of the 9th of October last, to the most excellent minister resident of the United States of America, the undersigned, minister of exterior relations, has the honor of communicating to him that, by information recently arrived from the legations of the Republic at Paris, the government has learned that the Cabinet of the French Republic insists on its demand that the quota of 1873 be re-established, with the pressure (apremio) of withdrawing its chargé d’affaires from Caracas, and suppressing the legation, if that is not acceded to. And already the government has good reasons (fundados motivos) to believe that the resolution has been taken which was spoken of to the minister of this republic in France.

The undersigned has no need to repeat the exposition of the case which was made on that occasion; but it appears to him necessary to add some words concerning the debt which is treated of.

There was agreed to here on the 6th of February, 1864, in anticipated and provisional recognition, the sum of two million dollars (pesos) in favor of French subjects for damages and injuries proceeding from the five years war of the Federation, as a means of calming the stringent (tirante) attitude with which the chargé d’affaires of France demanded that measure, and with the rational expectation of diminishing the burden to where it should be just, when the documents (expedientes) should be examined in Paris.

But such expectation remained frustrated. The Venezuelan plenipotentiary charged with the study of the matters in Paris was put in the alternative of charging the treasury with the two millions, or of signing definitively a convention in which the debt is reduced to a million and a half dollars (pesos), but in the conception that it should be paid in the term of five years, delivering immediately three hundred thousand dollars (pesos).

Other three hundred thousand pesos were paid afterwards here in two parts. But it could not be done.

Then the executive agreed for itself alone, without the intervention of Congress, to deliver weekly to the legation the product of the 17 per cent, of the custom-house duties of La Guayra and Puerto Cabello, with interest of 5 per cent, for the delay, and the assignation of three hundred dollars (pesos) monthly” for expenses of collection. The legislature has never approved this new regulation posteriorly, and by force of the necessity of attending to the claims of Spain, Great Britain, the United States, Holland, and Germany, a monthly quota was assigned, which all the creditors agreed to receive (se prestaron á recibir).

On the 17th of May, 1880, the pro rata was changed, solely to adjust it to equality between the parties interested, and to quiet the complaints of those who saw themselves disfavored by the provisional distribution of 1873.

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It is proper to recall that the plenipotentiary of Venezuela at Paris, in acceding to the exigency of the minister, M. Drouyn de Lhuys, protested against the moral coercion which was exercised, and bore in mind that, on account of the rebellion of the pretended confederates of the South Europe above all France, believed the occasion proper to influence the destiny of America, as it did by favoring the establishment of the empire in Mexico, whereunto, precisely in those circumstances, it dispatched the armed expedition which attained that object.

Compound interest, and the said three hundred dollars (pesos) monthly figuring in the account of France, the debt is almost in nothing amortized, and will continue a perpetual burden for Venezuela, supposing that things continue thus.

And it is to be considered that yet, to-day, it is not known who have claimed, nor the justice with which their demands may have been acceded to, nor the foundations of them. Although a convention was celebrated which constitutes for France the title of her credit, and by which same she should deliver the documents, bills, and public debt, shares of the bank of Venezuela, and other values, for whose extinction that international obligation was contracted, and which belong to the treasury of Venezuela to redeem (?) (inutilizar) and preserve as proofs of the respective expenditures, unheard of as it appears, it is certain that the strenuous (encarecidos) and constant efforts of the executive to obtain from the French Government all those papers, have been till now completely useless.

There is no exaggeration in affirming that the major part of such claims are illegitimate, of the nature of that of Jecker and others of those which served as pretexts for said intervention in Mexico, and which now have been discarded as a step previous to the re-establishment of friendship with France, which was effected at the end of 1880.

The Government of Venezuela, with the object of preventing difficulties, addressed to that of the United States, in October of last year, the proposition that it lend itself to receive and deliver to the diplomatic creditors of this country the sums of money which the treasury delivers monthly to the legations.

Now, in view of the actual situation, it abounds in confidence that the Cabinet of Washington, natural ally of the other republics of America, and which has done so much for them from the epoch of the Spanish-American war of independence, will, on this occasion, exercise its good offices in favor of Venezuela, impeding the misunderstanding from taking greater proportions.

To this intent instructions are given to the chargé d’affaires, Señor Camacho, and it is hoped that Mr. Baker will communicate the contents of this note, with his favorable personal appreciations, to the most excellent Secretary of State of the United States.

The undersigned remains, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 361.]

Mr. Baker to Mr. Saavedra.

The undersigned, minister resident of the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of his excellency the minister of exterior relations, of date 20th instant, respecting the existing relation between the Government of Venezuela and that of France, and to assure his excellency that he will, by the earliest opportunity, and in a friendly manner, bring said note to the attention of his government.

The undersigned renews, &c.,