No. 735.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Blaine.

No. 378.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 370 and 371, respecting the embarrassed relations of Venezuela with France, I inclose herewith:

A copy and translation of a note from Mr. Seijas, of date 6th instant. This note was accompanied by a copy of the ultimatum presented by the chargé d’affaires of the French Republic to this government, as also by a copy of the answer thereto, and by a copy of a memorandum annexed to the same.
These last two documents are so voluminous that I have so far found it quite impracticable to transmit copies and translations of them. This, however, can work no practical inconvenience, since Mr. Seijas informs me that he has sent copies of these documents to Mr. Camacho, who will, I presume, bring their contents to the knowledge of the Department; and besides it is sufficient for practical purposes to know that the result of these documents is a refusal to acceed to the French ultimatum.
A copy and translation of the copy of the French ultimatum of date 30th ultimo, sent me by Mr. Seijas.
A copy and translation of a note from Mr. Seijas, of date 6th instant, indicating, among other things, the proposal of this government to deliver to the creditor governments in a certain manner, and on a certain condition, “the entire product, whatever it may be, of the thirteen per cent, of the forty unities of the rent, applied by the law of the 30th of November, 1872, to the foreign claims previously recognized.”
A copy of the note, which I have to day sent to Mr. Seijas in response to his two preceding notes.

My view of the matter in hand is, in substance:

  • First. This country, as a country, is poor, suffering as it is not only from the entailed consequences of past revolutions and disorders, but now still suffering in addition, as I understand the situation, that condition of things which we express by the significant phrase, “hard times,” largely dependent upon the depressed prices of its principal staple, coffee.
  • Second. In the existing condition of this country, the creditor governments ought not to exact more on account of the claims to which 13 per cent, of 40 unities of its custom-house revenue is dedicated than the full product of this fund; and I think this should be paid irrespective of whether our government consents or does not consent to receive and distribute the payments; and the money thus paid by the Venezuelan Government should, as a matter of course, be divided pro-rata among the creditor governments.
  • Third. It appears to me that the French ultimatum is not wholly admissible. * * *
  • Fourth. My opinion is that justice and principle, our actual interest in the matter, and legitimate and sensible policy, all plainly unite in prompting our government to immediately act the part of a good, honest friend to Venezuela in her present trouble.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 378.—Translation.]

Mr. Seijas to Mr. Baker.

As the United States of North America are creditors of Venezuela for claims admitted in diplomatic convention, the president of the republic has esteemed it proper that the most excellent minister resident of the United States of North America should receive knowledge, for the uses which he may believe adequate to American interests, of the ultimatum which the chargé d’affaires of the French Republic, a creditor also in equal respect, has presented to the government, and of the answer which this ministry has given him (as also of the memorandum annexed to the same) in the matter of the monthly quota of the 13 per cent, applied to the diplomatic debt.

In consequence of the refusal of the government, Mr. de Tallenay has requested and received to-day his passport, confiding the officious protection of the interests of the French colony to the chargé d’affairs of Italy.

In communicating this to the most excellent Mr. Baker, the undersigned renews to him, &c.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 378.—Translation.]

Mr. Tallenay to Mr. Seijas.

The chargé d’affaires of the French Republic has the honor of bringing to the knowledge of his excellency the minister of exterior relations ad interim, that he is charged with declaring that the Government of the French Republic finds itself with regret, for the motives anteriorly exposed, in the impossibility of accepting the combinations proposed by the Venezuelan Government for the payment of the recognized French credits in negotiable bonds (titres).

Wholly reserving in an express manner the rights resulting from the convention of 1864 and from the arrangements of 1867–’68, the Government of the French Republic insists on obtaining:

The resumption, until the extinction of the credits recognized in 1864, 1867, and 1868, of the monthly payment of 1873, of which the sum amounts to 5,655 dollars (piastres).
The continuation of the labors of the commission instituted in 1879 for the regulation of the pending claims.

It offers, besides, as proof of its desires of conciliation, to apply to the acquitment of these last the bonds (titres) proposed by the Venezuelan administration, under the condition that the payment (service) of them would be guaranteed by a corresponding quota of the product of the custom-houses, of which the figure would be ulteriorly determined by common accord.

The chargé d’affaires of the French Republic conforms himself, moreover, to instructions of his government in praying the Venezuelan Government to be pleased to let him know its definitive intentions before the 6th of April next, and he profits of this occasion to renew to his excellency Mr. R. Seijas the assurances of his distinguished consideration.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 378.—Translation.]

Mr. Seijas to Mr. Baker.

The undersigned, minister of exterior relations ad interim, has the honor of addressing himself to the most excellent minister reside at, informing him that the announcements [Page 1211] made to the government by its legation at Paris have been fulfilled respecting the purposes of the French to peremptorily exact of Venezuela the continuation of the quota assigned to her diplomatic credits in 1873.

A copy of the ultimatum and of the response which the government has given it accompanies, manifesting the impossibility of acceding to the two points which it embraces.

In consequence of the denial, Señor de Tallenay retires, embarking on board of the steamer of the French marine which is at La Guayra, and it is possible the matter may be placed in the hands of the commanders of some vessels of war.

It is urgent in itself that the Government of the United States interpose immediately its good offices with the Government of the French Republic to the end of conducting the matter to an amicable arrangement.

To this purpose the government proposes to deliver to the creditor governments, in place of the 80,000 bolivars which are now expended in the payment of the monthly quotas, the entire product, whatever it may be, of the 13 per cent, of the forty unities of the rent, applied by the law of the 30th of November, 1872, to the foreign claims previously recognized. But as the excess which may be each year above the probable estimate of the fund cannot be known but at the end of that period, it will be then when it will be paid. All this is always understood, that the Cabinet of Washington will lend on the occasion its good offices to Venezuela, and that it may be it solely which intervenes in the reception of the fund.

As Mr. Baker has examined and knows the situation of the republic, he will have convinced himself that it is not possible for it, without prejudice to its other important obligations, to destine a greater sum to the object; and that, doing what it does, it gives proofs of refined good faith and high honesty.

The government hopes, then, that Mr. Baker will earnestly favor the solicitude for the good offices of the Cabinet of Washington, which it has already presented through the legation of this country, and to which the most excellent Secretary of State of the new administration shows himself favorable, according to what was said to Señor Camacho in two conferences they had had before the 18th of March, and of which he has given an account by the last steamer, Augustus.

The undersigned renews, &c.,


The aforesaid is understood without prejudice of the propositions which the government has made for the payment in bonds (titulos) of the 3 per cent., or in debt consolidated of the 5 per cent., which is that which suits Venezuela and supposing they may not be accepted.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 378.]

Mr. Baker to Mr. Seijas.

Mr. Minister: I received late in the evening of the 6th instant your excellency’s two notes of that date (and accompanying inclosures of one of them), in further notice of the existing relations between the Government of Venezuela and that of France. I at once proceeded, in a proper and friendly manner, to communicate to my government respecting the matter, by the mail which left Caracas on the morning of the.7th instant; and I shall, by the next going mail, and in like manner, communicate further to my government in the same premises.

I avail myself, &c.,