No. 76.
Mr. Logan to Mr. Blaine.

No. 179.]

Sir: In previous dispatches I have had occasion to mention the unsatisfactory relations between Guatemala and Mexico, arising from their unsettled boundary line. I have now to report that these relations are growing still less satisfactory, and that an open rupture between the two countries is not an improbable result of the near future.

The State of Chiapas, in Mexico, as well as Guatemala, belonged to the old captain-generalcy up to the period of the termination of the latter, when the people of the former State elected to attach themselves to Mexico under the short reign of Iturbide, whom the Guatemaltecos now charge with having forced the State from them. A certain portion of Soconusco, a province of Chiapas, has become the modern bone of contention between the two countries, not so much because of the value of the territory, perhaps, as because of an important river, with a fair harbor on the Pacific, which traverses it. Two or three expensive commissions have been appointed to survey and report upon a line to divide the two countries, whose work, up to this time, has not amounted to anything. In the mean time local disturbances, consisting of raids over the border, have occurred at intervals until the feeling has become quite embittered.

* * * * * * *

In confirmation of the disposition of Mexico to make a rupture with Guatemala is the fact I learned from a reliable person last evening, that Mexico had lately sent 1,000 well-armed men into Soconusco, and that 2,000 more are expected soon to arrive there.

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I give you these statements for what they are worth. I believe that Mexico has every disposition to come to an open rupture with Guatemala on the boundary question, and that she may do so. Barrios is intensely hated in Mexico, and he returns the feeling with compound interest. Though Barrios does not realize it, yet his government, in one sense, is a very weak one. * * * His old opponents * * * are held down with an iron hand, made up, so to speak, of muskets and brass bands. By themselves they can do nothing, but if Mexico, with a few thousand men, were to call away the Guatemala troops from the capital to defend the border, twenty-four hours would not elapse before the clericals would be massed into an aggressive army, and, being in the majority, Barrios would soon be crushed.

* * * * * * *

The conquest of Central America, however, would be a different thing. Were Mexico prosperous, and with ability to maintain an army and prosecute a war, Montufar’s idea would not be an improbable one, nor would the mere conquest be a thing of very difficult accomplishment; but the Mexicans must certainly know that no republican form of government could hold together territory so separated by physical barriers as that comprising the countries herein spoken of. Nothing but the strong arm of an absolute monarchy, supported by ample resources of money, ships, and men, could tie them into a single government. When railroads and telegraphs are built so that quick communication can be had from Mexico to Costa Rica such a project may be entertained. At present it is impracticable, and operating upon a smaller scale; the difficulty mentioned constitutes the chief obstacle against a federal union of the Central American States, as heretofore stated to the Department in my dispatches; but a single agency—the protectorate of a powerful country—can make such a union possible in Central America.

The situation, however, is sufficiently interesting to call for this report to you. I shall promptly inform you of any additional matter of interest.

I have, &c.,