to Mr. Blaine
Guatemala City , June 28, 1881. (Received July 20.)
Sir: My dispatches No. 179, under date of May 24, and my No. 183, under date of May 27, ultimo, treat of the relations between Guatemala and Mexico; while my No. 195 informs you of a recent note received by the former from the latter government of a very threatening character.
Mr. Montufar, the minister of foreign relations, showed me the whole correspondence to-day, and having an opportunity to catch the steamer carrying my mail sent by the dispatch bearer, I hasten to advise you of the posture of affairs. The present difficulty relates to the same class of troubles detailed to you in my Nos. 179 and 183, viz: the question of limits and raids over the border. It seems that in December last, a band of Mexicans appeared upon ground which has always been under the jurisdiction of Guatemala; ground occupied by Carrera, the former President of Guatemala, when Barrios and Grenados began their revolution against his government and upon which, one or more battles were fought. His band carried off four Guatemaltecos as prisoners, among them an alcalde of the government. The Jefe Politico of San Marcos, [Page 110] with 100 men, went to a place called Tonintaná for the purpose of a reconnaisance, but nothing further happening they went back to San Marcos. Tonintaná is not in Soconusco, but considerably this side of it, and was not even claimed by Santa Anna when he took the latter from Guatemala. No claim to this portion of territory has ever been made by Mexico heretofore.
This occurrence has become the basis of a fresh correspondence upon the old subject, between the Mexican minister at this capital and the Guatemala Government; the former claiming that Mexican territory had been invaded by Guatemala troops; and at a later period demanding satisfaction through instruction of his government. Guatemala then addressed Mexico directly, endeavoring to show that no offense had been committed; that Mexican territory had not been entered upon, &c. The Mexican Government replied that Guatemala was endeavoring to meet the questions at issue by a policy of delay; that the formation of a treaty which both governments had agreed to in amendment of the treaty of 1877 was being intentionally postponed by the Guatemala minister in Mexico, Señor Herrera; that the territory in question belonged to Mexico; that her dignity had been violated; and that satisfaction—which is understood to mean the punishment of the leaders of the force, Margarito Barrios and Manuel Rocas, a salute to the flag, &c.—was demanded; failing in which, the inauguration of hostilities is very plainly intimated by the note.
The Guatemala Government is greatly alarmed, of course, feeling its utter inability to cope with a power like Mexico. A pacific reply has been tendered and the result of events is awaited.
Guatemala claims that Mexico is pushing her line further every year, and she is confident that it is the settled purpose of Mexico to slice territory from Central America, and perhaps to absorb one or all of the States. She has proposed arbitration to Mexico, upon the boundary question a number of times, but is always met with the reply, that the dispute must be settled by themselves.
This is the Guatemala side of the story. If Mexico really have ulterior designs looking to the acquisition of territory, it seems important that the United States should be in position to consider whether or not her own interests are to be affected thereby. The Guatemala Government in determining to cede Soconusco, or her right to it, at least, to a foreign power, hopes to put a stop in that way to the aggressions of her powerful neighbor. The idea is not a bad one. I am confident that, as yet, no communication upon the subject, with the representative of any other power, has taken place. I have a belief, however, that should the United States decline any interest in these affairs a proposition will be made in some other quarter. I shall watch the matter as closely as possible. * * *
I have, &c.,