to Mr. Blaine.
Santiago, Chili, May 7, 1881. (Received June 7.)
Sir: In my No. 201, of date April 5th, regarding the war in this section, I mentioned the fact that the minister of war, Mr. Vergara, who had been with the army at Lima, had been sent for, and was then on his way to Chili. Since his arrival the government has labored to reach a conclusion touching the course to be pursued with Peru, and to that end numerous and extended discussions among the ministers and prominent citizens of the republic who had been invited to participate, have taken place. Three plans or propositions were discussed: First, that spoken of by me in my No. 201, involving the withdrawal of the army to Arica; second, the occupation of the entire Peruvian coast by the Chilian forces, and its government by Chilian authorities; and third, the strengthening of the government of Calderon and the negotiation of a peace therewith. The propriety of entering into negotiations with Piérola was not even dignified with a consideration. After much labor the government reached the conclusion that the last proposition afforded the easiest way out of their complications, and it has been determined to send to Peru, in charge of the negotiations, Mr. Godoy, who in times past represented Chili in Washington. Mr. Godoy is well qualified for the delicate post which he is called upon to fill. He occupied the position of minister to Peru for several years immediately preceding the opening of hostilities, and is thoroughly informed of that country and its people, and of the causes which brought about the present war. In conversation with me yesterday, he expressed the belief that three or four months would serve to bring the difficulties to a conclusion, and it is to be hoped that the result may prove him to be not oversanguine.
The ministry has freely counseled with me regarding the difficulties of the situation, and, in view of their previous determination to have nothing to do with Piérola, I cannot but applaud the result of their deliberation. To vacate the country now would be to turn it over to anarchy, and to attempt to occupy the entire coast would in time involve both countries in ruin. The most feasible way to peace is, in my opinion, the one resolved upon. In fact it is the only one which offers any reasonable hope of a solution of the difficulties during the present generation.
I have endeavored to impress upon the authorities here, and not without, I judge, some measure of success, the propriety of their affording the government of Calderon greater freedom of action than it has hitherto enjoyed. I have urged upon them that if it is their purpose to strengthen and dignify the new government, and place it in a position to claim recognition at home and abroad, they should give it possession of the capital freed from the embarrassments of Chilian military rule, and should enable it to raise revenue for its proper support. It will be remembered that the new government has been confined to a small village in the neighborhood of Lima, which was exempted from the operation of martial law, while the capital has been occupied by the the Chilian military authorities; and it will also be borne in mind that the custom-house at Callao, almost the only source from which revenue can be readily raised, has remained in possession of the Chilians.
This government will unquestionably insist upon the relinquishment [Page 130] by Peru of the province of Tarapacá, and unless the Peruvian authorities shall be found ready to concede this, the attempt to make peace will fail. It is probable, also, that Chili will demand the province of Moquegua, which includes the towns of Arica, Tacna, and Moquegua; but I incline to the belief that they will not insist upon this to the extent of endangering the negotiations. They will doubtless move cautiously, however, taking good care to see that they are to be sustained by the country; and as the public expectation has been raised to a most extravagant point, their way may be beset by serious difficulties.
I regard it as quite probable that the terms of the treaty may provide for the maintenance of Chilian garrisons at Callao and Arica until some minor conditions shall be complied with. And it is well perhaps for the interests of those who are concerned in the preservation of order there that the term of this occupation should not be limited to too brief a period.
I have, &c.,